Improving the health of students and staff at English academies

The NIHR School for Public Health Research is exploring how local government and public health experts can work with academy school chains and free school groups to improve staff and student health.

Researchers at the University of Bristol are looking for 25-30 Chief Executive Officers of academy chains or other members of the senior management team, academy school heads and key programme managers within the Department of Education to interview as part of the project.

Although the primary purpose of schools is the education of children and young people, their education and health are inextricably linked. Healthy children perform better in the classroom and children who achieve their educational potential live longer, healthier and have happier lives.

Over the past two decades there has been a shift in the way in which the majority of publicly funded Schools in England are governed. Schools have traditionally been governed by Local Authorities (LA), but in 1997 the government enabled existing schools to become academies which were no longer subject to LA control as funding came straight from central government.

In 2017, 22% of primary schools and 62% of secondary schools were academies, of which 18% of primary schools and 36% secondary schools were part of a multi academy trust (MATs).

Despite the surge in academies and free schools, little research has been carried out to look at how public health experts and local authorities can work with academy chains and groups of free schools.

The research project will work with school academy chains and free school groups to identify how academics can work with school leaders in assessing staff and student health and wellbeing needs, and implementing programmes which benefit student’s health and educational development.

If you would like further information or are a senior leader in a MATs, SATs or a free school and would like to be involved in this project please contact Tricia Jessiman.