This week is European Week of Sport! Punctuated on Wednesdays National Fitness Day @FitnessdayUK
This week European Week of Sport reminds us that inactivity is a leading factor in poor health and it's time to get involved and get active. Organisations such as schools, Gyms, recreation centres and activity events across the country are opening their doors and providing free activities throughout the week and particularly on Wednesday which is also National Fitness Day.
Nearly half of all EU citizens don’t do any sport. The growing sedentary epidemic is responsible for the increased rates of heart disease, diabetes and obesity related cancers. The initiative now in its fifth year aims to raise awareness on the benefit and positive impact of sport staying active.
Last year’s participation was outstanding as 13 million people took part in 50,000 events supported by 47 partner organisations in 42 countries from Ukraine to Malta.
Events being put on include Salsa events in the middle of London, runs, fencing, martial arts, yoga and dancing. The hashtag #beactive is being used on social media throughout the week so spread the word with this hashtag and let’s help to get it trending.
Those wanting to learn more about the event and how they can participate should check the website out here.
Whilst yesterday saw Mind hosting #MindfulMonday a series of events across the country showing how sport can support mental well-being. Wednesday’s National Fitness Day is considered the most active day of the year when hundreds of schools, workplaces, gyms and leisure centres how events up and down the country.
Thursday is the Day of Opportunity focusing on giving young people the chance to try multiple new and exciting activities from rowing to boxing and more. Friday brings a day of inclusivity, Saturdays Festival in Cardiff will have giveaways, performances and parkour whilst the evening culminates in Ministry of Sound playing host to a series of workouts at their iconic dance venue and an extra special club night.
Schools wanting to increase their pupils physical literacy and promote healthy lifestyles can opt in to a try before you buy standing desk trial here.
The same week the vast majority of teachers have moved against high stake primary school testing such as SAT's via a ballot of members at the UK's largest Education Union another news piece has surfaced indicating that the majority of Head teachers are against mandatory baseline testing of primary school children on entry to primary school.
54,500 primary school teachers voted en-mass against the SATs means of testing as it negatively impacts children’s mental health and puts schools under undue pressure to hit benchmarks the government can hold them accountable to. Nick Gibb, the school standards minister however said that this number doesn’t even represent half the profession and that the tests had been around since 1990 and are designed to improve the standard of teaching in our schools.
Despite Gibbs insistences it seems the general consensus from head teachers is that the government are insisting on mandatory tests in order to measure the schools progress and an initial test to be used as a yardstick from which progress can be measured. However head teachers have argued vehemently that the £10 Million it will take to implement the newly proposed baseline testing for primary school joiners is completely unnecessary and the pitfalls of introducing this system include labelling children who speak English as a second language or those with SEN needs could be "unnecessarily labelled as low-ability"
“We already have an appropriate baseline that does not take staff too much time,” one teacher wrote. ”The baseline is used to identify gaps in learning and development for the staff to support the child, not locked away for seven years.”
Research carried out by staff at University College London’s Institute of Education surveyed 288 head teachers and only 8% of which spoke positively about the suggested testing regime due to become mandatory in 2020.
Some head teachers suggested some schools will “game” the system by underpreparing pupils for the baseline test in order to show greater demonstrable improvements when the government revisits and measures against the initial results.
Jill Robinson of More Than a Score who commissioned the head teacher interviews said;
“Heads agree with education experts and parents: this scheme is a waste of everyone’s time and a waste of £10m,”
“It has no basis in academic theory or even simple logic. It is simply another way for the government to judge schools, using unreliable and unfair testing methods.
“A batch of reception pupils will be used as guinea pigs when they should be settling into school and the government still can’t tell us how they’ll use the data which will be extracted from these four-year-olds.
“It’s time for the DfE to admit failure and halt the roll-out of this pointless and damaging experiment."
Parents tried to oppose the plans via a legal challenge however this was overturned at the high court.
A spokesperson for the DfE said that the baseline checks are simply standardising the way schools carry out their own baseline checks.
“We are confident that the reception baseline assessment will lighten the load for schools, which will no longer have to carry out whole-class assessments at the end of year two, or deal with the test papers and administration that comes with that, while also being stress-free for children.
“We have been listening carefully to feedback we have received throughout the development process to ensure we get the experience right for pupils and schools.”
We are certainly in a time where education staff are at odds with the government as to the best way to measure the success of UK education standards and one way or another change is going to be required to find common ground between both parties’ priorities. A SATS strike occured this year and the majority of voting teachers at the large union meeting had voted in favour of this action so from one year to the next our children could be having vastly different experiences.
The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) and the National Union of Teachers (NUT) staged the boycott which meant that nearly 200,000 children missed the SATs. This inconsistency is without a doubt not in our children’s interest in this writer’s opinion however if it results in the reduction of high stress testing of our young learners then it may well be what they call a necessary evil.
Wherever you lie on this issue we'd love to hear from you in the comments or via out social channels.
