Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) and Physical Education (PE) at primary level, and these subjects together with Home Economics at second level, cover the areas of healthy eating and the food pyramid, healthy lifestyle, physical health, body care, exercise, relaxation and diet. They are evaluated in schools by the Inspectorate using indicators specific to primary and to second-level schools as appropriate.
Addressing the obesity issue requires a multi-faceted approach that involves the development of knowledge, skills and attitudes that influence behaviour on food selection and consumption and also engagement in appropriate levels of physical activity.
Schools have worked on devising healthy lunch policies as part of Social, Personal and Health Education and Physical Education. The curriculum support services at primary and post-primary level have a number of activities in place to promote healthy living in schools and healthy eating policies. Planning templates to assist in school planning for the implementation of the PE curriculum and the wider aspects of physical activity and school sport are also available.
The majority of schools currently participating in the School Completion Programme operate breakfast clubs or other meal provision, in accordance with the Nutritional Guidelines issued by the Department of Social Protection.
In addition, the Food Dudes programme is being rolled out on a national basis to all primary schools over a 5 year period. Developed by the Food Research Unit, School of Psychology, Bangor University, Wales, the programme is designed to increase children’s consumption of fruit and vegetables and is based on positive role models, repeated tastings and rewards. Studies conducted with a 12 month follow-up have proven that Food Dudes increases children’s consumption of fruit and vegetables in the long-term. The programme is being introduced to all primary schools on a phased basis.
The Irish programme is being organised by Bord Bia and is funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; the EU School Fruit Scheme and is supported by this Department. All fruit and vegetables, materials and rewards are supplied and delivered to schools participating in the programme free of charge.
Active School Flag is a non-competitive initiative which seeks to recognise schools (primary and post-primary) that strive to achieve a physically active and physically educated school community.