Health For Life

Children next to some lovely vegetables. Representing Health For Life Programme

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The Health for Life programme promotes an ethos and environment which encourages a proactive approach to developing a healthy lifestyle.

We focus on growing food, healthy eating and cooking, physical activity and try to involve families as much as possible in the process.

Education Advisers will work with you to use the curriculum to embed an understanding of how to achieve a healthy lifestyle.

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To see what type of work schools do and the impact of the programme, please watch the short video above. To see videos from previous years please click here.



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The Health For Life Programme:

  • Won the national award from FDF in Health and Well-being
  • Featured at the International Symposium on Healthy Lifestyles, Granada 2013 & Chicago 2016
  • Won the Regional Big Tick for Developing Sustainable Communities (twice)
  • Was shortlisted as a finalist in two national Health and Wellbeing awards.

By working with lots of schools we are able to share good practice and give you lots of ideas and support. Find out which schools have taken part so far, here.



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We are very excited to be celebrating 10 years of the Health for Life programme next year. It has been an incredible time, with 189 schools involved, all being able to show a real long term impact of the activities they undertook whilst on the programme. To mark this milestone we are delighted to announce as a celebration of the 10 year anniversary and as a ‘thankyou’ to schools for taking part in the programme, the opportunity to bid for an additional cash grant to fund a project to develop one area of the Health for Life programme further.  This must be related to one of the three programme strands (food growing; healthy eating/cookery; physical activity) and will be an initiative which makes a significant and sustainable impact in promoting healthier lifestyles for pupils, building upon the school’s initial involvement.

This is an amazing opportunity to move forward from your original success and achievements as Mondelez International will award grants of £5000 to three schools which can demonstrate:

  • How the grant would be used to progress the school from the work originally undertaken
  • How the school will measure the impact of the funded project
  • How to school will utilise the whole school community
  • How the project will make a sustainable impact or create a long-term resource

The opportunity to bid for an award is open to all Health for Life primary schools – cohorts 1-9 inclusive. Schools should submit their application by March 31st 2022.

To apply schools are required to complete a two-part submission to bid for a cash grant for their project, following the guide and form downloadable below. 

Entries will be judged by a panel from Mondelez and Services For Education, and successful applicants will be notified in May 2022 with the grants being awarded in September 2022. The project should be completed by May 2023.

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Picture of some children holding up vegetables they've grown as part of Health For LifeThe objective is to engage pupils in growing food to increase their knowledge and understanding of its links with a healthy lifestyle.
Example Activities:
  • Create or extend a school garden for growing fruit and/or vegetables. Can also look at sustainability such as saving seeds; rotating  crops; harvesting rainwater; using school-produced compost, wormeries
  • Use allotments for growing fruit and/or vegetables
  • Fruit and vegetable growing in containers such as hanging baskets, troughs, ‘funny’ containers
  • Planting fruit trees
  • Build raised beds
  • Build greenhouse

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Two children and a teacher taking part in a Health For Life practical, chopping up foodThe objective is to make a measurable improvement in the diet of school children through cooking and healthy eating activities.
Example Activities
  • Development of a recipe book for use in schools and at home
  • Making healthy soups, drinks, picnics snack foods
  • Cooking competitions between schools (with focus on healthy eating)
  • Practical cooking lessons (with focus on healthy eating) with pupils
  • Practical lessons on cooking through the ages (with focus on healthy eating)

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Kids playing outside on a climbing frame with ropes.The objective is to make a measurable increase in the amount of regular physical activity of pupils in order to promote a healthy lifestyle.
Example Activities:
  • Active play in school grounds
  • Play leader training (and implementation) for pupils
  • Cycle training – Bikeability, Bike it
  • Walk to school/scooter to school
  • Build bike/scooter racks

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Picture of a mum and child filling out Health For Life booklets.The objective is to actively involve parents and families in promoting and adopting healthy, active lifestyles.
Example Activities
  • Inspire workshops e.g. build-a-kite workshop
  • Use of parent partnership workers
  • Sharing of information through letters/emails/school website
  • Train as walk leaders
  • Family bike rides/family picnics
  • Sending recipe home to cook as part of homework
  • Sending seedlings home to grow at home

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Picture of two health for life delegates cutting up food for a Health For Life practicalDuring the Autumn and Spring term there are four courses to be attended by an appropriate member of staff from each school.
Courses are on:
  • Growing food
  • Physical activity
  • Healthy eating/cooking skills
  • Food safety qualification

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Picture of some children smiling with their thumbs up at a health for life eventOn average only 12 schools are selected each year to take part in the Health for Life in Primary schools programme in order to ensure that each school has a sufficient level of support.