The Decathalon Activity Index 2019 has shown that 77% of Parents are more active than their children. The survey asked parents to compare activity levels with their kids and even when including P.E. lessons a huge 77% of parents said they exercised more than their kids.
If the parent’s child is adult then the figure shot up to 93% showing a huge disparity in (self-perceived) exercise levels between generations. Our children have a 5 years shorter expected lifespan due to the sedentary crisis and given that only 11% of family’s say they exercise together this shows that not enough is being done at home to combat the problem.
Schools who integrate standing desks into their classrooms are doing their bit by stimulating movement and physical literacy but a truly combined effort is the only solution when we look to make a culture shift back towards healthy active lifestyles for our children. Failure to do this sufficiently well, experts say will bring incredible strain to the NHS when sedentary kids become unhealthy, unfit adults with burgeoning health issues associated with obesity such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
"We are increasingly disturbed by how often the statistics are showing us that children are just not active enough and the alarm bells haven’t set off across the country yet. Sadly this is the kind of problem that doesn’t make the headlines until the health issues it creates culminates in our NHS coming to a standstill."
- Nick White, Managing Director iwantastandingdesk.com
Parents and schools who want to combat childhood inactivity can invest in student standing desks like the Eiger Student Standing Desk. Schools can request a try before you buy trial for this here.
In July the government published the School Sport and Activity Action Plan where the government outlines their intent to make it so kids have the ability to partake in the recommended 60 mins of physical activity every day. The plan is due to updated later in the year.
This image shows how 80's kids were more active than today's youth.
Currently only 17.5% of children meet the required activity levels and this is going to need to dramatically improve if the government’s plan to halve childhood obesity by 2030 by supporting schools and parents enabling kids to lead healthier more active lives is to be realised.
Further reading: Schools May Be Kept Open for Sports in Holidays
The Government’s Sport and Activity Action Plan
A recent study featured in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health has linked sitting for extended periods of time to approximately one in ten deaths each year in the UK.
Speaking of modern day workplaces the lead author said they “represented a significant proportion of unavoidable daily sitting time for many people”.
A recent article on the REBA website explains how in 2016/17 1.3 million people suffered from work related ill-health which according to government guidance translates into 25.7 million working days lost affecting business on the whole to the tune of £32 Billion a year.
Research shows happier, healthier people are more productive. This counts for students in education who when standing engage 16% more and office workers who when happy are more productive by a whopping 31%. Research by Talent Works International shows 10 times fewer sick days are taken by happy employees.
Healthy work-spaces and mental and physical health being seen as a top priority helps businesses attract and retain employees and shows that education spaces prioritise physical and mental well-being of their students which can attract new starters as more and more parents are keen to ensure their children are staying healthy in the classroom environment. Some parents even going as far as to urge schools to go entirely standing.
Sedentary behaviour is responsible for a multitude of illnesses and has caused our children’s estimated lifespans to be 5 years shorter. There is a proven relationship between inactivity and cancers, heart disease, stroke and diabetes. The NHS is expected to buckle under increasingly accelerating stress if measures aren’t put in place by the government to tackle obesity and sedentary culture in the UK population. Efforts such as the governments proposed School Sport and Activity Action Plan aim to improve physical health culture in young people by keeping schools open for summer holiday sports sessions and more.
The government's cycle to work scheme is estimated to have saved the NHS over £5 billion as a result of participants being healthier and less likely to require treatments. Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, chair of UKActive is calling for a nationwide cultural shift encouraged and supported by the government and to be embraced by all businesses in order to affect the nation’s health and our businesses bottom lines.
Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson
If you are interested in workplace well-being programs you can visit UKActive to find out more. Schools wanting to introduce standing desks to their learning spaces can sign up to a try before you buy trial here.
Source: Tanni Grey-Thompson on the need to combine efforts to tackle sedentary workplace cultures.
In other News I want A Standing Desk has been featured by Feedspots Top 50 Education Blogs here. So thank you for the shout out Feedspot and thanks to our readers for your support.
BBC Panorama has reported that an Academy head ordered her staff to cheat on Sat’s tests.
Suzanne Barham spoke to TV documentary Panorama and details how she was instructed to provide the answers to pupils that were struggling in the 11 year old test environment.
"We were told to go and work with specific children and to give them a little help.
"That's what happened, those children were given answers.
"You know it's not what should happen. You know it's the wrong thing, it's not going to help the children."
Citing a fear that she would lose her job if she didn't do as instructed Barham told Panorama she also was ordered to change test scores at three schools in 2017.
The Academy is effectively being dissolved and enveloped by another trust. Silver Birch says the current trustees cannot be held responsible for its earlier actions.
The trusts chief Exec Patricia Davies allegedly also ordered Barham to help children cheat in a reading exam.
"Mrs Davies called me into her office, and it's a reading paper, so you can't read it to them, and she said, 'I want you to read it for them'.
"I said, 'but it's a reading test.' She went, 'yes, I know'.
