Through the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP), the height and weight of primary school children in reception (4 to 5 years old) and year 6 (aged 10 to 11 years old) is measured.
The aim of the programme is to monitor childhood growth and help families recognise the need to make changes which support a healthier lifestyle.
If you are concerned about your child’s growth you can contact a school nurse for advice, find their school nurse here.
It can be hard to recognise that your child is a healthy weight since they may look very similar in build to their peers. However, one in three year 6 pupils and one in five reception children are in fact overweight or very overweight. Children who are very overweight may continue to struggle as adults to maintain a healthy weight, and will be at greater risk of developing health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers.
You should receive a letter from your child’s school with more information about the programme. The height and weight measurements are taken by trained health professionals at school, and children remain fully clothed. The measurements are carried out in a sensitive way and in private, and the results are not shared with teachers or other pupils.
A few weeks after the children have been measured, you’ll receive the results through the post in an envelope, addressed to you as the parent or carer, marked private and confidential; it is advised this letter is not opened by your child. If your child is overweight or very overweight, you’ll also be sent some information about small lifestyle changes you can make as a family, plus details of local healthy lifestyle services. Most children who are underweight for their age are perfectly healthy, but there will be information on how to access support if you are concerned.
Your child doesn’t have to take part in the programme, but it’s important that as many children are involved as possible since the NCMP provides data about obesity levels in children. This information is used to inform decisions about local and national public health initiatives and the provision of services.
In this short film, a local GP, a public health nurse (school nurse) and a dietitian talk about why the NCMP is important, what the results mean and what support is available to you should you wish to make some simple lifestyle changes.
If you still have questions and concerns, you may find these Frequently asked questions about the NCMP useful, as well as this resource from Change4Life. The main Change4Life information page about school height and weight checks can be accessed here.