Following the research conducted in the school two years ago by St Andrews University, Portobello High School’s Modern Studies department was delighted to receive an invitation by Dr. Candice Currie and her team to take part in the launch event of the World Health Organisation’s recent study into the social determinants of adolescent health. The study (called Health Behaviours in School-aged Children Report, or HBSC Report for short) looked at the inequalities in health and well being from the perspective of gender, age and socio-economic status from 39 countries, including Europe, North America and some parts of the Middle East.
The HBSC event was launched at Dovecot Studios in Edinburgh on the 2nd May 2012 and received considerable media attention, with many of the major newspapers and news channels focusing on the positive reports of Scotland’s young people drinking less fizzy juice and having a positive outlook on life. The event focused on the findings of the report, both internationally and locally, with speakers from the World Health Organisation, Vivian B. Barnekow, HBSC Scotland, Jo Inchley, and Tam Baillie, Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People. Ten of Mrs Banks’ Higher class were lucky enough to sit in the audience and listen to the findings, and further discuss the issues raised with many of the speakers at the ‘meet and greet’ event afterwards.
As well as sitting in the audience, four of the S6 students from the class, Courtney Barr, Matthew Wilcox, Sarah Jamieson and Ross McWhirter, were chosen to sit on a panel of experts on young people and health, and were asked questions on their experiences of health and well-being in Scotland today. This was an amazing opportunity for our students, as they were amongst some of the most highly regarded academics on the subject, such as George Patton, lead author and editor of the Lancet series on Adolescent Health at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, and Dominic Richardson from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. All four pupils were able to speak from their own experiences in a highly mature and sophisticated manner, and greatly impressed a room of academics and social policy makers.
The school has received extremely positive feedback on our participation in the event; as many of the conference delegates said how informative and beneficial it was to have the pupils speak at the event, especially since the report is all about them. All the pupils involved on the day found the event extremely useful and insightful, especially with their Higher Modern Studies exam so close at hand, and were able to use the knowledge they had learned to good use only two weeks later!
From Gillian Tee, Director of Children and Families, City of Edinburgh Council:
“Just a note to say that I have had wonderful feedback from various sources about the contribution of four pupils from Portobello High School at the recent World Health Organisation Conference. It is always good to receive such glowing feedback. I would be grateful if you could pass on my congratulations to the pupils and staff involved”.
From Martine Miller, Research Assistant, St Andrews University:
“I thought the conference went really well and the pupils were truly amazing. Their contributions to the discussions was outstanding and they answered questions posed to them by conference delegates in a highly confident and capable manner. I felt extremely proud on their behalf”.