National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP)

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What is the NCMP? 

The National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) has been part of the Government’s strategy to reduce childhood obesity since 2006. The programme is a statutory function of Local Authority Public Health, and in Devon it is delivered by the School Nursing Team. The NCMP was developed as a population level ‘surveillance’ programme, which means its main purpose is to collect robust data to monitor how trends in children’s growth is changing over time in order to inform local service provision and support child health initiatives and policy.  

The programme is delivered within the school setting, and children from Reception and Year 6 have their height and weight measured by the School Nursing Team.  Via school, parents/carers are sent a letter provided by Devon Public Health prior to the measurements taking place and have the option to opt their children out. Additionally, irrespective of whether children have been opted out by their parents/carers, no child will be made to participate on the day if they don’t want to. All measurements are taken in private and are not discussed with children or any staff members. Children are also unable to see their measurements when they are taken.  

Schools are notified about the start of the programme and are contacted to arrange a suitable date for the measurements to take place. Schools are also asked to:  

  • Provide a private location for the measurements (not toilets, libraries, or locations where there is throughfare)  
  • Ensure that contact details for parents are up to date on the School Census returns  
  • Inform any parents/carers of new pupils of the programme and provide them with the parent information  
  • Identify children who are unable to be measured unaided due to disability or medical condition  
  • Send pre-measurement information to parents (provided by Public Health Devon) 
  • Arrange for staff to help bring children to and from the measurement area  

The NCMP’s focus is childhood weight which can be a divisive and challenging topic. Devon Public Health are committed to providing a compassionate approach to healthier weight, which considers weight as an outcome of numerous biological, psychological, social, economic, and environmental interconnecting factors rather than an independent ‘problem’. This approach is predominantly focused on prevention, seeking to improve the wider environmental and contextual factors that affect people’s wellbeing. It also includes pro-actively challenging weight stigma, focusing on health gains, rejecting harmful narratives around weight, and being person-centred.  

As part of this approach, is important to consider the overall context for children and young people in which childhood weight sits, and we recognise that there has been an increase in the number of children and young people struggling with eating behaviours and disordered eating, particularly following the pandemic. Therefore, whole school approaches which seek to holistically improve health and wellbeing for the whole school community, and educational outcomes for pupils, are encouraged. This includes: 

  • Supporting pupils through the curriculum to develop the necessary knowledge and skills to engage with movement and be active, eat a well-balanced and varied diet, and develop positive health behaviours  
  • Supporting pupils to understand the relationship between physical and mental health and wellbeing and what factors contribute to wellbeing  
  • Promoting a positive culture around eating behaviours and food and supporting pupils to find activities they enjoy and can sustain 
  • Supporting pupils to develop good emotional health and wellbeing, self-esteem, and self-efficacy  
  • Facilitating access to nutritious food and opportunities to be active 
  • Developing a school ethos and culture that prioritises health and wellbeing and recognises how wellbeing and education outcomes are inherently linked 
  • Working effectively in partnership with parents/carers and the wider community to promote child health and wellbeing and provide support where needed 

After the measurements have been taken, in some cases the School Nursing Team may follow up with parents/carers within 6 weeks to share information about their child’s growth and offer compassionate support and evidence-based advice and information where it is appropriate and wanted.  

The measurement data collected is held securely by Devon County Council and is anonymised and submitted to NHS England for analysis, which is also shared with the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID). Examples of how the data is analysed and presented are available here 

If you would like any more information or to talk further about the NCMP, please get in touch with us at dswp@devon.gov.uk 

 

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