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Getting all children active

Following the government’s announcement this week with all children returning to school, we all face the challenge to encourage our children to become more active. The latest research shows only 19% of children under 16 were doing an hour or more of physical activity (meeting CMO guidelines) on a typical day*. And around 43% of children under the age of 16 were reported to have been doing less than half an hour of physical activity a day during lockdown. 

Many of our children will not have been in school for over 8 weeks, plus the Christmas and half-term break. Therefore, missing out on playtimes, lunchtimes, PE lessons, active classroom lessons and outdoor learning, to name a few areas. Some children may not have left their house; some may have only been in the garden or on their balcony. If we add just the playtime and lunchtime activities, that is a massive 40 hours of missed physical activity.

This is the perfect opportunity for you as schools to introduce as much activity as possible into your school day. Let’s make this the new normal.

Ideas for increasing activity levels

  1. Promote Active Travel to and from school

If most children drive to your school is there a way that you could arrange for a drop off point away from school and the children have a ‘walking taxi.’ This may help ease congestion away from the school as well.

  1. Brain Bursts

Many of our children will need to retrain their bodies and brains to concentrate again without the distraction of a class full of children. These should be short and snappy; you shouldn’t need to leave your teaching area. They also do not need to be screen-based; all of the online activities are easy that you as teachers could lead yourself with little or no preparation.  

  1. Active Mile

This should not take more than 15 minutes to complete. Have you tried varying how this is set up to keep the children engaged? If you are expecting your children to do lots of small laps how could you break up the monotony of this?   If you do not have the space to offer the active mile could you look at a walking mile? Is it safe for you to walk half a mile away from your school and walk half a mile back? Remember this should take no more than 15 minutes.

  1. Active 15

Many schools have established an Active 15 timetable that is led by year 5/6 children every day of the week. Activities range from skipping, obstacle course, Zumba type exercises, circuits and traditional playtime games.

  1. Active Lessons

There are a few companies online pushing Active maths and Active English ideas, please by all means have a lot but I honestly feel that as professionals you could all reproduce your own ideas. An example I have seen is called Tagtiv8, this is essence is a set of rugby tag belts (most if not all schools have a set) with numbers, maths symbols attached. You set different challenges as you would in the class however in a practical way. 

If you would like more information or ideas please contact Aimee Tilley who is happy to help -

Here is a link to a research paper with case studies What works in schools and colleges to increase physical activity?

Aimee Tilley, Lead Leader PE/ODL