Health Education Approaches

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Purpose of this policy

To ensure schools apply a whole-school approach to health education, with teachers playing the central role in the teaching, assessment and reporting of student learning about health.


School councils must develop health education policies to support the health messages being delivered within the classroom and with school community input: students, parents and teachers. All school staff must:

  • be conscious of issues related to the disclosure of personal information
  • give careful consideration prior to approval of collection of sensitive information
  • not promote their own personal preferences
  • select health education materials with care.

Use of guest presentations that can be value biased, for example, through use of personal stories, and the use of ex-drug users in drug education lessons, must be avoided, see: Selecting teaching and learning resources.

Note: Health education lies within the Health and Physical Education domain of the Victorian Curriculum F-10.

Drug education

Effective drug education is based on the principles of harm minimisation and is consistent with the national Principles for School Drug Education. Schools should deliver 10 hours of drug education per year level, per year.  Regional senior program officers provide assistance with planning and delivery. For drug education information and resources see: Drug Education.

Health eating education

Schools should ensure that teachers, canteen managers, parents and students work together and support a whole–school approach to building a culture in which students actively choose nutritious foods as part of a healthy lifestyle.

The Healthy Canteens section comprises the Healthy Canteen Kit including the School Canteens and Other School Food Services Policy and includes information about the ban on confectionery and high sugar drinks, recommended food categories, nutrition programs and suggested student learning activities, see: Healthy Eating - School Food Services

Mental health promotion

All health education learning and teaching programs should aim to build student resilience and peer support practices to promote a student’s ability to look after oneself, recognise and be aware of one’s needs in others, and awareness of appropriate supports in school and in the community. Promoting Healthy Minds for Living and Learning provides materials to support school staff create environments conducive to mental health, see: Mental Health to access this resource.

The Student Support Services staff and the Primary Welfare Officers work with schools and families to address barriers to learning including mental health concerns, see: Student Support Services

School nurse role in health education

The secondary school nursing program (SSNP) provides policy support and guidance to school nurses working as part of a team for the program development and delivery of health education and promotion of student health and well-being.  The key objective of the SSNP is to reduce negative health outcomes and risk taking behaviour among young people through the implementation of health promotion activities to support the health and wellbeing of young people in schools.

Secondary school nurses work effectively:

  • in a team approach with classroom teachers to deliver health education lessons
  • play an important role in the development of partnerships with key local health providers to support the development of whole school approaches to health promotion.

Note: School nurses employed by school councils should be guided by the school 's policy in supporting the school’s health promotion activities.

Important:  The principal needs to endorse an alternative teaching arrangement such as a nurse being involved in the delivery of health-related curriculum within a classroom.

School nurses also provide a range of services including:

  • the primary school nursing program providing a health and wellbeing assessment to all preps in Victoria entering their first year of school and health and wellbeing support to children in grades 1 to 6 years referred by their teacher or parents
  • providing provide advice and support to children and families
  • facilitating health promotion and health education activities in secondary schools.

Sexuality education

Comprehensive, inclusive sexuality education is a compulsory part of a school’s health education curriculum, taught and assessed by teachers. 

The promotion of sexual health is a responsibility shared between schools, the local health and welfare community, and parents. School-based sexuality education programs are more effective when they are developed in consultation with parents and the local community. Learning and teaching in sexuality education should be developmentally appropriate. 

A parent/carer may decide not to allow their child to participate in the sexual health component of the school’s health education.

Note: Schools must support and respect sexuality diversity including same sex attraction see: Supporting Diversity in Schools (pdf - 119.04kb).

Related policies

Department resources

For information on: