Essential Award

Essential Award

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

The Essential Award is the first Healthy School award a school can work towards. It gives an overview of key Healthy Schools topics. You must get this award before you can get a specialist award or advanced award.

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

  • improve personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE)
  • increase pupils’ physical activity
  • make sure school food is healthy
  • support pupils’ mental health and wellbeing

We want 90% of Bristol schools to have achieved the Essential Award by 2025. Once you’ve achieved the Essential Award it’s valid for three years.

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 (pdf, 411KB) (opens new window) .

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

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

After you achieve the Essential award you can work towards specialist awards

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