Big-hearted local businesses in the Highlands, who are approached to help fund the production of health-related leaflets and booklets for primary schools, are being urged to sponsor only material that has the endorsement of The Highland Council and NHS Highland.
The advice from the agencies follows concerns from some head teachers that leaflets, sponsored by local companies and sent to schools by commercial entities, have contained materials that are outdated, misleading, inaccurate and inappropriate for the target age group.
Louise Thomas, Health Promoting Schools Manager for the Highlands, reports that schools have no choice but to withdraw the materials from circulation.
She said: “Head teachers really appreciate the goodwill and generosity of local businesses and welcome any support they can offer. They also encourage a wider community approach to health. However, it is important that the materials are appropriate for the target audience and are approved and endorsed by the key agencies.
“There is very clear national and local guidance in place to ensure that materials are endorsed by local authorities and do not put children or young people in danger of being exposed to inaccurate and potentially dangerous information. We cannot prevent businesses or schools being contacted directly by email, telephone or in writing. However, we can raise awareness of the services we offer freely across Highland and hope that this will prevent companies making a profit by targeting our generous and well meaning local businesses.”
Hugh Fraser, Direction of Education, Culture and Sport Service, The Highland Council, endorsed the message. He said: “All curricular work in schools should be restricted to organisations approved by the Education Authority in liaison with its partners in health education and promotion. In Highland we have a very successful track record of school communities working together to become Health Promoting and we will ensure that we build on this by making sure health information is of a very high standard.”
Garry Coutts, Chairman, NHS Highland, said: “To really make a difference in improving health in our communities, we have been able to build up an impressive range of leaflets and resources that give the right information to all staff and young people. We also make sure they are available in a range of formats accessible to all.”
The Health Information and Resources Service has a library which offers a wide range of health-related materials for loan, free of charge to those living and working in the Highlands. The materials consist of posters, leaflets videos, training packs, games and equipment.
Scottish Consumer Council with the support of the Scottish Executive, COSLA and the CBI has published guidelines aimed to prevent children being exposed to inappropriate commercial activities in schools. These can be found on
For more information please do not hesitate to contact the HIRS Team on 01463 704647, or via the website www.healthyhighlanders.org.uk or Louise Thomas Health Promoting Schools Manager on 01463 704959.