This paper on school connectedness is from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US, but looks like it could be just as useful in a UK context. It makes the link between the ways that schools can reduce the risk factors in their pupil’s lives and enhance the protective factors and how this can and should improve their health.
Efforts to improve child and adolescent health typically have featured interventions designed to address specific health risk behaviors, such as tobacco use, alcohol and drug use, violence, gang involvement, and early sexual initiation. However, results from a growing number of studies suggest that greater health impact might be achieved by also enhancing protective factors that help children and adolescents avoid multiple behaviors that place them at risk for adverse health and educational outcomes. Enhancing protective factors also might buffer children and adolescents from the potentially harmful effects of negative situations and events, such exposure to violence.
The paper suggests there are a number of factors that can increase school connectedness which they set out as:
- Adult Support: School staff can dedicate their time, interest, attention, and emotional support to students.
- Belonging to a Positive Peer Group: A stable network of peers can improve student perceptions of school.
- Commitment to Education: Believing that school is important to their future, and perceiving that the adults in school are invested in their education, can get students engaged in their own learning and involved in school activities.
- School Environment: The physical environment and psychosocial climate can set the stage for positive student perceptions of school.
This combination of a good curriculum (based in evidence) and the development of a school environment that protects young people will be at the heart of our new Alcohol and Drug Education and Prevention Information Service.