Boosting children’s physical activity in school

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A new online platform featuring inspiring videos and resources for schools will launch today, Wednesday 23 September to mark National Fitness Day, helping pupils stay active and healthy during the school day.

With 99.9% of state-funded schools open to pupils as of 17 September, lessons having resumed and children being reunited with their friends and teachers, the Department for Education’s new online video collection will support young people’s mental and physical health.

From Wednesday 23 September, schools will be able to access videos on YouTube which will provide creative and entertaining content that helps staff to safely offer 30 active minutes in a Covid-secure environment. This includes videos from schools and young leaders across the country sharing best practice on how to incorporate being active into lessons, break-times and travel times, content from Sport England featuring their Daily Activators doing the ‘Daily Mile’, inclusive activities for pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and content to encourage more girls to get involved in physical activity.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said:

Getting pupils back into education full-time and back with their friends and teachers has been a national priority, so it’s fantastic to see millions of pupils back in the classroom – the best place for their education, development and wellbeing.

We know that keeping active is a vital part of every child’s education, as well as being important for their mental and physical health, so it’s encouraging to see so many schools adapting to these new ways of working and sharing their experiences with others. Events like National Fitness Day and the new Great British Week of Sport promote the benefits of sport and physical education, and I hope that our new resources will make it easier than ever to incorporate 30 active minutes into the school day.

The online collection, available on the Department for Education’s YouTube channel, builds on the Government’s commitments set out in the School Sport and Activity Action Plan. These include ensuring that children are active for 60 minutes every day, half of which they should do during school hours. Now more than ever, keeping active and maintaining good physical and mental health is an important part of every young person’s daily routine.

It follows the Education Secretary’s announcement in July that schools in England will benefit from £320 million from the PE and Sport Premium during this academic year underlining the importance of PE and sport in the Government’s manifesto. The PE and Sport Premium is designed to help children get an active start in life, supporting primary schools to improve the quality of their PE and sport provision so that pupils experience the benefits of regular exercise – from becoming healthier both mentally and physically to improved behaviour and better academic achievement.

Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said:

Staying active is vital for young people’s physical and mental health and can also improve behaviour and concentration. I know schools have worked incredibly hard to welcome pupils back and these imaginative new resources will help them keep children fit and healthy in a fun and engaging way, while also keeping them safe.

Jack Shakespeare, Director of Children, Young People and Families, ukactive said:

ukactive is delighted to be working with the Department for Education on National Fitness Day and across the Great British Week of Sport, helping schools to provide safe, fun, inclusive and meaningful opportunities for pupils to be active during the school day.

The message for children and young people to be physically active and supported to get their 60 active minutes each day has never been more important, and we are extremely excited about using National Fitness Day and our 10@10 initiative as a platform for school communities to be active across the day and beyond.

Youth Sport Trust Chief Executive Ali Oliver said:

Young people are returning to schools with low levels of physical fitness and poor mental health while social distancing guidelines are presenting new challenges to the delivery of PE and school sports.

Schools have been working creatively to ensure young people access daily physical activity, weekly Physical Education and after-school sport. However, we know that many are lacking confidence. We are here to help and have been happy to support the development of these new resources which, along with clear guidance, will be essential to ensure children do not miss out.

In the week that a new movement of Well Schools launches with schools across the country pledging to put wellbeing at the heart of school life, the vital role of sport, Physical Education and daily physical activity in supporting young people’s wellbeing has never been more important.

Tim Hollingsworth, CEO, Sport England said:

We have a significant opportunity with schools now back to help get our children and young people active again, and there is clear evidence that it can help their attainment at school and contribute to their health and happiness.

These last few months have taken a big toll on children’s activity levels, so these resources are perfectly timed to support schools in offering new and exciting ways for all young people to be able to enjoy getting active.

Public Health Minister Jo Churchill said:

Giving children and young people the opportunity to exercise during the school day is the perfect way for them to have fun and be active with their friends. Innovative resources are there to help schools find the best ways to achieve this, even with the new Covid19 precautions.

Exercise when combined with a healthy balanced diet is the perfect recipe to stay fit and healthy both physically and mentally and have fun too.

The Government has prioritised the physical and mental health of children throughout the pandemic and this term schools and colleges will also benefit from a new multi-million training programme run by mental health experts, to help improve how they respond to the emotional impact of the coronavirus pandemic on their students and staff. The Wellbeing for Education Return programme is supporting staff working in schools and colleges to respond to the additional pressures some children and young people may be feeling as a direct result of the pandemic, as well as to any emotional response they or their teachers may still be experiencing from bereavement, stress, trauma or anxiety over the past months.

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