School ethos a relevant concept for school based health promotion research
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School ethos: A relevant concept for school-based health promotion research? . Sherri Bisset. *PhD (Cand) Public Health, Université de Montréal.

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School ethos a relevant concept for school based health promotion research l.jpg

School ethos: A relevant concept for school-based health promotion research?

Sherri Bisset

*PhD (Cand) Public Health, Université de Montréal


Slide2 l.jpg

Outline…an overview of school ethos…1) School ethos : definitions, relevance, utility 2) School ethos : evidence as an independent factor on health outcomes3) School ethos : interplay with the implementation health promotion programs4) School ethos : an example of a theory, it’s opperationalization and empirical evidence for an independent effect on student health



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School ethos: definitions & relevance

School ethos, climate, culture… is a concept which describes a collective attribute of a group or organization. It refers to the feel, atmosphere, tone, ideology, or milieu of an organisation such as a school.

The use of this concept implies that there is an underlying value system which guides individual behaviour within a group.

School climate is often described as open/closed, healthy/unhealthy.

Open school climate is one in which teacher and principal behaviour is supportive, genuine, and engaged.

A closed climate is characterized by lack of authenticity and disengaged behaviour.


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School ethos: utility

  • Limitations of “school ethos”

    • Vague, inconsistently defined and variously operationalised

    • Under theorized where the mechanisms which capture the actions are not necessarily clear (i.e. what is the process, how do we create school ethos)

  • Strengths of “school ethos”

    • Reminds researchers and practitioners of the social ‘context’ as a dynamic and interactive that is;

      • more or less health promoting (i.e. Can have an independent effect on health behaviours)

      • interacts with health promotion planning, implementation and evaluation



  • School ethos an independent factor on health outcomes l.jpg
    School health outcomes ethos - an independent factor on health outcomes

    • “Current strategies (i.e. focussing on individual characteristics, such as knowledge and attitudes) to improve teenage health are not having the desired effects...interventions aiming to promote a positive school ethos might provide an effective complement to existing interventions”

      • Bonell, C., Fletcher, A., McCambridge, J. (2007) Improving school ethos may reduce substance misuse and teenage pregnancy. British Medical Journal, 334: 614-616.


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    School health outcomes ethos - an independent factor on health outcomes

    • Observational studies;

      • School effects on pupils drug, alcohol, and tobacco.

        • ‘School effects’ statistical relationships that remain after controlling for individual, family and neighborhood confounding factors.

    • Experimental studies;

      • Introduce change to planning practices in the school by broadening partnerships, reviewing programs and policies with focus groups, diagnosing issues and collective decision making (i.e. project Gatehouse)


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    3) School ethos : interplay with health promotion health outcomesprogram implementation


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    School ethos health outcomes- interplay with implementation evaluation

    The school climate arises from routine organizational practices that are important to an organization's members.

    The school climate is created by the interpersonal dynamics, perceptions, attitudes and behaviours of its members.

    A health promotion program imposes changes among school personnel with respect to some of their regular activities and routines.


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    School ethos health outcomes- interplay with implementation evaluation

    • The concept “school ethos” implies that a health promotion program implementation is likely to play out in a dynamic, iterative process and not as a static treatment.


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    School ethos health outcomes- interplay potential for desired outcomes

    “whether or not a study addresses diet and activity may be less important than how the intervention addresses diet and activity” (Doak et a., 2006; pg. 126).

    How schools go about promoting health has more bearing on the health of students than the presence of a specific program (Stewart-Brown, 2006).

    Programs with “stakeholders in the decision making regarding the potential strategies to be implemented” are more likely to create a supportive environment for sustained action and positive impact (Summerbell, Waters, Edmunds, Kelly, Brown, & Campbell, 2007)


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    4) School ethos : a theoretical approach with evidence for an independent effect on student health


    School culture as an influencing factor on youth substance use l.jpg

    “School culture as an influencing factor on youth substance use”

    Sherri Bisset*, Wolfgang Markham**, Paul Aveyard***

    *Université de Montréal, Canada;

    **University of Warwick, United Kingdom;

    ***University of Birmingham, United Kingdom


    Study objective l.jpg
    Study Objective substance use”

    • To determine if a novel school-level measure of school performance is associated with the prevalence of substance misuse, after controlling for the composition of pupil risk factors in the school.


