A Government programme promoting health in schools has seen reading levels improve almost 30 per cent and attendance jump 60 per cent.

An independent report has analysed the Ministry of Health's Health Promoting Schools programme and found it has had a positive impact on students in schools where it has been implemented.

The report found that, compared with schools not signed up to the programme, average student reading performance was 29 per cent higher. There was also a 42 per cent drop in student stand-downs and a 60 per cent increase in attendance rates.

The programme encouraged schools to identify the health and wellbeing needs of their students and develop ways of meeting those needs.


Schools identified health issues such as healthy eating, dental hygiene and family engagement.

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman said the programme was developed by the World Health Organisation and was one part of the Government's Childhood Obesity Plan.

"The service, through the Ministry of Health, works with school leaders to identify health and wellbeing priorities for their students, and to create and implement an action plan. It is a school community-led process."

Across the country, 67 per cent of schools (1565) had signed up.

One of those is Prospect School in Glen Eden.

The school's principal, Gay Turner, attended a workshop in 2014 and signed up to the programme.

Baseline data showed most students entering the multicultural decile 2 school were below the national standard and were generally in the bottom 4 per cent nationally.

The school focused on improving family engagement and attendance, healthy eating and dental issues.

After 20 weeks they found Pasifika students had accelerated but Maori children were not improving at the same rate.

They formed shorter and easier learning blocks, a mentoring programme and employed an engaged parent to reach hard-to-engage families.

Since then parents had begun approaching the co-ordinator to find out when the next meeting was, dropping in for extra resources or to ask questions and being more assertive with teachers by asking for books for their children.