Author - Francesca Laughton

5 ways that athletes change children’s lives for the better

For many children, their most important role models are their parents and caregivers. However, children look up to a variety of role models to help shape how they behave.

Having a role model helps children to become the person they want to be and inspires them to make a difference. Choosing wisely means that they will be positively influenced and encouraged to be the best person possible not only through their childhood but also into their adult life.

  1. Athletes are fantastic role models

Athletes are able to show the children the power of hard work, perseverance and resilience in a very unique and influential way. Throughout an athletes career, they experience tremendous highs and heart-breaking lows and sharing these encounters with the children helps them to see that failure is inevitable but having the grit and determination to bounce back is what counts.

  1. Physical activity builds the brain

Physical activity is incredibly important to the development, self-esteem and health of primary school children. Unfortunately, 90% of children across the country aren’t getting enough exercise every week. As well as leading to an increase in childhood obesity, a lack of exercise makes it harder for kids to concentrate and can cause pupils to become less confident.

By inviting an athlete into school, the children will see first-hand just how fun and enjoyable physical activity really is. And teachers will find concentration & behaviour has improved as they return to their classrooms!

  1. Athletes are inspirational even for “non-sporty” children

It’s easy to imagine that athletes will only help to inspire and motivate the children that are already physically active and interested in sport. It’s incredible how the athlete can connect with ALL of the children. By the end of the fitness circuit every child will be smiling and trying their best, whether they are naturally sporty or not. The circuits are all about simply trying your best.

The messages that the athletes give to the children are also brilliant to any subject at school, any activity or any life decision. Here are just 3 athlete mottos:

  • “Be the best version of you” – Darren Harris, Paralympic Blind Footballer
  • “Dream big!” – Kristian Thomas, Olympic Gymnast
  • “Say yes and deliver.” – Peter Bakare, Olympic Volleyball Player
  1. Raise funds for your school

Not only does inviting an athlete into school truly inspire the children, it can also help to raise money to improve physical activity at school and create a lasting legacy. Once the children have been inspired by the athlete, they are often enthused to try new activities. Having some new sports equipment can be a great way to promote different activities at school and maintain the momentum. Sports for Schools have raised over £4.5 million pounds for PE equipment to date, and last year, 70% of schools were left with an anything from £300 to £5,000 to spend!

  1. Create a memory to last a lifetime

It’s amazing how the children will forever remember the day that an athlete came to visit school. Even now when we speak to teachers, they remember the day that Kriss Akabusi or another household athlete name came to their school and inspired them. Many of the messages that the athletes give are similar to those that are taught in schools everyday but the power of an athlete delivering it is exceptionally powerful.

“An experience the children will remember for years to come, very inspiring!

Frederick and his assistant were brilliant with the children. They loved the exercises it was so good seeing them enjoying the physical activity. Even those children who often find this difficult were participating and enjoying it. The assembly was also extremely inspiring for the children as Frederick was very clear and passionate about moving forward and continue to put effort in even when it feels as though the tide is against you. Very impressed!”

If you want to get the kids at your school inspired and find them an incredible role model to look up to, take a look round our site today or get in touch with a member of our team on 01223 792200.

 

6 ways in which Athletes can inspire your school as we exit lockdown

Returning to school is vital for children’s education and for their wellbeing, while the risk to children themselves of becoming severely ill from COVID-19 is very low.

In numbers, 2 deaths from COVID-19 have been recorded across England and Wales out of 10.7 million under 15s, so that’s a chance of 1 in 5.3 million; that means COVID-19 is 7 times less risky for children than the 2017-18 seasonal flu.

In the meantime, there are so many negative health impacts of being out of school. So, for the vast majority of children, the benefits of being back in school far outweigh the very low risk from COVID-19.

Whilst children seem to be largely immune from the virus, they are not immune from the broader impacts on our society and economy. It is even more important now to lift and inspire children to achieve their potential and be the best they can be.

  1. Athletes are fantastic role models

Athletes are able to show the children the power of hard work, perseverance, grit and resilience in a very unique and influential way. Sports for Schools athletes are all of very high calibre: They’ve all represented their country at one of the major games (Olympics/Paralympics, World Champs, European Champs, Commonwealth Games or Invictus Games).

