Developing and disseminating a curriculum innovation

Year: 1994

Author: Williams, Phillip, James, Erica, Moore, Deborah, Coulter, Bernie, Titheridge, Cheryl

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The Coalfields district of the Hunter Valley of New South Wales has a significantly higher death rate from cardiovascular disease for both sexes compared with State and national averages. Public concern and growing awareness from school principals led to the development of a co-ordinated school-based response. This paper describes the strategies used in developing and disseminating a primary school health education innovation to public schools in a high risk, disadvantaged area. The project was based on the evidence that the development of heart disease begins in childhood and that it is reasonable to adopt effective prevention strategies at a relatively young age through the school system.

The innovation became known as the Coalfields Healthy Heartbeat Schools Project (CHHSP). The project has been adopted by twelve schools in the Coalfields following a planned dissemination process which has been in place for over 18 months. The process involved a collaborative approach between the schools and a community coalition of external agencies. The innovation is based on the concept of "health promoting school communities" and involves school policies, classroom lessons and parental encouragement.

The stages of dissemination used for the project were based on the diffusion of innovations theory which proposes three stages: adoption, implementation and institutionalisation. This paper describes the process of adoption only. As the dissemination process continues, implementation and institutionalisation will be able to be evaluated.