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. See the tabs on the left hand side to find out more about these objectives.

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

Check to see if you are one of the schools invited to join the Health for Life programme for the academic year 2024/25…


Accept your invitation!

Come along to the briefing to learn all about what the programme entails, the funding grant you will receive and how you can build HfL into your curriculum to benefit your pupils and staff in an exciting and dynamic way.

Book Your Places Now

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.

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
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
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
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
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)
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

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

Mondelez International logo

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


What is the Health for Life Cookathon?

We invited schools to share in our love of healthy eating by cooking along with celebrity chef, Poppy O’Toole (aka Poppy Cooks), and fellow schools/settings on 28th February 2024.

Poppy created a recipe specifically for Cookathon participants and recorded a cooking masterclass in time for the event. Poppy also joined students at a chosen school for a live Cookathon demo, taking pupils through her Marinated lemon and honey chicken flatbread recipe, teaching them invaluable cooking skills.

 Why take part in the Health For Life Cookathon?

We are very proud to have such an amazing community of schools across Birmingham. The Cookathon is an exciting event which offers a chance to celebrate and promote healthy lifestyles, whilst working safely and collaboratively. 

 You can also use the Cookathon to: 

  • Create or strengthen links with parents and families (if you invite them in to join in).
  • Offer your pupils a real-life opportunity to embed your DT curriculum in an inspiring way.
  • Inspire your pupils to consider future careers in catering and hospitality, whilst experiencing fun and healthy eating.
  • Promote your school to the rest of your school, group or community.
  • Promote healthy eating to others.

Pink star icon with a mini person icon within it.  Share your successes!

We would love you to share your pictures and stories with us so we can see how you get on, on the day and after the event.

This will also help us to create a real healthy eating buzz on social media in the education community and beyond!

Please tweet your photos and use #Cookathon2024 so we can see what you’re doing and tag us in @SFE_Tweets & @SFE_SS

   Who can take part?

Any schools can take part, in fact the more the merrier! The recipe and instructions will be made accessible to all.

Picture of two children cooking with their teacher. Symbolises the Health For Life Programme

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.

  Cookathon FAQs

We know the thought and preparation that go into organising school events, so we will make this as easy as possible for all to take part. Please see our FAQs below for some info.

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.

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 you.

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

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.

Sign up using the form and you will get access to:

  • The specially crafted, healthy, Cookathon recipe.
  • An equipment list of what will be needed – all items will be readily accesible to schools.
  • Hints and tips on how to make the Cookathon a truly succesful event at your school, involving your whole school community.

  Previous Cookathons

Our Cookathon 2020

The 2020 Cookathon took place on Tuesday 11th February 2020, with Birmingham’s own Michelin Star Chef Glynn Purnell at the helm. You can still use our video and printable resources, below.

Download Glynn Purnell’s Winter Vegetable Soup recipe here

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.

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.

To mark this phenomenal achievement, three ‘10th Year Anniversary Grants’ have been offered to schools who could show that Health for Life truly is a part of school life. Successful schools will receive £5000 each in order to build on existing success in one of the strands of the Health for Life programme; Healthy Eating and Cooking, Growing Food or Physical Activity.

The panel had an immensely difficult but enjoyable task in reading through all of the applications and wish to commend all of those who applied.

The three successful schools (in no particular order) are (drum roll!)… …


Judges’ comments:
“The proposal and presentation was clearly pupil led and the video captured their enthusiasm and excitement to provide a long term resource for a greater variety of outdoor activity with fitness equipment which will also be available to the wider community and for school holiday clubs.”

“I loved that the submission was led by the children and their ambitious fitness area would be open to all – for the children, staff, families and wider community within school time but also during holiday time.”


Judges’ comments:
“The school submitted a comprehensive presentation with a proposal to provide a diverse outdoor classroom, linking with all key strands of the Health for Life programme, to be used throughout the school day, for lessons and at break-times, and also to be available to enrich family involvement.”

“Highfield had great vision for their outdoor classroom and recognised the positive health benefits from growing, cooking and physical exercise – they even thought about the benefits to the local wildlife!”


Judges’ comments:
“The presentation demonstrated an embedded whole school approach to the programme and illustrated how the community is involved; the proposal to create a permanent kitchen for pupils clearly showed the school’s ambition not only to sustain but also to build upon what they have already achieved in Health for Life.”

“I was really impressed with the commitment from Hillstone to dedicate space for a kitchen classroom and provide additional investment to make it a reality, so that their children, staff and families will benefit from cooking lessons now and in the future – an important life skill.”


And a huge thank you to everyone who submitted an application. Family involvement still remains at the heart of Health for Life and we were delighted to have received so many creative and meaningful award submissions.

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.

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:

Page Last Modified:  24/04/2024 08:27