The whole school will take part in a fun fitness circuit led by the athlete and a sportivater (this can easily be done in bubbles with no equipment required).

The athlete will then deliver motivational talks in mini assemblies (or classroom visits if preferred). They don’t just talk about competing; they explain the challenges they have faced, and deliver highly motivating messages about trying your best, working hard, and leading a healthy life.

  1. Events can take place outside

Children LOVE being outside and there are many health benefits from being outside. The risk of transmission is also considerably lower outdoors and lack of space is much less of an issue.

I know what you’re thinking…what about the weather?! But how many times does it actually rain or snow so much that you can’t be outside? Think back to the past 4 weeks of going to work – how often did you actually get wet? I imagine the answer is less than you first thought.

  1. No equipment is necessary

The beauty of the fitness circuit, is that absolutely no equipment is needed which can help considerably with cleaning procedures. The Athlete and sportivater will simply use some tape (that they will bring!) to separate the exercise stations.

  1. Online sponsorship

Since lockdown, we’ve all discovered there’s a digital solution for just about everything these days; running fundraising events is no exception. More digital means less social contact, so encourage the parents to set up an online fundraising page where they can easily share the page with friends and family and learn more about the visiting athlete.

  1. Self-certification

Government guidance will be followed throughout to minimise the risk of transmission of COVID-19. Athletes and sportivaters will also provide self-certification on arrival (along with their DBS and ID as always) and will practice good hygiene with regular hand sanitation to reduce any risk.

  1. Virtual events

If you’re still not sure, then how about an ONLINE event?  The great news is that the whole school can take part (wherever they are, whether in school or at home!). All you need is a mobile device or computer.

The athlete will deliver a fun fitness circuit, give a brief inspirational talk, and host Q&A all ONLINE. The event is carefully moderated, and as always with children, we’ve found the Q&A to be the best!

 

Here’s some recent feedback from a school who hosted a virtual event during lockdown:

“With everything going on at the moment and the anxiety the children are feeling, this was such a great thing for the children to experience, there was a real buzz after the event. 

Overall, I wouldn’t hesitate for a moment to do another event like that again. It was engaging, educational, interesting and for the pupils to have Olympians training them will truly inspire them.” (Pentland Primary School)

If you want to get the kids at your school inspired and motivated to be more active, take a look round our site today or get in touch with a member of our team on 01223 792200.

 

CEO Insights: Part 1 – Education & schools – a system in need of radical change

The covid-19 pandemic has exposed the way in which incrementalism and focus on exam results has driven out initiative and leadership from the system. We all know that it’s only when things get tough & when there are surprises that anyone or anything is really tested, and weaknesses identified.

All systems are good and bad
The human instinct, when thinking about planning for the future is to look back to last year, and then extrapolate a plan. This is the essence of incrementalism. Though it has a place, it’s inherently a system that sets in stone some essential elements of itself, which is a recipe for eventual self-destruction. It’s now brought us to an ever-increasing tightening of the Ofsted noose around schools, not because Ofsted are not doing their job (they are implementing the law), but because each little step has seemed sensible at the time. Max Weber, the first sociologist to study bureaucracy, saw it both positively as an efficient means of organising society, but also as a force that destroys individual freedom (both behaviour and thought).

By squeezing out individual thought, diversity and innovation are stifled. Free thinking ideas never see the light of day, as the pressure to standardise reduces the very diversity on which progress is based. The system no longer has the capacity to adapt to technology & societal changes. Failure is no longer tolerated, and we end up with one monstrous top down system disconnected from the reality experienced by those very people the system is expected to serve.

Share paintbrushes but not pencils
This is the process that has led us to a situation in which central government in the form of the Department for Education (DfE) felt the need to produce a 156 page document to explain to schools how they should go about re-opening in September 2020. It is surely not the role of the DfE to tell a head teacher that pencils may not be shared between pupils, but paintbrushes may indeed be shared, in order to reduce the risk of transmission of the coronavirus. This is the moment we need to step back and realise that our system needs change. The bureaucracy is self-destructing, and children are the victims, today and for the rest of their lives.

