Increasing physical activity in school

Physical activity in schoo

There is currently a lot of focus on PE, school sport and physical activity (PESSPA) due to the recent increase in the PE and Sport Premium funding.  Part of this funding is to be used to increase the amount of physical activity that happens during the school day.  This is great, but what does increased activity look like in your school?  How can you fit it in with all your other responsibilities? And why bother?

Why do more physical activity?

Your pupils will have PE lessons and some after-school clubs, why is this not enough?  Curriculum PE will be at best 2 hours per week at best and at as little as 30 minutes at worst.  Guidelines for children aged 5 – 18-year-olds recommends 60 minutes of moderate and vigorous activity each day.  Recent studies show on 15% of girls, and 22% of boys are reaching this target as a result, intervention is needed.

How can your school support pupils with increased physical activity?  By introducing novel but practical ideas that can see a dramatic increase in your children’s activity levels.

Active travel

This means when your pupils make it to school under their own steam meaning, running, walking, scooting, or cycling. However, this is not always possible with some children living a long way from their school.  So why not try exclusion zones? If you implement an exclusion zone it prevents parents dropping children by car at the school gate.  Therefore a 500-metre exclusion zone would mean every pupil walking an extra 5 kilometres per week.  These exclusion zones have also been shown to improve air quality and road safety outside the school and can be tailored to the geography of your school.

Informal activity

There are lots of organisations trying to help schools develop their informal activity.  The BBC is one such organisation and their programme Super Movers has been designed specifically to help marry increased activity with curriculum learning.  A library of videos guide teachers and school staff through relevant KS1 & KS2 curriculum linked classroom activity.

Active Environments

Ensure children have access to resources at break and lunch times.  Playground equipment does not need to be complicated, skipping ropes, hoops, balls and bibs can open up a world of opportunity for pupils.

Properly dividing your playground can mean pupils feel safe and know where to go for different types of activity.  This could mean a zone for competitive games such as netball or football. An area where playground leaders and lunchtime supervisors support activity and a section in which pupils can create their own active experiences (think skipping, cats cradle and hopscotch).

Skilled workforce

For more physical activity to be included in your school day, upskilling ALL your staff is essential.  Not only will they be equipped to support but they will be on board to promote what’s happening.  Lunchtime supervisor training is usually readily available from your school sports partnership or local county sports partnership.  Speak with schools in your area, they may already be implementing some of these ideas and can point you in the right direction to get started.

Great physical activity starts with an excellent PE curriculum and should not be used as a replacement for adequately taught lessons;

‘while the quest for physical activity is important, it must not and cannot be at the expense of developing physically competent young people’ AfPE.

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