"You did what Pat told you to do, otherwise, you knew you wouldn't have a job, and so I read that paper."
Parents understandably were not happy to hear about the cheating. One Mother was stood at the gates when children came bounding out delighted they had been allowed to cheat
"The boys were quite vocal, as they thought it was funny, they thought it was hilarious: 'We cheated, we cheated, they let us cheat'.
"They were skipping up the hill screaming it out."
Startlingly the Standards and Testing Agency have investigated the allegations of cheating and let the results stand. The BBC have written about one girl who witnessed a teacher walk up to her desk during an exam and point at an answer saying "That’s the answer" the girl said “I was so annoyed. I just looked at her like, 'what are you doing, this is a test'."
Barham explained that the trust gave her sheets of paper with the actual results on and specific results scrubbed out with a request to change them in order to falsify and inflate how well the school was doing.
She resigned when the academy was taken over by another trust.
The academy is closing due to financial issues.
Labour and the Lib Dems have pledged to abolish Sat’s testing in favour of teaching “not to the test.”
A ballot of 54,000 primary school members of the NEU showed that 97 percent backed the campaign to scrap the tests which have been heralded as damaging to children’s mental health due to the high pressure environment and anxiety inducing process.
The criticisms of Sat’s testing often come from the fact that they exist as a means for schools to be measured against one another as opposed to having the welfare and education of the pupils at the forefront.
“Test-driven primary assessment is damaging children’s mental health and wellbeing; it intensifies the stress on teachers. Preparing children for Sat’s squeezes out other parts of the curriculum.”
- Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the NEU
The BBC have produced a short video documenting their interviews with three primary school head teachers who say they feel completely unsupported by the government when it comes to offering mental health support to their pupils.
The BBC say there has been a 50% increase in referrals to mental health services for pupils aged 11 and under in the last 3 years.
"I think the government needs to decide whether they want us to be social workers and mental health workers or educators."
- Sue Blair, Pennine Way Primary School
Staff members at Pennine Way School were said to have cried together over the things they have been told by their pupils with mental health needs. They have seen children who self-harm on the premises by banging their heads against walls.
Freedom of information requests have shown that there have been 191 self-harm incidents within school walls since 2015.
"I find it really abhorrent, there's nothing that we can realistically do, that is going to give the child the help that that child needs."
Clem Coady, Head teacher, Stoneraise School
One in 10 primary school children aged five to 10 has an identifiable mental health condition. In serious cases schools are told to escalate the issues and refer to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) One head teacher explained how they are still waiting for feedback on a child who has serious mental health concerns two full years since the referral.
According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists "Services for children have been historically underfunded." One head teacher cites the UK being the 5th most powerful economy in the world and asks why we still under nourish the support for mental health in young people despite those challenges being well on the rise alongside the over-use of handheld devices and reliance on screen time being directly linked with a greater likelihood of children developing depression . (See the research here)
The head teachers are crying out for help and support whilst the government company line says they are "determined to improve mental health support for kids." Stating that 345,000 more children and young people with have access to specialist mental health care by 20232/24.
Meanwhile it's clearly evident that schools are ill equipped to handle the increasing rise in mental health issues emerging in modern society and unless the government does follow through on these promises the issues are only going to become a greater tax on our economy as under supported children become problematic adults with un-tackled issues and mental health problems which have been long standing since primary school.
CAMHS refuses to accept that a child can be considered depressed before they are 7 years old and this in itself means they deflect requests for support when a school flags a pre-7 with said issues. This lack of qualification and rebuttal just isn’t working and it remains to be seen how schools will be affected as if the issues continue to rise at the same speed as the last 3 years.
Standing desks and flexible seating options in the classroom are reported to help children alleviate anxiety, tension and have a tendency to generally improve student mental health.
If you want to try before you buy and trial Eiger Student Standing Desks in your School you can fill in the form on this page and we'll get the ball rolling.
Watch the piece by the BBC you'll no doubt find yourself in agreement that it's time to tackle the white elephant in the classroom.
The Department of Education has launched a competition to develop early years "edtech" apps which will be designed to develop literacy, language and communication skills to kids.
The winning apps will be offered to families for free in 12 underprivileged areas of the UK as part of a DfE pilot scheme.
"We want to help parents make confident, informed choices about the resources they use." – Kemi Badenoch, education minister
The DfE said it wants parents to “think about how to use screen time constructively and provide meaningful learning activities for their young children”.
The apps content will need to meet educational standards and offer progression through levelling up in difficulty. They will also be designed to stimulate personal interaction.
Kemi Badenoch said "we want to help parents make confident, informed choices about the resources they use, so they can help inspire a love of learning in their children.”
One in four children leave reception without key communication skills and the winning apps should be designed to combat this.
The areas selected for the pilot were chosen based on the proportion of children achieving below the national level for literacy, and include Brent, Enfield, Halton, Leicester, Luton, Middlesbrough, Oldham, Peterborough, Plymouth, Sandwell, Stoke-On-Trent and Tower Hamlets.