LEAs had their weaknesses and were clearly in need of change. MATs have been suggested as a solution, but once again this is an example of tinkering – moving the administration around does not change the actual product or service that is delivered (whether by a school, a company or an individual). The bureaucratic noose is the idea that a single national curriculum policed by a single body is a good idea. It’s not. We know that monopolies are bad, we know that the great 20th century experiment with communism failed. So too any single approach is bound to fail eventually. People change, the needs change, society changes, technology advances, but the bureaucracy just keeps on squeezing and tinkering incrementally.

Our system has driven out independent leadership by making schools subservient to central government diktat, which has focused on metrics that measure a narrow range of exam skills. Those metrics serve the politicians, but not the people for whom they are designed. So we now have learning objectives, rather than education. Schools are driven to a dependency culture, and headteachers are no longer measured by their ability to educate children, but by ensuring that the system is satisfied with exam results (and the implementation of audit trails that confirm adherence to risk reduction and other safety measures). Failure will not be tolerated!
To be clear, this is not a question of the people in the system – the teachers, the education professionals, those working to prepare our children for life. The education profession is staffed by highly committed people who are invariably motivated and dedicated to doing a great job – but they are constrained by the system. They are stuck in their little paddling boat on a creek when they need to get out onto the high sea to get the freedom they need.

Those who have seen how independent schools switched seamlessly to teaching online as lockdown bolted us indoors will know what independence can do. Within 2 weeks they had learnt how to deliver the full curriculum online and spent the Easter holidays making adaptations from their learnings (note I didn’t say failures). They then delivered a full term of education to their pupils and students. Everything from art, to maths to PE and sports.

PE and Sports during lockdown?
Yes, as we know from Joe Wicks and others, keeping physically active is entirely possible in lockdown. When I asked a teachers and heads about continuing to deliver their curriculum online, the best response I had was, “I’d not thought we could do that, we’ve not had any guidance”, and the worst was, “but some of my students don’t have computers or internet access”.
Those same educators also told me proudly that the school had a large number (I forget exactly the number) of computers in school – presumably not being used. Could these, maybe, just maybe, have been sent home with those children who did not have access to a computer, with a USB SIM card to give them internet access? Central government guidelines were not produced for that particular idea, so those stuck in the system would naturally prefer to avoid taking any unnecessary risks.

So what’s the answer?
In my next blog I’ll examine ideas for how the system could be changed. Ideas are cheap; the work in identifying things that actually work in practice. Questions we might ask are,

• “Why do we need a national curriculum when exams are the test?” Surely it’s the (expert) teacher who is best able figure out the curriculum for their particular pupils and local culture & needs so that pupils are ready for the test.

• “Why do we need GCSEs? When O-levels were invented, 93% of students left school at 16. Now 93% stay on in education. So what’s the point?”

• “How are exam results compatible with creating a “growth mindset”? The very essence of a growth mindset is focus on effort and the process, not the outcome. Yet we measure outcome.

• “What are the alternatives to a Victorian classroom setting that will facilitate and speed up education and learning?”. We know physical activity is essential to building a well balanced brain, yet 80% of children don’t do the minimum to stave off inactivity related diseases.

• “How might we allow real diversity in schools and between schools?”. This means accepting different metrics for success. We know that setting minimum standards has a tendency to reduce overall standards, so what’s the alternative?

The answers are available. Let’s explore them, and redesign the system before it breaks us.

How to…keep busy whilst you’re in lockdown!

We are all in this together and, as we’ve all been told to stay at home, this is an excellent opportunity to learn some new skills to keep busy.

For many of us, uncertainty is lingering. We don’t know how long this will last. Time spent in isolation could lead to mental health problems, which is why it is so important to try your best to keep busy. Many of us have been given an opportunity to rest, so what is the best use of our time?