Therefore what we require from each school joining the programme is a level of commitment because if a school drops-out halfway through the programme their place can’t be offered to another school.

Selected schools will take part in the programme for a period of four terms.  During this time they will receive support to plan and implement the programme to suit their particular circumstances.

Services For Education recruits schools in the summer term in order to start the programme the following September. Information is sent out by email, post and ebriefing to eligible schools.

Autumn Term

With the help of a Services For Education Adviser you will

  • Ascertain starting points and record
  • Get children involved to review current practice
  • Complete on-line baseline surveys with pupils
  • Complete a baseline audit of school practice
  • Identify barriers and factors that hinder progress
  • Develop ideas that will promote change
  • Nominate a member of staff to attend the two funded training days
  • Prepare an Action Plan that will structure and keep track of resources required, jobs and dates for completion, success criteria
  • By the start of December submit your action plan to steering group for approval – this will trigger the first part of the grant (£3,500 to be paid in two stages)

Spring Term 

With the help of your Services For Education Adviser you will

  • Start to implement your Action Plan
  • Nominate a member of staff to attend two funded training days
  • Engage the whole school community in progress and change
  • Address all strands in a way to encourage engagement
  • Collect evidence of impact (ongoing)

Summer term

With the help of your Services For Education Adviser you will

  • Continue with implementing your Action Plan
  • Attend the celebration event in June to help share good ideas (compulsory)
  • Take part in BBC Gardeners’ world wheelbarrow event (optional)
  • Continue to engage the whole school community in progress and change
  • Continue to address all strands in a way to encourage engagement
  • Collect evidence of impact (ongoing)

Autumn term

With the help of your Services For Education Adviser you will

  • Continue with implementing your Action Plan
  • Continue to engage the whole school community in progress and change
  • Continue to address all strands in a way to encourage engagement
  • Take part in the ‘Cookathon’ (optional)
  • Collect evidence of impact (ongoing)
  • Repeat the on-line surveys with pupils
  • Repeat the school audit
  • Collate evidence of impact

Spring term

  • Continue with sustainable activities in your Action Plan
  • Attend Awards ceremony

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Group of children meeting the mayor at a Health For Life eventA Celebration Event is held half way through implementation phase – so in June – and is a way to share good ideas; motivate you all to continue and showcase the programme to VIPs – the Lord Mayor, MPs, people from Local Authority, Public Health and the next cohort of schools.
At the end of the implementation phase there is an Awards Ceremony in the Banqueting Suite to celebrate and recognise the work that you have all done.
We invite 2 members of staff and up to 4 children to each event to showcase what they’ve done that they are proud of.

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Little girl holding up a large teapot with plants growing in it. The Health For Life competitions at BBC Gardeners’ World Live are an exceptionally popular annual feature at the show.

School Children can show off their creative flair, working as a team, with the satisfaction of seeing their final creations on display at the show, enjoyed by tens of thousands of visitors.

This competition is a simple, hands-on and fun gardening activity that can be enjoyed by pupils of all levels. The children will need to nurture and care for their plants, so that they grow and thrive in their container.

  • The School Wheelbarrow Competition. School groups are encouraged to look at flora and fauna, garden styles, national heritage, architecture, cuisine and cultures from around the world, ultimately picking one country to be the inspiration behind the design and planting of their wheelbarrow.
    Download our factsheet here.

Apply for the School Wheelbarrow Competition Here.