With iPads becoming commonplace in the school and household, and screen time sessions at all time high this writer believes that being conscious of the content our children are engaging with can only be a good thing and would hope to see the winning apps offered universally for free instead of specific households or regions in order to benefit as many children as possible.
I know how difficult it is to find an app for free that doesn’t contain masses of adware or tricks to try and get the user to buy or subscribe to a service so I’ll be hoping to see this pilot be deemed a success and hopefully winning entries getting some real estate on the app store.
5 hours ago TES reported that Number 10 has lined up boxer and team England squad member Elena Narozanski as Head of Education at the Downing Street policy unit.
Narozanski is a former adviser to Michael Gove. She was a Children and Schools adviser whilst the conservatives were in opposition. Following the 2010 election she was appointed special adviser to the new education secretary before becoming Gove’s chief speechwriter in June 2011
She also worked as a policy adviser to Theresa May, was head of the New Schools for London Programme and worked on the vote leave referendum campaign. She has neither confirmed nor denied the news of her appointment.
Downing Street refused to comment on appointments.
The Telegraph have released an article this week showing 25 ways parents can get kids more active to stave off the summer holiday slum. That dreadful reduction in mobility that has been recently reported on by UKActive and Sport England.
Just surf through our previous blogs this month to see the stats on how little kids move during their summer holidays and it'll come as no surprise that they put on the pounds whilst staring at screens for 4 to 5 hours a day.
The Government’s new School Sport and Activity Action Plan is now pushing a term we've been writing about all quarter. Physical Literacy. According to the plan this encompasses enjoyment, motivation, competence, understanding and knowledge. Ensuring children can demonstrate all aspects of this means reportedly they will become happier, more resilient and more trusting of other kids. They also improve academically.
Sport England says making sport fun is key to getting kids motivated to get active. I know my own son jumped at the chance to attend mixed martial arts when I put it to him that he had been invited to attend "Ninja School".
So what are some of the suggested activities the Telegraph say you could inspire your kids with?
Well amongst the typical suggestions of outdoor sports and challenges they brought to light the LIdl Mudder challenge from the folk behind Tough Mudder. A yearly event for 5 to 12 year olds around the country to run an assault course designed just for kids. Race for Life is also hosting Pretty Muddy Kids, a 5k obstacle challenge on Aug 31 in Morden Park, London, and Sept 7 in Nottingham and Milton Keynes
Other unique suggestions for exercise include the world’s largest indoor inflatable assault course aptly named the "Monster"
Folu Ososanya founder of children’s football coaching academy says exposing kids to professional sport early on lets feel more connected to it. So you could think about taking them to the game. I think giving them a team to support can have an amazing affect on their buy in to any sport. I'm sure many fully gown adults still support Man United because their favourite childhood colour was red.
Another fitting suggestion to motivate the screen obsessed children in your household is to get the tech they love so much involved in the journey. This year’s Pokemon Go is Harry Potter: Wizards Unite which has kids exploring their locality casting spells and collecting artefacts. Apps such as Yoga for kids and Just Dance are also great motivators.
Amidst many other suggestions (Check them out here yourself) The article explains that bribery and blackmail are still a sure fire tactic to get your kids moving. There are also dance classes that teach the moves from the most popular game of the moment "Fortnite." I know a few kids who would fall over themselves to do anything Fortnite related so this could be gem for other parents with like-minded gamer children.
Theme park walks can find your kids clocking up the miles with a smile on their face so the lesson here is how we position the activity. Kids are interested in games and using their imaginations. Traipsing through harsh woodland is a lot more fun for my sons when we are hunting witches or taking their trusty teddies on a picnic at the top of a long hill walk.
Whatever your methods take some inspiration from anywhere and everywhere and get your kids used to moving and respecting their bodies. Studies have shown that children who are active turn into active healthier adults.
Standing desks are a great way to get kids moving whilst they are distracted performing an activity which motivates them such as colouring, drawing or magazine puzzles. Schools interested in undertaking a try before you buy Eiger Student Standing desk trial can apply through the short form here.
Recent studies have show that spending time on mobile phones for 5 hours a day means you are more likely to become obese and develop heart disease. So for your own sake and your kids try and put down the devices and get outside with your little ones this half term. Lets make the teaching of physical literacy start at home and hopefully see it continued back at school.
Healthy Schools News Roundup
Poorest children three times more likely to miss out on extra-curricular activities.
Eleanor Busby from the independent has written about a new study this week which indicates children are three times less likely to do extra-curricular activity if they are from an impoverished family. This includes out of school sport amongst other activities such as music.
The study by the Social Mobility Commission is calling on the government to introduce a bursary scheme to change these rather disturbing figures. Now given the new PM's stance on education and 'not leaving anyone behind' being a big part of his patois in the run up to his taking the role it seems this kind of action might actually happen under the newly introduced New School Sport and Activity Action Plan being touted by the government as a fix for the shocking rise in childhood obesity.