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    Theoretical proposition substance use”

    • Schools optimize pupil functioning through the provision of an appropriate balance of support and control (i.e. support and control are not normative but adjust to needs of pupils)

      • Support, facilitates the acquisition of knowledge and skills

      • Control refers to the processes used to ensure pupils’ behaviour is acceptable


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    Operationalization substance use”

    • Schools where both academic success and truancy rates are better than expected given the socio-demographic pupil composition provide value-added education

      • These schools are categorized as authoritative

    • Schools where both academic success and truancy rates are worse than expected given the socio-demographic pupil composition provide value-denuded education

      • These schools are categorized as laissez-faire


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    Study Design and Methodology substance use”

    • Cross-sectional self-reported survey of alcohol and drug consumption

      • West Midlands Young People’s Lifestyle Survey 1995/1996 (WMYPLS)

    • Data were collected across 15 West Midlands English school districts and included 25,789 grade 7, 9 and 11 pupils from166 UK secondary schools.

    • Analysis used two-level logistic modelling to relate schools providing value-added education with pupils' substance use.

      • Model adjusted for individual level confounders; gender, grade, ethnicity, housing tenure, eligibility for free school meal, drinking with parents, neighbourhood deprivation


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    Findings (1) substance use”

    • Value-added education was associated with reduced risk of early alcohol initiation

      • Odds Ratio (95% confidence interval) of 0.87 (0.78-0.95)

    • Estimated prevalence of early alcohol initiation according to the median value-added score


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    Findings substance use” (2)

    • Value-added education was associated with reduced risk of heavy alcohol consumption

      • Odds Ratio (95% confidence interval) of 0.91 (0. 85-0.96)

    • Estimated prevalence of heavy alcohol consumption according to the median value-added score;


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    Findings substance use” (3)

    • Value-added education was associated with reduced risk of use of illicit drugs

      • Odds Ratio (95% confidence interval) of 0.90 (0.82-0.98)

    • Estimated prevalence of use of illicit drugs according to the median value-added score;


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    Conclusions substance use”

    School ethos is a concept which attempts to account for and measure the social dynamics in the school.

    Recent research recognizes these interpersonal and professional dynamics as having an importance influence on the effectiveness of a health promotion program.

    Health promotion researchers have incorporated educational and parental theories to understand how the school ethos may independently influence students health behaviours.



    Study design and methodology24 l.jpg
    Study Design and Methodology substance use”

    • Cross-sectional self-reported survey of alcohol and drug consumption

      • West Midlands Young People’s Lifestyle Survey 1995/1996 (WMYPLS)

    • Data were collected across 15 West Midlands English school districts and included 25,789 grade 7, 9 and 11 pupils from166 UK secondary schools.

    • Analysis used two-level logistic modelling to relate schools providing value-added education with pupils' substance use.

      • Model adjusted for individual level confounders; gender, grade, ethnicity, housing tenure, eligibility for free school meal, drinking with parents, neighbourhood deprivation


    Background l.jpg
    Background; substance use”

    • Markham WA, Aveyard P. A new theory of health promoting schools based on human functioning, school organisation and pedagogic practice. Social Science & Medicine 2003;56(6):1209-20.

    • Aveyard P, Markham WA, Lancashire E, Almond J, Griffiths R, Cheng KK. Is inter-school variation in smoking uptake and cessation due to differences in pupil composition? A cohort study. Health & Place 2005;11(1):55-65.

    • Aveyard P, Markham WA, Cheng KK. A methodological and substantive review of the evidence that schools cause pupils to smoke. Social Science & Medicine 2004;58(11):2253-65.

    • Markham WA, Aveyard P, Thomas H, Charlton A, Lopez ML, De Vries H. What determines future smoking intentions of 12- to 13-year-old UK African-Caribbean, Indian, Pakistani and white young people? Health Education Research 2004;19(1):15-28.

    • Aveyard P, Markham WA, Lancashire E, Bullock A, Macarthur C, Cheng KK, et al. The influence of school culture on smoking among pupils. Social Science & Medicine 2004;58(9):1767-80.

    • Aveyard P, Markham WA, Almond J, Lancashire E, Cheng KK. The risk of smoking in relation to engagement with a school-based smoking intervention. Social Science & Medicine 2003;56(4):869-82.


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    Table 1. Sample Characteristics substance use”

    * Townsand score


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    Table 2. Substance use within sample substance use”

    * According to Townsand score


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