Results from PHE Canada’s Healthy School Communities of Practice Survey

Friday, June 3, 2016


Results from PHE Canada’s Healthy School Communities of Practice Survey 


PHE Canada, with funding support from the Lawson Foundation, has been working with schools across Canada for the last 5 years to help school health teams build healthier school communities. PHE Canada’s Healthy School Communities (HSC) Initiative is aimed at supporting school community efforts to ensure all children and youth in Canada live healthy, physically active lives. Through positive change in practices within the school community, children and youth will be nurtured to achieve their best – both in terms of academic progress and in their physical, emotional and social development.

Between November 2014 and May 2015, PHE Canada identified five Communities of Practice (COP) to implement the HSC approach. The COPs are: Anglophone West School District, NB; Near North District School Board, ON; Okanagan Skaha School District, BC; Saskatoon Public Schools, SK; and York Region District School Board, ON.

The COP Healthy School Teams participated in a two-day planning process to learn how to embrace the Comprehensive School Health Framework and form a plan to become a healthier school community. To gauge the school teams’ progress toward achieving the goals outlined in their Healthy School Action Plans, PHE Canada conducted a follow up survey in February 2016.

The key results of the survey are:

  • A School Health Team that is made up of members from within the school and larger community have better outcomes. Members should include principals, teachers, parent volunteers, public health and local community groups.
  • 50% of respondents said that their schools were progressing as planned, and a further 12% said that they were well under way and building upon their goals.
  • A priority for many school health teams was ensuring students felt connected to their school and school personnel.
  •  For many of the schools, improved nutrition and increased physical activity among students were the focus of Healthy School Action Plans, but psychosocial improvements have also been observed as a consequence of involvement in school health initiatives.
  • 58% of respondents cited a lack of resources (time, human, materials and finances) as a major factor impeding the implementation of their Healthy School Action Plan.
  • 81% of respondents believe that building capacity in the school and community is an important strategy for success, long-term sustainability and change.
  • In addition to building capacity, 58% of respondents view connecting with other Healthy School Teams as essential for attaining health goals.

When asked to reflect on positive outcomes after implementing their action plans, one COP replied that “the amount of students this year participating in physical activity has increased by 15%. We had 92% participation of our last school wide in-motion activity.”

Another COP stated that “A great outcome that we would like to share is that our First Nations families now see themselves on the landscape. They are engaging on many levels. This we believe is due to our focus on becoming more culturally responsive and focusing on the gifts rather than the barriers of our learners.”

The four COP’s continue to engage their school community and implement activities outlined in their action plans. PHE Canada will continue to monitor the efforts of these four COP’s as well as the five new COP’s established in 2016.

PHE Canada advocates for and advances quality physical education and quality health education programs offered in Health Promoting Schools to enable students the opportunity to develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed to lead physically active and healthy lives, now and in their future. Learn more at

For more information about PHE Canada's HSC initiative, please contact Sharon Jollimore, Program Manager or visit