Dame Martina Milburn, chair of the Social Mobility Commission, said: “It is shocking that so many people from poorer backgrounds never get the chance to join a football team, learn to dance or play music"
Former Education Secretary Damian Hinds added: “The more opportunities we make available to young people, the more chance they have of becoming well-rounded adults who can take on life’s challenges with confidence.”
Number of overweight children rises by a fifth because of lazy summer holidays spent staring at screens
Meanwhile this week the Telegraph have reported the number of overweight children has risen by a fifth because children becoming inactive during the summer holidays. Estimates indicate kids are staring at screens for up to 4 hours a day instead of getting outside and being active.
We also wrote about this last week here where we talk about the government’s plans to keep schools open during the holidays due to be implemented in the governments new plans.
Arrival of the long overdue healthy schools ratings scheme
Following criticism from numerous sources including non-other than celebrity chef Jamie Oliver details of the healthy schools rating scheme has finally seen some light two years later than proposed.
Quite importantly this has not been made mandatory a fact not missed by Jamie who very believes it should be. Schools are being encouraged to fill out a survey to acquire a rating and a report based on their answers with the highest scorers getting a gold silver and bronze award.
The 2016 child obesity plan first proposed the measure which should have up and running by Sept 2017. The major issues here are that its as pretty underwhelming initiative compared to the initial proposals. When originally developed as a strategy it was proposed that parents would be involved in the production the rating scheme for each individual school however now the only mention of a parent is that schools may wish to advise parents of what score they get after getting involved. Furthermore as it isn't mandatory only the schools who already have dedicated themselves to becoming healthier are likely to voluntarily put themselves into the scheme. Until all schools have to it would be likely that schools will mostly just end up with high scores as they wont be entering the scheme if they expect anything less. Sadly it seems this is now a nice idea poorly executed that won't be making the waves it was conceived to do.
Ofsted Chief Inspector says pupil’s wellbeing at risk as sports are being squeezed out the curriculum.
Ofsted’s chief inspector spoke to the Observer this week and said it is essential that schools leaders include sport and exercise in a balanced education and that Ofsted would begin recognising schools that offer sport and exercise (in and out of school) in a new regime they intend to introduce in September.
“Schools that offer children a broad, balanced education, including plenty of opportunities to get active during the school day and through extracurricular activities, will be rewarded under our new inspection regime.”
The Youth Sport Trust, A Director of the FA, and many other sport leaders have sent an open letter to Boris Johnson indicating that P.E. hours have received a huge cut since 2017 and that they want the next PM to demonstrate that the government is making the health and wellbeing of children in the country a priority amidst a decline in general mental and physical health culminating in the loss of 5 years estimated life spans for our children.
“physical education has been cut by more than almost any other subject, with over 51,000 hours of curriculum PE lost between 2010 and 2017”
You'll have to excuse the format but its been a hot week for health and education news with much to digest across the media but it does feel like an important week. One where with the new PM in place and lots of public mention of the need for sport and physical literacy for children in this country that perhaps the public perception on how important movement and activity is could be made to genuinely shift.
Let’s hope we all take heed and get more active with our kids and encourage our schools to do the same. The new plan pushed by the government has pledged £2 million Sport England funding to create 400 new after-school ‘satellite clubs’ to get more young people in disadvantaged areas active, as well as additional funding to better coordinate sport programmes and competitions for young people. So let’s make sure when these appear that we make use of them or they won’t be around for long.
Schools wishing to include more movement in their classrooms can integrate super movers videos into their lesson plans, increase their pupils dedicated activity time and reduce the use of solitude booths for SEN and badly behaved kids in favour of more holistic approaches to discipline.
There is no one fits all answer for schools wanting to get more active but certainly opting in to the Healthy Schools rating scheme seems like a great starting point. Many schools have seen benefit by introducing flexible seating options such as Eiger student standing desks. A trial for any school wishing to try before you buy is available here.
Guidance on the healthy schools rating scheme is available here.
Have a great week and remember when you'rew out and about getting active, please wear sunscreen.
This week UK media have been reporting on the increasingly visible issue of childhood obesity. Leading figures in sport state “Today’s children are the least active generation ever,” and say that school sport facilities should be kept open all summer, to allow people to access them for sports clubs and activities so they stay active during the summer holidays.
The proposals are designed to re-establish the holidays as a time to get active instead of peak dormancy time when UK kids aren’t getting any exercise.
News reports such as this [and this] shine a light on recent lobbying from fitness leaders to encourage our government to implement real and measurable changes in order to provide more opportunity for sport for our young people.
Nearly 40 percent of all sports facilities sit behind closed gates in schools for the extensive summer holiday period. During this time children become even more inactive and undo about 80% of fitness gains they develop during term time. According to a recent Sport England Survey cited to the government now only 17.5% of children meet the daily recommended exercise quota of 1hr a day and one in five UK school kids are overweight by the time they commence primary school.
