It is generally accepted that schools should devote resources to developing and disseminating a health education policy, yet there is little empirical evidence to establish the value of policy in this context. This study examined teachers' perceptions of health education practice in policy and non-policy holding schools. A questionnaire measuring aspects of health education practice was issued to a random sample of schools. This consisted of 276 primary and 119 post-primary schools. In this cross-sectional study, significant differences in teachers' evaluations were found between policy and non-policy holding schools. It was evident that the presence of a health education policy was associated with higher ratings of health education practice. This evidence suggests that policy has intrinsic value in terms of health education practice. The development and dissemination of policy documents were also examined to assess the workload involved.