There are a number of things you could try, but whether it’s occupying just yourself or your loved ones too, here are a few ideas:

  1. Learn a new skill! Whether it be sign language, Makaton, French, German, crafting, or anything you can think of – we have an opportunity to invest our time into something you might have always wanted to do!
  2. Redecorate – have you been putting something off because you didn’t have the time? Painting the bedroom? Moving the furniture around? Cleaning the garage? Well, here’s your chance. Redecorating could give you a sense of achievement – it’s always nice to have a fresh start!
  3. Exercise – don’t let your old fitness DVD gather dust anymore! You have 24 hours in a day, let’s find some time to exercise! There are plenty of workouts you can find online, including Joe Wick’s daily 9am workout on his channel! Remember, you are allowed to go outside for one form of exercise a day, so you could even take up jogging or cycling.
  4. Cook from scratch – no more need for convenience meals. We have the time to create beautiful meals from scratch! Have you ever made your own bread? Your own pizza dough? Your own pasta? (Come to think of it, there is a shortage of pasta so this one might be worth a go…) Let’s get cooking!

Count your blessings. These are tough times for many of us, but remember to be kind to each other and spend time with your loved ones (if they’re in your household, of course!) If you’re fit and healthy you might like to consider volunteering for the NHS in these testing times – but keep safe and stay sane!

5 top tips: Keep your children busy during coronavirus school closures

We’re in the midst of very uncertain times at the moment, with social distancing becoming the utmost of priorities – to the point where school closures are in place (although, not for everyone!).

We’re all in a state of limbo, not knowing how long this will last, or what to do in the meantime. If you’re a parent trying to keep your child busy, or a teacher trying to work out what to do with the time you have with a limited amount of children, why not try some of the following ideas?

  1. Children are used to a routine at school! Why not try and follow this as much as you can? Allow for a morning break time and lunchtime, and try use different slots to allow for children to learn different skills. It might be school work, exercise, chores or free play – children thrive off routine and it can help with a sense of normality.
  • Twinkl are offering one month FREE access to their Ultimate Packages. Enter the code ‘PARENTSTWINKLHELPS’. Try searching ‘KS1 Maths’ or ‘KS2 Science’. Want to organise a whole topic? Try searching ‘Fire of London’, ‘Ancient Greece’ or ‘Olympic Games’! *TOP TIP* Search ‘School Closure Resources Pack’ for some great ideas.
  • Allow children to go outside for breaks and lunch times. Exercise is important too!
  • Want to plan a PE lesson? You could set up your own fitness circuit outside, with a different exercise on each station! Try one minute of jogging on the spot, star jumps, high knees, or hopping!

2.  Social distancing doesn’t mean children can’t go outside. Why not ask children to design their own bug/hedgehog hotel? You could even ask them to search in the garden for Minibeasts! Children can be super inventive, so see what they come up with – whether it’s a drawing, or a shelter made from sticks!

3. Keep your kids active! – Joe Wicks (aka ‘The Body Coach’) has announced that each day (Monday-Friday) he will host a live workout on his Youtube channel called ‘PE with Joe’. Just visit his channel from 9am – it’s a workout specifically designed for kids!

4. Have any unfinished puzzles? It’s the perfect time to crack them out! Puzzles require lots of critical thinking and brain power!

5. Get creative! Try supervised Facetime play dates with friends, painting, colouring, or even gardening! You could try baking healthy treats for your children to have towards their daily snacks! Have you ever tried making homemade Fruit Winders? They’re much lower in sugar, and much tastier!

Remember, we’re all in this together and we can make sure we are doing everything to limit the spread of COVID-19. It can be extremely difficult for young children who don’t understand what is going on, so do your best to keep everything as normal as you can for them – but with extra hand-washing!

Have any of your own ideas? Comment below or tag us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram – we’d love to share them!

Does enjoyment of PE lessons affect exercise as an adult?

It’s a well-known fact that regular exercise helps us to stay fit and healthy. Maintaining a balanced weight, and getting your heart rate up a few times a week, helps to prevent lifestyle-related diseases like type II diabetes, heart disease, stroke and obesity. Cardiovascular exercise also boosts the endorphins in our brains, something that can ease the symptoms of depression and help with mental health issues.

However, even though most of us are aware of the many health benefits of regular exercise, a lot of adults in the UK are still reluctant to get out and get active. According to figures published by The Independent, one in three Brits doesn’t get enough exercise. While in some cases, this could be down to a lack of time, a lack of energy or illness, a lot of these people might be avoiding exercise because of bad childhood memories. Keep reading to find out more.

