Healthy Early Years Scheme

Part of the Welsh Government Healthy Schools Scheme initiative

Healthy Early Years Scheme

The Healthy Early Years (HEY) Scheme is part of the Welsh Government Healthy Schools Scheme initiative. It is a national accreditation which acknowledges childcare settings as contributors to children’s health and well-being.

The scheme is aimed at all childcare provision, including playgroups, Cylchoedd Meithrin, day nurseries, after school clubs and childminders.

The scheme supports and links with several key areas of work including Flying Start; Estyn; CIW, Families First; Designed to Smile, Small Workplace Award, and the Gold Standard Healthy Snack Award.

The scheme encourages positive health behaviours in children from an early age, and includes the following key areas:

  • Nutrition and oral health
  • Physical activity and active play
  • Safety
  • Hygiene
  • Mental and emotional health, wellbeing, and relationships
  • Environment
  • Workplace health and wellbeing

How the scheme is implemented

The Healthy Early Years Scheme is implemented and accredited in stages called ‘phases’.

Settings must work to develop and promote the following 8 specific action areas of the scheme.

Preliminary Phase

A whole setting approach involves planning health programmes that are co-ordinated, comprehensive, and progressive, benefitting the whole setting community.

Nutrition and Oral Health

Reflecting a whole setting approach to food, nutrition, and oral health, incorporating the promotion of a healthy balanced diet based on current national guidance and good practice in relation to oral health.

Physical Activity/Active Play

Settings will support and promote a wide range of accessible physical activities and active play for children and staff including access to play environments and experiences that meet the developmental needs of children.

Mental and Emotional Health, Wellbeing and Relationships

Reflecting the ethos of the setting which should encourage mutual respect and promote the mental and emotional wellbeing, in the broadest sense, of all those who work within it. It also highlights the importance of the development of positive relationships and therefore covers some aspects of personal development.

Settings environment

A provision will promote a safe and stimulating environment which reflects the importance of the people within it, with an emphasis on caring for the environment within and outside of the setting.


Settings will reflect a proactive approach to all aspects of safety including consideration of all substances. It should be recognised that the parents and staff use of alcohol and illegal substances could affect the safety of the children in the setting. Smoking is also included in this section but should be considered as a health issue and not just a safety issue. Some aspects of safety are statutory e.g. safeguarding, health and safety and whilst reference is made to these they will need to be considered separately in more detail. Immunisation is also covered here as a safety issue. Keeping records of immunisation is good practice which is useful in the event of an outbreak.

Hygiene Settings

Hygiene Settings will reflect good hygiene, as it is crucially important to early year’s settings.

Workplace Health and Wellbeing

Promoting workplace with a commitment to the health and wellbeing of all staff. Good workspaces are important for physical and mental health and well-being. Employers who adopt good working practices will have a happy, healthy, and productive workforce, with lower levels of absence.

How to get involved

The scheme is fully endorsed by Estyn and the Care Inspectorate for Wales (CIW) and those registered on the scheme will receive:

  • Full support of a Specialist HEY Practitioner
  • Up to date advice and guidance
  • Training and resources
  • Links to the new curriculum
  • Access to the Gold Standard Healthy Snack Award

If you operate an early years setting and are interested in getting involved, please contact Nicola Greenway, the Healthy Early Years Caerphilly Coordinator by email at GREENN1@CAERPHILLY.GOV.UK.


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