Integration of health and wellbeing into the school curriculum: a mixed methods investigation of preparations for Wales-wide school reform and its impacts on health and wellbeing


Schools can have good or bad influences on young people’s health and wellbeing. They are important settings for early intervention to prevent later physical and mental health problems. Effective prevention may reduce costs to health services later in life. Wales’ education system is currently undergoing major reform. From 2022, all schools will implement a new curriculum, which, for the first time, will place Health and Well-being at the centre of learning. An aim of the curriculum is that all children in Wales will be “healthy, confident individuals”. Health and wellbeing will become 1 of 6 Areas of Learning and Experience (AoLE) alongside Expressive Arts; Humanities; Languages; Literacy and Communication; Mathematics and Numeracy; and Science and Technology. School reform has the potential for widespread benefit to pupils, schools and wider society; however, it could also lead to unintended harms. This is why it is important that new policies, such as this one, are accompanied by good quality evaluations. This research provides a time limited opportunity to lay the foundations for a high quality evaluation of the impacts of the new curriculum on pupil health and wellbeing.

Aims and Objectives

This research aims to: i) understand the aims of reform, and processes around its introduction, from the perspectives of stakeholders in Welsh education policy; ii) identify appropriate measures of pupil health and well-being, to judge the success of the reform; iii) seek the views of school staff on what they think about the new curriculum, and how it will work in practice; iv) bring the findings together, providing a landscape to carry out a well-considered and detailed evaluation of the impact of the reform on the health and well-being of pupils in Wales.

Study Design

Interviews will be carried out with around 30 people whose work is linked to education policy in Wales. These interviews will be used to get an understanding of what people think about the role of schools in health and well-being; what they think the reform will look like in practice; and how to evidence whether the new curriculum has been successful. We will also measure the health and well-being of pupils that have not received the new curriculum, and from this set-up a group of pupils to compare and contrast against pupils who receive the new curriculum in the coming years. More interviews with school staff will help us understand how the new curriculum might achieve its aims for young people, schools and wider society. We will then bring all the findings together, to develop a picture of how the curriculum is expected to work. This will inform its implementation and how it will be evaluated. At the end of the fellowship, we will apply to a research funder to do a large evaluation of the reform.

Public Involvement and Dissemination

Non-academic partners and the public, including school staff, policy partners, and pupils’ parents, will be consulted throughout this fellowship. The research is accompanied by a strategy for communicating findings to all of the people that might benefit. As well as publishing in scientific journals, we will make booklets and use social media channels such as Twitter, and webinars with school staff to reach wide audiences. A group of young people will advise us throughout the study.

Further Information and Publications

The Mother of All Fellowships: Blog by Sara Long


Start date

October 2019

End date

September 2022