The impact of PE lessons

All childhood experiences have an impact on the people we become as adults, and PE lessons are no different. According to recent research, a negative experience in school PE lessons can have a lifelong impact, with those who struggled with games at school a lot less likely to be active as adults.

The research showed that people who were regularly picked last in PE are more likely to live sedentary lives when they get older. Those who struggled in team sports and found physical challenges difficult were also a lot less likely to be fit and active as adults.

Many of those who took part in the research reported finding these early experiences of exercise humiliating and difficult. As a result, they began to associate physical activities with negative emotions, something that has prevented or discouraged many from getting involved in sport and activity as adults.

On the other hand, people who responded to the survey saying they had positive experiences of PE at school are a lot more likely to be fit and healthy later in life. People who didn’t feel singled out and who got positive recognition from their teachers associated exercise with fun and enjoyment, something that ensured they were more likely to continue playing sports and visiting the gym as they got older.

In essence, the research showed that if adults associate exercise with negative memories, they won’t expect it to be enjoyable, and so will be less likely to exercise. While adults who believe physical activity is fun will be a lot more inclined to get active.

How to improve PE lessons for today’s children

In order to ensure that the adults of tomorrow aren’t put off exercise by negative experiences in childhood, schools need to improve PE lessons for all participants. For some schools, this may involve a radical rethink of their lesson plans, while all schools should assess the sports they offer to ensure they’re as inclusive, and as fun, as possible.

As one of the main negative memories adults reported was being picked last for team sports, PE teachers should look for alternative ways to make their teams. Giving kids random numbers, or dividing them using other, non-discriminatory means, should help to prevent less able children from feeling left out.

The research showed that positive recognition from a PE teacher went a long way to helping children create a good association with exercise. PE teachers should try to ensure they make positive remarks to all pupils regardless of ability.

Schools, and teachers, also need to work on making their PE lessons as fun as possible. While lessons need to be informative and challenging as well as enjoyable, the research shows that having fun during PE lessons as a child can really help to encourage people to stay fit as they age. This makes the fun factor one of the most important considerations for today’s PE teachers.

Introducing a bit of variety into PE lessons is another good way to get kids excited about exercise. Some children might excel at ball sports while others are better at tactics, speed or stamina. Playing a variety of games will help to ensure children learn a range of skills, and different kids can shine in different areas.

How clubs make sports more enjoyable 

Positive experiences of exercise don’t just have to happen in PE lessons. In fact, taking part regularly in any sport, game or physical activity can help to boost kids’ confidence and set them up for a healthy life.

Adding a variety of active clubs to the after-school timetable can be a great way to boost the number of pupils getting regular exercise. Clubs also allow schools to increase the range of activities they offer, something that may well be crucial to boosting enjoyment and pupil participation.

Schools could consider offering activities like martial arts, netball, rugby and even cheerleading. Ensuring there’s an activity to suit everyone will help to get as many kids as possible taking part and having fun.

Offering a range of after-school activities helps to get kids excited about sport and shows them exercise can be enjoyable. This early positive experience of sport is a great way to set kids up for a healthy life and ensure they stay active and fit as adults.

How to run more school clubs

If you think your school could benefit from boosting the number of clubs it offers, we can help. Our online platform makes club admin quick and easy, and helps to connect schools with experienced, qualified club leaders.

By streamlining the process, Clubbly allows schools to dramatically increase the range of clubs they offer without increasing the workload of teachers and club leaders. This can allow schools to offer their pupils a great range of clubs and ensure that all children are getting out and getting active.

Get in touch with a member of our team, or take a look around our site to find out more.

Is sports premium money having a positive effect?

Physical activity is incredibly important to the development, self-esteem and health of primary school children. Unfortunately, the vast majority of kids across the country aren’t getting enough exercise every week. As well as leading to an increase in childhood obesity, a lack of exercise can make it harder for kids to concentrate in the classroom and can cause pupils to become less confident.