The fitness leader group called upon the government to keep the facilities open and have laid out a plan that would need very little funding to implement. (Presumably staffing and maintenance costs only?) as the equipment and playing fields are all there ready to use. The coalition said that for just £7 per child a day 1.2 million school children could benefit.
Healthy active children are statistically more likely to grow up into active healthier adults so the proposals would reduce some of the prophesised future burden on the NHS from the next generation of screen addicted inactive kids and save lives by reducing obesity related disease and mortality rates.
The group’s leader Baroness Grey-Thompson said “It is time for the Government to show its commitment to the next generation by unlocking the school sports facilities lying unused on the doorstep of every neighbourhood.
“We urge the next Prime Minister and Chancellor to support schools to have a powerful impact on the health and wellbeing of children, young people and their families by opening over the summer holidays and engaging families in local, affordable and healthy activity opportunities.
“This is an unmissable opportunity to reshape the summer holiday period, and realise the ambitions of many existing policies aiming to improve child health by encouraging physical activity, tackle childhood obesity and reduce loneliness through improved social cohesion.”
Recent surveys have shown that 30 percent of kids are doing less than 30 mins exercise a day meanwhile ministers have announced a long awaited and seemingly limited action plan to get children doing an hour of exercise a day. The plan does suggest that the government are going to be pressing schools and sports groups to work together to share facilities and keep sport available during evening’s, weekends and holidays.
So are the government going to do what is being asked of them? The language is (as usual) deeply ambiguous. The government has laid plans and come up with a name for the plans but it is doubtful we will see the plans fully realised whilst the money being committed to implement change is considerably minimal.
The proposed “School Sport and Activity Action Plan” met a lukewarm response from the sports sector and came under criticism for being a rehash of the School Sports Partnership which was introduced under the previous Labour government but scrapped by the coalition in 2010.
Criticism has also fallen on ministers for not capitalising on the London 2012 Olympics as it was promised to be a bounding board for a mass uptake in sports culture in order to make us more competitive in future generations whilst reaping the massive societal benefit to being healthier as a nation whilst taking the pressure off the NHS due to reducing illness born from sedentary lifestyles.
Sport leaders including the Youth Sport Trust and The Football Association released said in a joint statement that the Governments School Sport and Activity Action Plan "sets out some encouraging intentions and acknowledges the absolute priority of getting every young person enjoying 60 active minutes every day.
“It is also important that further policy change is brought forward. The success of the plan will ultimately hinge on how it is resourced.”
At a time when schools are considerably underfunded already the government has been asked to make some real changes by pledging to implement to sports coalitions suggestions and they have responded with a named action plan but it remains to be seen if this translates into a commitment of money to make something happen when school budgets are at an all time low. Watch this space.
Boris Johnson has stated in a sky news interview that he plans to reverse education spending cuts and he believes that providing a great education is the job of the state. He talks about readdressing the balance across the country and giving more rural communities with less funding the same opportunities and resources as more well funded communities. He also mentions he interprets the Brexit vote as an indicator that this is the peoples will.
Sky’s Sophy Ridge seems to question Johnsons promises that that he would invest more money into schools, more money into transport, investment in full fibre broadband for every UK household and put 20,000 more police on the street as a pipe dream given the likelihood that additional spend would in fact increase taxes however Boris claims there is money available and that certain tax cuts would in fact generate income.
"It is no good thinking that someone else will pay. That someone else is you. There is no such thing as Government money. There is only taxpayers' money." - Margaret Thatcher
This could well be politicians being politicians and making numerous promises during the election battle but as funding for schools is at an all-time low the fact that the conversation shines a light on the education sector is at least itself promising.
The current state of play with regards to school funding has many school incapable of offering SEN pupil’s places and are turning them away as a result. It means a lack of funding for teacher training resulting in an increase in expulsions and the ever prevalent overcrowding of classrooms.
This year classes now have on average one extra pupil per teacher in them compared to last year. Whilst this may not seem like an extravagant increase if the lack of funding schools are suffering from currently continues these figures can only worsen.
The 4% funding cuts to spending per child budgets have meant that many schools are opting to expel their most vulnerable cases as they lack the intrinsic resources and training to react to poor behaviour from vulnerable young people with a more holistic and proactive approach.
Pictured abaove, a new social enterprise called 'The Difference' has been set up to offer a sort of education special forces. Their aim is to raise the status and expertise of those working with vulnerable learners: in Alternative Provision, and in mainstream.
41 children are excluded in the UK every day whilst 85% of children in the criminal justice system were once expelled. These figures shine a startling light on a problem people just aren’t talking about enough. School funding cuts has our education centres letting down our most vulnerable learners.
If elected Johnson said he plans to roll back education cuts implemented by George Osborne in 2015. The Conservative leadership frontrunner said he would give England's schools budget a £4.6bn boost per year by 2022/23 if he enters Number 10.
