Principals have an overarching responsibility to ensure students can participate fully in their education. They oversee that staff are appropriately trained and equipped with evidence-based resources to support students’ academic learning and wellbeing.
This is achieved by adopting a Health Promoting Schools framework, which guides a school to strengthen its capacity as a healthy setting for living, learning and working. The Principal oversees the interrelationship between these three components:
1. Curriculum, teaching and learning
The ovulatory-menstrual cycle spans the subject areas of biology, health, religious studies and personal development. The oversight of cross-curricula co-ordination and teacher training is a key responsibility of the leadership team. My Vital Cycles™ validated questionnaire measures changes in health literacy for any menstrual health initiatives.
2. School organisation, ethos and environment
These components of the Health Promoting Schools framework support the curriculum and encompass the school’s policies, philosophical approach to wellbeing (e.g. the principles of Positive Education) and physical environment (e.g. a health centre).
3. Partnerships and services
The Principal oversees the school’s mutually-supportive partnerships, which are both internal (e.g. the parent body, students and staff) and external (e.g. community based healthcare professionals and agencies).
A review of school-based resources indicates that menstrual health is a stigmatized subject which has been presented negatively. Furthermore, some teachers can find this subject awkward to teach. This may account for a tendency to outsource reproductive health education to external guest facilitators.
My Vital Cycles™ believes that the best support for teachers comes with providing validated resources and tools which enable them to meet curricula requirements and to feel confident using the latest pedagogical techniques to engage students.
School Healthcare Professionals
School healthcare professionals (e.g. nurses, counsellors, chaplains and psychologists) form the internal partnerships with teachers and external partnerships with families and professional bodies. My Vital Cycles™ believes that the best support for school healthcare professionals comes with validated materials and training to reinforce formal lessons and to support girls. For example, if a girl experiences debilitating menstrual symptoms, a health management plan could support her care as happens with asthma or diabetes.