Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Why schools should promote students’ health and wellbeing

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: (Published 13 May 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g3078

Rapid Response:

Re: Why schools should promote students’ health and wellbeing

It is true that schools sometimes actively impede pupils' health; a fact that I have raised previously in these columns.[1]

Schools in my area require pupils to wear uniform which is dark and non-conspicuous, reducing their safety on their journeys between home and school. This was described to me as "camouflage" by an official of the Local Authority Road Safety Officers Association. They also ban hats and gloves in cold weather. These measures all provide a disincentive to walking to school.

I raised this with my children's schools. The boards of governors refused to permit me to address them about this. The chair of governors at my son's school wrote: "I have learned to be sceptical about the “opinions” of so-called experts. I am sure I do not have to remind you of the consequences of relying on the advice of two of your medical colleagues — Roy Meadow and Andrew Wakefield."[2]

The local authority and department for education confirmed that governors are all-powerful in these decisions. They are not obliged to conform to health and safety guidance.


1. English PMB. Death on the roads: Schools obstruct road safety measures. Br Med J 2006;333(7560):200-. (

2. English PMB. School uniforms and conspicuity of school pupils. Peter English's random musings (blog) 2013; Updated 10 October 2013; Accessed: 2014 (14 May): (

Competing interests: No competing interests

14 May 2014
Peter M English
Public Health Physician
N/A - personal response
Epsom KT19 9XF