The former Foreign Secretary said: "The 2016 referendum result was a clear cry from many people that they have been left behind. As Conservative councillors and members all over the country know, for too many years, schools in rural regions have received much less funding than schools in other parts of the country."
Labour spoke out against the claims. Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner said "Even today’s supposed pledge doesn’t come close to reversing all the cuts that the Tories have imposed on education, let alone match Labour’s plans to invest in a national education service."
The Guardian has also written a scathing retort to the claims saying that old Etonian Johnson has on numerous times spoken out in favour of grammar schools and wouldn’t have dreamt of sending his own children to state schools. The full write up in included below in our sources.
The Metro in April wrote about how Eton college is to receive an 80% tax reduction due to its status as a charity being a tax avoidance loophole whilst soe state schools are now so underfunded that they are asking parents to pay for pens, pencils and toilet paper.
Unfortunately politicians say lots of promises and this ine is clearly not without its critics but at least the conversation is finally on topic. Education needs a large financial boost to catch up with the growing class sizes and the increased need for training to keep up with our ever expanding cultural differences and children’s mental health needs.
Johnson plans to reverse education cuts: https://news.sky.com/video/boris-johnson-wants-to-spend-on-education-11751391
The Guardian -
Ending exclusion: specialist teachers trained to support most vulnerable
The Difference https://www.the-difference.com/what-we-do
Eton College gets 80% tax break while state schools are ‘at breaking point’
A Cambridge University Study of 15,000 40 to 79 years olds found that people who increase their activity levels later in life half the risk of an early death.
The government recommended activity levels are to carry out 30 minutes of exercise for 5 days a week (or twenty mins each day) and following this can reduce the risk of death by almost a quarter compared to inactive people. However particularly active people who undertake 42 minutes of exercise a day cut the risk of early death by a whopping 42%.
Activity measured included walking, cycling and oddly enough, office work which is great news for you standing desk heroes out there.
Very importantly the study found that people who hadn’t done any previous activity could also reap "substantial" benefits meaning it’s never too late to start increasing your movement irrespective of your previous relationship with exercise. (Mine is turbulent to say the least)
The research was held between 1993 and 1997 and participants followed until 2016. The timeframe has allowed researchers to extrapolate that activity levels over time and higher activity levels are both linked to living a longer life.
Participants who were inactive at the start of the study but worked up toward accomplishing the daily recommended exercise figures of 20 mins a day were able to cut their mortality rates by a quarter and the group who were highly active (60 mins activity a day) halved their mortality rates.
"These results are encouraging, not least for middle-aged and older adults with existing cardiovascular disease and cancer, who can still gain substantial longevity benefits by becoming more active, lending further support to the broad public health benefits of physical activity," researchers said.
"In addition to shifting the population towards meeting the minimum physical activity recommendations, public health efforts should also focus on the maintenance of physical activity levels, specifically preventing declines over mid to late life."
Hew Edwards from UKActive explained how this new evidence should be used to push back against the notion that older people should do less and said "Only by reimagining ageing, can our society reduce the growing burden on our NHS and social care systems.”
Louise Ansari, from the Centre for Ageing Better said "It’s not just about aerobic exercise like running or cycling. All adults should also do activities that boost their strength and balance twice a week."
Standing desks encourage movement and help active people stay active. Whilst they are not a miracle cure they do encourage movement and fit excellently into a healthy lifestyle as part of the solution to today's sedentary culture.
Increasing your exercise levels reduces the risk of diabetes, obesity, cardiac disease, cancer and depression. At an age where chance of dementia or Alzheimer’s increase older people who exercise have brains which are ten years younger so naturally staying active has mental health benefits too. So buff off those running shoes and get yourselves moving for the benefit of your body and your minds.
Today’s child is scarily inactive. They have increased cases of depression, obesity and diabetes. They over indulge on screen time due to the widespread availability of tablets, televisions and iPhones and they are likely to live 5 years less than we are. Children don't go out to play as much as previous generations. They have been dubbed "generation inactive."
Despite the mountainous evidence to suggest that physical literacy amongst children is at a crisis point a new study has found that parents just don't understand the importance of active lifestyles and physical literacy for children.
This week is national school sport week which is now in its eleventh year and is designed to encourage schools, teachers, parents and young people to shine a light on the importance of sport for our physical and mental health. The Youth Sport Trust who run the week long event commissioned the 2000+ person study which indicated that only a quarter of parents know that children should be active for at least thirty minutes each day according to the chief medical officers recommendations.
Other research found that only seven percent of girls and 11 percent of boys at secondary age are undertaking more than 60 mins of activity per day. There is also a disparity between children from different economic backgrounds with 39% of children from the poorest family’s doing less than 30 mins exercise a day compared to 26% from richer families.
“We’ve seen a worrying trend in recent years of a decline in young people’s physical activity, and a squeeze on time allocated to good quality PE,” said Ali Oliver, the YST’s chief executive. “With our new research showing that most people do not know how much physical activity children should be aiming for, it has never been more important to raise awareness of why this is so important.
