Schools all over the UK are to be given practical help with cutting pupil absenteeism caused by illness, following the launch of a major new educational initiative by Kimberly-Clark Professional.
The Healthy Schools Project is a child-friendly programme created to help teachers reinforce positive messages about the benefits of good hand hygiene among pupils. Based around the fun theme of ‘Hand Wash Heroes’, the initiative has been carefully designed to engage children aged 3 to 7 years directly to encourage them to take greater responsibility for, and care over, washing their hands to prevent the spread of common illnesses such as coughs, colds and stomach upsets.
Every day, thousands of children are off school sick because of the kinds of minor illnesses that are spread by poor hand hygiene. In the 2012 spring term alone, a total of six million pupil days were lost to illness in state primary schools, according to Department for Education figures. Absenteeism deprives children of valuable learning time and impacts on parents who often have to take time off work to care for their kids when they’re unwell. Illness among pupils often affects teachers, too, causing disruption to whole classes and saddling schools with unwelcome supply teacher-related costs.
Kimberly-Clark Professional will be equipping schools with all the tools they need to fight back against germs that cause illness, and consequently improve attendance rates and enhance pupil performance. Under The Healthy Schools Project the company has created the ‘Hand Wash Heroes’, a collection of attention-grabbing characters who will help drive home, via a range of learning media, the importance of good hand hygiene to school kids.
Dr Louise Vickerman, education manager at Kimberly-Clark Professional, said: “Young school children will love our Hand Wash Heroes programme because it is designed to make them feel that they are making the decision to improve their hand hygiene behaviour independently. Kids love to feel empowered and once they have learned good hand hygiene, it will stay with them for their whole lives, helping to keep them healthier at school and beyond. In addition, children who are healthy are happy, and children who are happy at school are far more likely to perform well academically. There are so many benefits to good hand hygiene and it really does make sense to introduce it to kids when they are young and receptive. That really is the essence of what The Healthy Schools Project is all about.”
Available to all schools taking part in The Healthy Schools Project will be lesson plans that enable teachers to integrate lessons about hand hygiene seamlessly into the curriculum. The lesson plans have been designed to encourage pupils to take ownership of their own personal and classroom hygiene, and incorporate a rewards programme that acknowledges good hand hygiene-related behaviour and incentivises pupils to maintain it on an on-going basis.