National Child Measurement Programme

The National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) weighs and measures children in reception class and year 6 in schools across Cornwall every year.

We know your child’s health and wellbeing is very important to you which is why once the measurements have been completed we will send you the measurements, and the weight category for your child. You can use this information to check if your child is growing as expected for their age. The information is important as it supports the decisions you are already making that will help your child maintain a healthy lifestyle.

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Watch our short video of local GP Dr Alex Burns, who explains a bit more about NCMP. 

Your child will be weighed in their clothes in a private area by your school nurse. The measurements will never be shared with teachers, other children or your child - unless you choose to do so.

You will have a letter in your child's book bag on the day they have been measured which will explain what has happened in more detail. We’ve also made a frequently asked questions sheet which might help answer some of your questions.

Measurements are sent home to you in a letter from Cornwall Council Public Health Team in a confidential envelope. The letter takes approximately 6 weeks to arrive from the day your child was measured.

The letter will contain your child’s BMI centile and your child will fall into one of four categories: underweight, healthy weight, overweight or very overweight.

It is not possible to tell if a child is a healthy weight by just looking, so your child’s measurements are used to calculate a BMI centile. This compares their height and weight to other children of the same age and sex. 

Most children’s BMI centile is between 2 and 90, if their BMI centile is below 2 or over 90 it doesn’t mean they are unfit or unhealthy but it is important to look in more detail at what the reasons for this may be. A BMI centile under 2 would suggest being underweight, a BMI centile over 90 would suggest having excess weight. 

Children’s BMI centile can change in a short space of time, it is recommended to measure BMI centile again in 6 months’ time so that as your child’s weight and height changes you can continue to check it. 

You can check your child's BMI measurements again on the NHS website

Watch our short video where Dr Alex Burns explains what a BMI centile is:

The results may be reassuring but they may also surprise or worry you.  We know you do a great job as a parent and this is not a criticism of what you have been doing. The results are a designed to help you in understanding if your child’s height and weight are growing as expected.

Dr Alex Burns has some advice if your surprised by the result.


If the results are not as you expected there's a few other things you may choose to do:

  • Call the Cornwall Healthy Weight Team on 01209 313419 - they are a great team who specialise in helping children and their families make healthy lifestyle choices. They can organise individual or group workshops at the school to help you and your children make healthy choices. See this little film to see how they helped Leigho and others to make changes 

  • If you are confused by the results then please do give us a call and we can help. We’ve made a Frequently Asked Questions guide which might help you.
  • Have a chat with your school nurse. They may be able to offer you some suggestions, or can point you to other methods of support and advice.
  • Speak to your GP if you have any questions about your child's growth and weight. There may be instances where we are concerned for a child's health and will write to you separately to ask you to make contact with your GP. If your child is underweight we will make contact with your GP directly to invite you and your child in for a chat.
  • If you want to make some changes on your own you could try these top sugar swap tips or download the Change 4 life Sugar Smart app to help you find out how much sugar is in your child's food and drink.

This is entirely up to you. The letter is sent to you, and the school won't tell them the result. Some parents decide to tell their children and talk about the changes they need to make together. Others decide not to, and make subtle changes without their child noticing. You can get some advice on how to talk to your child about their weight on the Weight Concern website.

No they do not. Some parents and schools opt out of the NCMP programme, and you will be offered the chance to do this on the green form in the "Your Child's Health at School" booklet. We do recommend that your child takes part so you can check if your child is growing as expected for their age. The information is important as it supports the decisions you are already making that will help your child maintain a healthy lifestyle. The information also helps to paint a national picture, and helps the NHS plan its services for the future. The more children that take part the better the picture and the better we can support those who would like some help.

In this short video, Dr Burns talks a bit about trends in children's weight over the years.

Amy attended the Cornwall Healthy Weight Course in St Austell in April 2014.

Amy's mum Emma said: 

“Amy is noticeably slimmer and is more aware of what she eats. As a family we have made changes to what we eat, portion sizes and how often we eat. Where possible we are walking more and playing outdoors, we do more exercise on the whole. The most useful thing about the Healthy Weight 7-13 years programme was having knowledgeable staff who were friendly, approachable and able to answer our questions. Despite my negative attitude at the start of the programme I have actually really enjoyed it and learnt a great deal! The staff have been fantastic and really took on board Amy's differences and worked really well with her"