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Establishing a Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) model in your school

The Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) model is a collaborative approach to learning and health that answers the call for greater alignment, integration, and collaboration between education and health to improve each child’s cognitive, physical, social, and emotional development.

In this post adapted from Elementary School Wellness Education, we explore the steps you’ll need to take to establish the WSCC model in your school.

What does the WSCC model consist of?

The WSCC model consists of 10 components:

  1. Health Education
  2. Physical Education and Physical Activity
  3. Nutrition Environment and Services
  4. Health Services
  5. Counselling, Psychological and Social Services
  6. Social and Emotional Climate
  7. Physical Environment
  8. Employee Wellness
  9. Family Engagement
  10. Community Involvement

Implementing the WSCC model

Hunt and colleagues (2015) provided a sequence of steps helpful in establishing the WSCC model within a school. Those steps are outlined below.

Form a committee

The first step involves forming a committee of individuals who are interested and passionate about improving the health and academic outcomes of students. Establishment of a committee should include a clear statement about the authority given to the committee and which decisions will require approval from an administrator or school board.

Conduct a needs assessment

Before designing a WSCC plan, conduct a needs assessment. This assessment determines the health-risking and health-promoting behaviors that are prevalent among students and how these behaviors are related to academic achievement. A variety of sources and tools can be used to identify the priority health problems and health-risk behaviours of students in a district or school. Staff within the school or district might have access to additional useful data. For example, the nutrition services director has data on breakfast and lunch meal counts and might have information concerning the specific foods students eat from school meals.

Prioritise outcomes

Committee members should review the results of the needs assessment and identify priority health-related areas that need improvement. It is desirable to narrow the list of priorities to a manageable number of health problems or risk behaviors. In addition, it is important to set specific and realistic outcome expectations with clear indicators that will demonstrate what success will look like when the outcomes are achieved.

Determine health outcomes and academic achievement

The next suggested step is to determine the relationship between the selected health outcome and academic achievement. It is practical for the committee to choose priorities that have both clear health and academic outcomes. 

Identify interventions

his step involves identifying promising or effective interventions that have the greatest potential for affecting the chosen health outcomes. Use evidence-based programs that target health problems or risk behaviors of the children. 

Determine collaboration

Determine how staff and other committee members will collaborate and align to maximize success in achieving priority health and academic outcomes. Engage the key individuals representing or working within the WSCC components who will be involved in implementing the recommendations. Determining how interventions or actions will be coordinated requires concrete steps, including establishing schedules, timelines, milestones, and deliverables; establishing effective communications; holding periodic meetings to identify problems and effective solutions to those problems; and reporting progress as a form of accountability.

Engage community agencies and organisations

Invite community agencies and organisations that have a mission or similar interest in addressing the identified priority health and academic outcomes. Expand the committee’s membership beyond school or district staff to include neighborhood and community members who can focus school and community resources on achieving the priority health and education outcomes. Volunteers or public health agencies frequently have health expertise and resources that can help districts or schools successfully reach their goals.

Create an action plan

Create an action plan to affect the chosen health outcome. Make concrete plans with timelines and all actions assigned to specific people, such as those responsible for implementing interventions, completing committee tasks, and monitoring progress in meeting expected outcomes.

Implement an action plan

Implement and monitor the results of the action plan. During implementation, the committee should meet regularly to ensure that all tasks are being completed on time and to troubleshoot any problems that arise. Plans are not static and might need to be changed during the implementation process. Evaluation should be a regular part of committee meetings to monitor implementation and look for barriers and unexpected difficulties. Collection of information throughout the implementation process will help ensure that the committee is able to understand the implementation of new interventions or practices.

Monitor the action plan

Develop a plan to monitor the implementation and outcomes of interventions. An action plan is only effective if people act on it, if it is implemented as intended, and if there is a way to discern whether it made a real difference. Districts and schools rarely have the resources to conduct full-scale outcome evaluations, but using interventions with evidence of effectiveness minimizes the need for this type of evaluation. Instead, districts and schools can determine how they will use their evaluation findings and shape their monitoring and evaluation plan around these goals. The committee can collect and analyze simple monitoring data to determine how, when, and where activities are conducted and who participates in each activity. In terms of outcomes, the committee can determine the level of changes they wish to explore. Some might decide to document changes observed in the classroom, school environment, or provision of services. Others might want to identify the strengths and weaknesses of their policies or practices and make a plan for improvement.

Elementary School Wellness Education book cover

Adapted from:

Elementary School Wellness Education

Matthew Cummiskey and Frances Cleveland Donnelly

Header image by Yan Krukov

This entry was posted in: Coaching & PE


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