The School Health Research Network (SHRN) brings together secondary schools and academic researchers, policy-makers and practitioners from health, education and social care to improve young people’s health and wellbeing in the school setting. It is a partnership between Welsh Government, Public Health Wales (PHW), Cancer Research UK and the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research, Data and Methods. It is led by the Centre for the Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement (DECIPHer) at Cardiff University.

It aims to improve young people’s health and wellbeing by:

  • Providing robust health and wellbeing data for school, regional and national stakeholders;
  • Working with policy-makers and practitioners from health, education and social care to co-produce high quality, school based health and wellbeing research for Wales;
  • Helping schools, and those who support schools, to understand health research evidence and how it can be used in schools.

SHRN was launched with 69 schools in 2013 with funding from the Medical Research Council. In 2015/16, with funding from Health and Care Research Wales, half of all schools (115) joined. In 2017 recruitment was open to all secondary and middle schools resulting in all of the maintained, mainstream secondary schools in Wales becoming Network schools.

Network schools complete a bilingual electronic Student Health and Wellbeing Survey every two years. The survey is based on the World Health Organization’s collaborative Health Behaviour of School-aged Children (HBSC) Survey to allow integration of the two surveys every four years and is accompanied by a School Environment Questionnaire, which allows relationships between school policies and practices and student health to be investigated. Questions are developed in consultation with key stakeholders in schools, PHW and Welsh Government. The surveys provide a flexible and responsive infrastructure to collect data on school practice, emerging and policy-relevant issues and provide a cost effective infrastructure to conduct school-based surveys, research studies and natural experiments of new policies.

This film, in both Welsh and English was made as a result of a Royal Society of Public Health initiative. It shows the benefits of the School Health Research Network to all of its members – secondary schools, policy makers and researchers in Wales. Brynteg School, Bridgend and Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Morgannwg, Vale of Glamorgan, both Network schools, kindly supported the filming.