“Our work with schools across the country all year round shows the power of sport and play to improve young people’s confidence, tackle stress and equip them with the skills to succeed in life.”
Only 17.5 per cent of children and young people were currently meeting the government target, according to Sport England’s most recent Active Lives Survey.
Damian Hinds in December last year called upon leading institutions in sport such as the Premier League, Rugby Football Union and England Hockey to advise the government on how they could fulfil his ambition of making competitive sport accessible to all children. The governments sport action plan focuses on health, well being and character.
"Sport has the power to boost physical and mental well being, while teaching important life skills. We are committed to building on the fantastic range of programmes already provided by the governing bodies here today to reach even more young people."
Sports Minister Mims Davies
Damian Hinds Said at the December summit
"Education is not just about the taking and passing of exams, important though these are. We want all young people to leave formal education as happy, confident and well-rounded individuals. It is clear that exercise and organised sport in particular can play a huge part in children’s personal resilience and emotional wellbeing."
Many schools are using their sports premium funding to integrate physical movement into their learning spaces with standing desks in their classrooms. If you would like to undertake a trial on a try before you buy basis then head over here and fill in the short form.
There has been some debate this week amongst parents of Leamington Spa school Telford Junior, since the school has introduced a new style of sporty school uniform designed around a tracksuit.
In place of the usual smart attire the head teacher has implemented a uniform of sportswear with trainers raising concerns amongst parents of the increased cost to purchase.
The head teacher explained the uniform which many pupils have started wearing would serve a more "active" curriculum featuring the daily mile and active lessons such as the super movers’ classes.
In wales in 2022 the new curriculum due to be implemented is said to include well-being at the core of many subjects. Should England’s curriculum borrow from the same songbook this may be first of many schools opting to introduce a sporty alternative to the school uniform in the future.
We frequently work with active schools and understand that any actions schools can take to change the mentality of their students towards the idea of increased movement and fitness can only yield positive results.
Higher activity levels in students who embrace physical literacy and use standing desks in the classroom have improved academic results, increased engagement and experience overall improvements in physical and mental health and well-being. You only need to glance through this blog to get a sense of the myriad of statistics supporting active classrooms.
Despite initial objections from about 40% of the parents the new uniforms have come into use and some parents said the new uniform is "smart" and the “children liked it” however one parent said "I could understand the children going to school in games kits on days they had sports but to be wearing it every day I think will put the children in a different mind-set towards school,"
Will this school see an increase in physical activity adoption amongst the tracksuit wearing school kids? Does the sense of school pride increase or diminish when the uniform becomes casual?
One piece in the New Yorker discusses how liberating school uniform can be and how some schools experience notable difference following the introduction of uniforms, reporting fluctuations in the regularity of violence. It’s certainly true amongst sociology experiments that our behaviour can become altered based on the uniforms we adopt.
In this example students wearing police uniforms exhibited biased attention towards individuals wearing hoodies. The Leamington Spa school did debate using hoodies but this idea was apparently quickly thrown out.
Parents received the following letter when initially consulted which leads with the idea of active wear for an active curriculum.
Will this school see a difference in how its smart uniform wearing children behave towards the sports kit kids? This writer believes there is a danger of creating a culture divide amongst young children when a new uniform isn’t adopted by every child as is the case with the Leamington School.
Simply dressing some as smart and some as sporty may well have an impact in the student’s sense of identity. I certainly believe that we are starting to tread into dangerous territory when we give children yet another reason to treat one another as different.
It’s certainly an interesting move and one that I believe reflects the shifting consciousness towards embracing well-being as imperative for the next generation to grow up happy and healthy.
Will other schools follow suit? Well assuming a riot doesn’t break out between the tie wearers and the tracksuit gang this writer believes we may see this type of cultural shift popping up more and more over the coming years in line with the education sector starting to prioritise the notion that they are responsible for children for huge portions of the day so these are the hours that kids must be encouraged to be active and understand their own health.
Hopefully this new idea proves successful and the potential for backlash is managed successfully as its possible the improved mentality from wearing a sporty outfit should have a positive influence on the school children. If you dress healthy maybe it’s possible you start to eat healthy and move healthy.
In 2012 two researchers tested students in two alternative uniforms and found a notable difference in behaviour coining the term “enclothed cognition”
“It’s all about the symbolic meaning that you associate with a particular item of clothing,” Adam said. And he thinks the study’s results can be applied to many more fields, including activewear and fitness. “I think it would make sense that when you wear athletic clothing, you become more active and more likely to go to the gym and work out.”
You may also want to read:
Psychology of Lululemon: How Fashion Affects Fitness
Soon Welsh Schools Will Decide If They Include P.E.
The Downsides of School Uniforms - The New Yorker
Let us know what you think about the new uniform by commenting below or getting in touch via our socials.