The combination of a health curriculum and health-promotion activities enables students to build action competencies and individual health skills.
An action competence is the ability to plan, initiate, deliver and evaluate actions aimed at improving health and wellbeing in “real life”. For children at schools, this could involve actions at a classroom level or a local community level. Action competencies always address causes for health and wellbeing, rather than individual health skills alone.
Developing student’s action competencies and individual skills is a key component of the Whole School Approach for health promotion.
A health-promoting school provides a curriculum that supports students’ natural curiosity and investigative approach to learning. This type of learning allows students to build knowledge, plan actions, take responsibility and work with real-life problems. This curriculum should be included in the school’s everyday routine enabling students to develop their actions competencies and individual skills.
Support for the development of students’ action competencies depends on the school’s level of commitment. The importance of action competencies is further explained in SHE’s 2019 publication of materials for teachers - Key concepts and activities: Learning about health and health promotion in schools pg. 22 (see link below)
SHE describes Action competencies and individual health skills in their publication European Standards and Indicators for health-promoting schools pg. 13 (see link below) in two standards:
- Standard 4 ‘The school implements a health promotion curriculum to pupils’ and
- Standard 7 ‘The school improves pupils health literacy’
The following questions can give an indication of whether your school meets the standards in relation to students action competencies and individual health skills.
- Does the school provide age-appropriate health promotion modules or activities as part of the curriculum?
- Does everyday teaching strive for differentiated and inclusive collaborative teaching and learning methods, based on equity?
- Do teachers promote well-being in everyday school life throughout the whole curriculum?
- How many annual school projects and activities aim to promote the health and well-being of students?
- How many students actively participate in these health-promoting projects?
- Are students involved in the development, implementation and evaluation of health promotion activities in the school?
- Are there specific activities in the school to collect students’ opinions and give students a voice?
- Can the school measure the improvement of students’ knowledge and understanding of what health and health promotion are?
- Can students critical appraise health information and apply it to everyday life?
- Do students feel confident to take action and advocate for positive healthy habits in their family and community?
In addition, SHE’s rapid assessment tool helps you identify what your school already does well, what areas need improvement and what you want to focus on. This tool also includes questions about students' health skills.