In an effort to increase the amount of exercise children in the UK do every day, the Government created the Sports Premium. A fund of £320 million, the Sports Premium has been designed to help primary schools improve their PE provisions and get their pupils moving. So is this money having a positive effect on the country’s children? We decided to find out.

Why do primary schools need PE money?

According to the experts, kids should exercise for at least 60 minutes every day. This activity helps them to maintain a healthy weight, develop their muscles and boost their confidence and concentration. However, a lot of primary schools struggle to provide their pupils with enough opportunities to get active. While some schools can’t find time during the school day for games, others don’t have the land or the facilities to give their pupils the space they need to run, play and race.

The Sports Premium fund, or PE Money, has been created in order to help schools improve their facilities. It’s hoped that, by investing in equipment, coaching and other sports essentials, primary schools will be able to better provide for their pupils. This should give the country’s kids more opportunities to exercise and introduce them to a variety of new and exciting sports.

How much money is available?

The Sports Premium is a fund of £320 million that’s been created by the Government to help schools improve their sports provision. Although there are a few exceptions, almost all primary schools in the UK are entitled to money from the Sports Premium pot.

Money is allocated to schools depending on how many eligible pupils they have. Schools that have 16 or fewer eligible students receive £1,000 per pupils while those with 17 or more get £16,000 plus £10 per pupil. For most primary schools, this is a significant amount of money and should go a long way to helping them achieve their sporting goals.

How can Sports Premium money be spent?

Schools that receive money from the Sports Premium fund have to use the money to make additional and sustainable improvements to the quality of the physical education they offer. This means that funds should be used to develop, or add to, the PE, physical activity and sport that a school provides and build capacity and capability within the school to ensure that improvements made now will benefit pupils joining the school in years to come.

There are five key indicators that schools should focus on when looking to improve their sports provision. These include providing targeted activities or support to involve and encourage the least active children and encouraging active play during break times and lunchtimes.

Schools should also be establishing, extending or funding attendance of school sport clubs, or broadening the variety offered, and adopting an active mile initiative. As the Government believes every child should leave primary school able to swim, the fund can also be used to raise attainment in primary school swimming to meet the requirements of the national curriculum.

The Sports Premium should allow schools to raise the profile of sport and use sport as a tool for whole-school improvement. By making sport an integral part of the school day, teachers can encourage their pupils to be active throughout the day and embed exercise into the school’s education.

In some cases, the reason schools aren’t providing enough opportunities for sport is a lack of confidence, or understanding, among teachers. The Sports Premium can be used to help educate teachers to give them the expertise they need to lead active sessions and encourage pupils to take part. Understanding just how important physical activity is to education should help to motivate teachers to get involved.

Is the Sports Premium having an effect?

Schools that receive money from the Sports Premium Fund are required to report their results to a central body. This makes it possible to assess the impact of the fund and the effect it’s having on schools across the country.

According to the Primary PE and Sport Premium Survey research report, 35% of schools reported an increase in time spent on PE between 2016/17 and 2017/18, while 64% reported no change. An impressive 33% of respondents said they’d used the fund to introduce new and different types of extracurricular activities, while 54% used the money to support existing afterschool clubs and activities.

The report revealed that schools mostly used the Sports Premium fund to buy new equipment or improve existing facilities. A whopping 92% of schools invested the money in this way, while 88% used the fund to upskill staff and 83% were able to boost extracurricular sport as a result of the funding. A large proportion of schools (75%) said they used the funding to increase physical activity across the curriculum and 71% said the fund allowed them to increase involvement with sport networks and competitions.

Overall, the Sport Premium has allowed a large number of schools to invest in PE when otherwise they wouldn’t have been able to. This has provided thousands of primary school pupils with opportunities to get involved and get active and has gone a long way to promoting exercise, sport and physical activity among the country’s children.

If you think your pupils could benefit from taking part in more sports and getting more active, we can help. Our inspirational team of athletes travels the country visiting schools and encouraging children to get involved. Find out more by exploring our site or getting in touch with a member of our team today on 01223 792200.

7 P.E. lesson ideas for teachers

Over the past few years, kids across the country have slowly become less and less active. According to a recent report from the World Health Organisation, a staggering 85% of UK children don’t get enough exercise. This makes it more important than ever before for schools to encourage their pupils to get out and get active.

