Release Date: 16 June 2015
Generation Inactive establishes the state of the challenge ahead and highlights how little grip we currently have on the scale of the problem of childhood inactivity. It explores the current understanding of children's physical activity in Primary Schools and ivestigates the measures that are uses to track the activity and fitness levels of pupils.
This stark finding comes at a time when the government has comitted an additional £150 million per year towards Physical Education and Sport via the PE & Sport Premium, and are continuing to measure the Body Mass Index of children via the national Child Weight Measurement Programme.
There is little doubting the commitment of Government and stakeholders to address the issue of health and wellbeing of children.
10% of primary schools surveyed utilised indirect measurement of children's cardiorespiratory fitness levels. This relates to pre-planned monitoring of cardiorespiratory fitness levels usiing established and validated measures such as the multi stage fitness test or the six minute run.
1% of schools formally measure children's physical literacy of motor proficiency.
91% of primary schools surveyed recorded or tracked the amount of time children spend in PE lessons
54% of respondent reported that they monitor children's motor skills - i.e. recording internally or through an external provider children's throwing ability, catching ability, balance etc
89% of primary schools surveyed were aware of the numbers of children who are attending after school or extracurricular activity clubs.
- A slim child does not automatically mean a fit and healthy child. Government should extend the National Child measurement programme to measure fitness in addition to the current measurement of BMI. We should focus on the health of our hearts, not just the size of our waists. While being informed by academic expertise and rigour, this should be developed in a way that is fun, inspiring and engaging for young people, with young people themselves central to its design as opposed to people speaking on their behalf.
- Without diminishing the importance of school sport and PE, in reflection of the wider inactivity and health agenda, the primary 'PE & Sport Premium' should be rebranded as the primary 'Physical Activity and PE Premium'. This repositioning is needed to address the core issue of inactivity and the notion that there are plenty of fun and efficient ways that children can be active throughout the school day that lie outside of PE lessons and organised sport, and can ensure they get the recommended 60 minutes of daily activity.
- Government should ensure that the competency to deliver an effective physical education curriculum is built in to teacher training alongside Maths, English and Science. Parents should expect teachers to have these basic skills.
- To ensure that children enter primary education with physical activity ingrained as a behavioural norm ukactive Kids recommend that the forthcoming Childcare Bill, which guarantees 30 hours free childcare a week for children aged 3-4, includes a statutory requirement for a dedicated allocation of time for play, physical activity and cultivating physical literacy skills by trained and supported professionals.
- In order to maximise the impact of the whole day approach to activity, Government and local authorities should ensure that walking to school becomes the norm for the majority of children and that projects and programmes which encourage a safe, enjoyable walk to school for are prioritised as part of school's approach to health.
- Headteachers should adopt a whole day approach to physical activity, ingraining it into the entire school day, incorporating a variety of lessons and subjects within the curriculum as well as unstructured and structured activity opportunities throughout a child's time at school not simply view it as a matter for PE classes. A total focus on incorporating activity before, during and after school.
- Leave no child lagging behind; in the same way that you would not leave a child struggling to read in a class full of readers, headteachers are urged to take special measures to provide support to children that are disengaged and in need of extra support, guidance and motivation.
The activity sector
- Children's activity providers should give clear guidance to schools and local authorities on what children's activity initiatives and offers are available in their local areas by providing accessible collateral.
- We challenge school activity providers to increase the evidence base for children's activity and fitness by measuring improvement. Many of the organisations that provide physical activity within schools have access to tangible primary data that could prove ground-breaking for data collection in this area; especially if in collaboration with government and academics. Efforts should be taken to pool this data and increase our understanding of this agenda as a result.
- Children's activity providers working with schools need to ensure that their provision is safe and quality assured. They should operate in a way that builds capacity and expertise within the school itself. Where they are part of OFSTED reviews, the results should be published for schools and stakeholders to see. Their value should be judged solely on the outcomes they deliver.
Watch key interviews on the Generation Inactive report below