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National Curriculum

Healthy lifestyles

Young people with healthy lifestyles have a good balance of work and play, a healthy diet and an appropriate amount of physical activity and rest. A healthy lifestyle is about both physical and mental wellbeing. Download the healthy lifestyles overview.

Education for health is concerned with the social and emotional aspects of learning, and relates to issues that are real and relevant to many young people, including sex and relationships, body image, drug, alcohol and tobacco use.

Education for health should seek to encourage young people to eat sensibly, stay physically active and maintain good levels of personal wellbeing. Young people should be able to look after themselves, and stay safe from violence, exploitation and injury.

Good health and effective learning go hand-in-hand. Schools educating young people on, for example, the benefits of healthy eating and regular exercise can bring about both immediate and long-term improvement to their quality of life.

In order to live healthy and fulfilling lives, young people need to understand the consequences of the choices they make. They need opportunities to develop self-respect and build the confidence to make responsible, informed and healthy choices about their lives. Schools can provide the knowledge, skills and understanding that pupils need to lead healthy lives, not just through what is taught, but also through the school’s routines, organisation and environment.

Developing a curriculum that supports healthy lifestyles

In order to help learners understand the characteristics of a healthy lifestyle and make informed decisions about living healthily, they should have opportunities across the curriculum to:

  • meet, talk and work with a range of people, including professionals from the health and emergency services

  • develop positive relationships with a wide range of people

  • consider social and moral dilemmas, including the varied attitudes and values underpinning some of the healthy lifestyle issues they encounter in their communities

  • find information and advice, for example through helplines and websites, and learn how to provide information to others

  • prepare for change, for example by anticipating the challenges of new and widening social groups as they get older, and by considering the choices they may have to make

  • feel positive about themselves, for example by giving and receiving positive feedback, and keeping a record of their progress and achievements.

The DCSF has identified five key objectives to help schools create a healthier environment for pupils.

  • To promote a school ethos and environment that encourages a healthy lifestyle.

  • To use the full capacity and flexibility of the curriculum to achieve a healthy lifestyle.

  • To ensure that the food and drink available during the school day reinforces the healthy lifestyle message.

  • To provide high-quality physical education and school sport, and promote physical activity as part of a lifelong healthy lifestyle.

  • To promote an understanding of the full range of issues and behaviours that impact upon lifelong health.

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