This lack of exercise is having a real impact on the nation’s health. Not only are children becoming increasingly overweight, kids who don’t have the chance to work off their energy during the school day can struggle to concentrate in the classroom.

If you’re a PE teacher, or if you just want to get your pupils more active during the school day, planning your lessons now will help you get the most out of the kids this New Year. Here are some of our favourite ideas to get you started.

Try something different

Getting a little more variety into your PE lessons can help to get kids excited about sport and show your pupils that there’s an activity out there for everyone. If you generally stick to standard sports like football, cricket and rugby, why not mix things up and try something a little different?

Basketball, volleyball, handball and even ping pong can appeal to kids who aren’t interested in more standard activities. By introducing a few alternatives to your lessons, you can give your pupils the chance to try to new skills and excel in different areas.

Many of these alternative sports don’t require expensive specialist equipment. In fact, all you need for most of these games is a new ball. This makes them feasible for all schools, even those working to tight budgets.

Take the competition out

For kids who aren’t naturally gifted at sports, taking part in PE lessons can be daunting. Many fear being chosen last for a team or finishing in last place in a competitive activity. In some cases, the competitive nature of PE lessons can lead to less confident and less physical kids being bullied.

Working to take the competition out of your lessons can help classes to feel more welcoming and more inclusive. Although you don’t need to remove the competitive element of your lessons completely, focusing on the improvement kids are making, rather than just on those who are excelling, can help to boost self-esteem and get pupils excited about taking part.

You could think about having a month or two at the beginning of the year where you focus on non-competitive games and activities. Alternatively, if you’re worried your pupils will lose interest if you remove competition completely, you could ask them to compete against themselves and try and improve their personal performance every week. This can be a great way of motivating your pupils and showing them that sport is for everyone.

Challenge kids to get active at home

While getting kids active during the school day is incredibly important, it’s also crucial that pupils are active when they’re at home. Getting out and about on a regular basis will help kids to build good fitness habits and will help to lay the foundations of a healthy, balanced adulthood.

Challenge the pupils in your class to take inspiration from your lessons and get active at home. Ask them to walk a certain number of steps per day, join a new sports club or just get out for a bike ride a few times a week. If you’re feeling ambitious, you could ask them to get their families involved too and work to get your entire community up and active.

Encourage a positive environment

Positivity is incredibly important when it comes to sports. If your pupils feel good about the games they’re playing and the activities they’re taking part in, they’ll be much more likely to put all their energy into your lessons. Fostering a positive atmosphere can make a huge difference to pupils’ attitudes, especially for those who have previously been uninterested in sport.

Creating a positive environment is all down to you. The more encouraging you are about your pupils’ achievements and abilities, and the less you focus on their shortcomings, the more positive your pupils will be. Creating this environment may take time, so don’t be put off if your efforts don’t get instant results. Stick with your new approach and you’ll soon see your pupils’ attitudes begin to change.

Get parents involved

Getting parents involved is often key to the success of any new initiative. Before you start your new physical activity campaign, talk to parents and get them on board.

If possible, arrange an evening where you can talk to parents face to face. This will give you the opportunity to tell them just how important physical activity is to every aspect of education. Make sure they know what your new lesson plans will entail and make sure they know you’re there to answer their questions.

Be inclusive

Showing kids that anyone can excel at sport, no matter what their physical limitations, can be incredibly powerful. If you want to create a truly inclusive atmosphere at your school, you could arrange for a visit from a Paralympian or another athlete who’s overcome adversity in order to achieve their goals.

Their message can help to get pupils inspired and can show the kids in your lessons that there are no insurmountable obstacles to physical fitness.

Get outside

As winter turns to spring and summer, you can start thinking about moving your lessons from the sports hall to the great outdoors. Although this may not be possible in all schools, those that do still have playing fields or outside play areas should take full advantage of any sunny weather.

If you want to get the kids at your school excited about sport, there are lots of inspiring and fun activities you can try this New Year. Find out more by taking a look round our site today or get in touch with a member of our team on 01223 792200.

