What the Essential Award is and how your school can achieve it.

The Essential Award gives an overview of key Healthy Schools topics.

To get the Essential Award, you'll need to carry out key actions to:

  • increase pupils' physical activity
  • make sure school food is healthy
  • support pupils' mental health and wellbeing

How long it takes to do the Essential Award

You must complete the Essential Award within 1 year. 

Start working towards the Essential Award

Use our online system to:

  • see the award criteria and guidance
  • tell us you're starting to work towards the essential award
  • send us evidence of your work
  • track your progress
  • submit your finished work

Go to the online system

Download the award criteria for:

How we support you


  • work with you and with your school nurse, giving guidance over email
  • provide a directory of advice, guidance and resources
  • give extra support to schools working in the  most deprived areas or with the most vulnerable pupils, we'll contact you to arrange this

Download documents to help you complete the award

How we assess your work

We'll look at your work and compare it to the award criteria. We'll let you know if we you need to do more work to get the award within 4 weeks of you submitting your work

What you'll get 

When your school achieves the Essential Award we'll:

  • send you a certificate
  • send you digital logos that you can add to your website or letterheads
  • add you to our Healthy Schools website, so your local community and other schools can learn about the work your staff and pupils did to earn the awards

 You can also work towards specialist awards