  • Useful Planters Competition – Early Year Foundation Stage. The Useful Planters Competition is a gardening competition for Early Years nurseries, pre-school settings and reception classes. This competition is a simple and fun gardening activity devised to complement the EYFS Statutory Framework. As well as the planting activity, the children will need to nurture and care for their plants for them to grow and thrive in their containers.
    Download the factsheet here.

Apply for the Useful Planters Competition Here.

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What is the Health for Life Cookathon?

The Health for Life Cookathon is a chance to celebrate winter cooking by making some delicious soup and sharing it out with others.

You may wish to share your soup with the rest of your school or group, or hold a big event and share the soup with family, friends and other members of your local community.

After your event, we would love you to share your pictures and stories with us so we can see what you got up to.

Please tweet your photos and use #hflcookathon so we can see what you’re doing and tag us in @SFE_SS 

On this page you’ll find lots of resources and activities to help you make Cookathon extra special.

Who can take part?

Any schools can take part.

Why should you take part?

We are very proud to have such an amazing community of schools across Birmingham as part of the Health for Life programme. We see the Cookathon as a chance to celebrate all your good work and do something together.

You can also use the Cookathon to: 

  • Create or strengthen links with parents and families (if you invite them in to share the soup)
  • Promote your school to the rest of your school, group or community
  • Use our resources to help plan for your event and help you with what to do afterwards
  • Promote healthy eating to others


Our Cookathon – 2020

The 2020 Cookathon took place on Tuesday 11th February 2020. You can use our video and printable resources.


Download Glynn Purnell’s Winter Vegetable Soup recipe here.




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There is a step-by-step film on our website of Glynn Purnell cooking the soup. So if you watch the film it will show you how easy it is to make soup.

You can also download the recipe, equipment and ingredient list which you can then use or adapt, if you wish, to suit your school.

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Schools vary enormously in the facilities they have – some schools have a classroom just for cooking, other schools will have portable cooking equipment that goes from class to class. It is up to you where it is best to do the cooking – we don’t mind so long as it is safe for the pupils and also that they have fun doing it.

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It would be great for as many children as possible to be involved. You could have several classes either cooking at the same time or over the school day – it’s entirely up to.

Or you could have some children cooking the soup whilst other children make some bread to eat with the soup.

And if you are inviting in parents or other people you could have some children write the invitations, act as waiters/waitresses serving the soup.

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When cooking in schools you do need to do a risk assessment ahead of the event. As part of the risk assessment you would need to check on food allergies of any guests that you might invite in for the soup sharing.


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Our Cookathon – 2018

On 23rd October, our Health For Life schools took part in a cookathon to promote healthy living. The cooking is demonstrated by award winning chef Marcus Bean. You can watch the video and download the recipes, below.


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Download our Root Vegetable Recipe here.

And the Homemade Bread Recipe here.

For more information contact us here or call us on 0121 366 9950.

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Accreditations and Partnerships:

The programme supports Change4Life and offers a range of opportunities to encourage families towards leading healthier lifestyles and works in partnership with Life Education Centres, Birmingham Adult Education Service, Sport Birmingham, Run Birmingham, Let’s Get Cooking, Grow to Learn, the Conservation Volunteers and more

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The programme is funded by Mondelēz International. Health for Life is delivered in Primary and Nursery schools by Services for Education and the community programme is delivered by The Conservation Trust.


“In less than 12 months of running the Health for Life programme, we’ve exceeded everything we hoped to achieve. It’s brought a whole community spirit back into school.”
– Teacher, Lakey Lane Primary

“In light of the statistics, it’s so important that children are educated on the importance of being active and eating healthily now more than ever. The Health for Life programme effectively engages young people in a fun and educational way.”
– Dr Adrian Phillips, Director of Public Health, Birmingham

“You feel really proud that you’ve helped to grow the foods that you’re eating.”  – Y5 pupil

“Health for Life has a really beneficial impact on the life of the school. This learning will stay with our children for the rest of their lives and hopefully they will build on what they’ve started here and it will be something that really will be health for life.”
– Teacher, Sladefield Infants School

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The main documents that you will need through the course of the Health for Life programme can be downloaded by clicking on the links below.

Primary Schools:

Nursery Schools:



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