20 ways to get children more active at school

Getting children excited and enthusiastic about exercise is essential, in order to set them up properly for maintaining a healthy lifestyle as they grow up. It isn’t just about getting children to run around and get rid of their excess energy. Exercise needs to be made fun and enjoyable.

Education is also very important. Children need to understand that whilst at school they are exercising their brains, and this should go hand in hand with exercising the body. By teaching children that exercise will help make them feel energised and refreshed, and will leave them with a rush of endorphins, they will soon enjoy working out.

Here are some great ways to get children more active when they’re at school.

  1. Orienteering

This is a great way to get the children outside and away from their desks. Group the children into teams and get them to find markers within the school grounds. The first to get back to the classroom wins a prize!

2. Use music for an extra boost

Children and teenagers always seem to be glued to their headphones these days. Incorporating music into PE lessons can really help to motivate the children to run faster or dance more.

3. Play follow the leader

Young children often like to copy others. Use this to your advantage and play a game of follow the leader. By incorporating skipping, sprinting and jumps you will have their hearts pumping in no time.

4. Organise a school charity fundraiser

You could encourage the children to participate in a 3K race, where they can run, walk or skip their way to the finish line. Remember to highlight the importance of taking part as opposed to winning here though. Be sure to set up a fundraising page before you start too.

5. Train the children for sports day

Sports day is a key event in any school calendar. Think about using this to your advantage and preparing the children for the races. Practice does make perfect after all. Having a goal to work towards will be motivation for them.

6. Jumping around

Children need regular breaks when they’re learning new skills in the classroom. A great way to increase the levels of oxygen to their brain is to regularly make them jump up from their seats and move around.

7. After school clubs

Rather than organising traditional after school activities such as singing or reading clubs, encourage children to explore the great outdoors. Consider putting together something innovative, like a school netball or football team to get them out in the fresh air after school. Anything is better than them going home to their computer screens.

8. Outdoor school trips

If you can fit it into your busy curriculum, why not take the class out to a nature reserve or beach in order to study the wildlife. It surely beats sitting in the classroom reading out of books for the day!

9. Join in with the children

Yes you! By joining in with the fun and games the children are having, they will see it less as a punishment or boring form of exercise. Show them how it is done and have a laugh with the children. Whether you have a game of catch or walk round the school playing field, do it together.

10. Have a plan of seasonal activities

When it’s the middle of winter and pouring with rain, it will be almost impossible to encourage the children to go outdoors and exercise. This would be a great time to get them into the gymnasium, playing on ladders, doing roly polys on mats and so much more.

11. Have a varied PE timetable

If the children are made to do netball every week for a month, they’re likely to get bored of it. Mix up the sports that they do within their PE time, and ensure both sexes will enjoy it. Rounders, for example, is a fantastic sport to play in summer.

12. Get the chalk out

Children love playing with chalk and marking out areas in the school playground. Hopscotch is a great way to get children moving – encourage them to draw out the squares and make a game of it.

13. Hula hooping

There are so many different tricks that you can do with a hula hoop (once you’ve mastered the basic technique). By giving the children goals, they won’t even know that they’re exercising, it will all just feel like fun to them.

14. Cycling proficiency

Bikeability is the new ‘cycling proficiency’. Include this within the timetable at your school in order to encourage children to be more active. Teaching them the safety of cycling on the roads will set them up in good stead for the future too.

15. Provide active toys

You can’t encourage children to exercise more without giving them the tools to do so. Have a box of skipping ropes the children can choose from during the lunch break or give them a football to kick around.

16. Encourage children to tidy

Is the classroom looking a bit on the messy side? Are you struggling to find time to organise it before the children arrive in the morning? Why not make a game of it and get the children to help you tidy up? Not only will it mean the classroom will be tidy quicker, but it gets them moving too.

17. Reduce screen time

Whilst computers have their part in education, remember to encourage children to take time away from screens and get some fresh air instead. This will help both their eyesight and their overall general health.

18. Invest in an indoor ping pong table

If the weather outside is grim, ping pong is a great way to get the children moving and jumping around. You could even have a teachers vs students game to really make them improve on their skills outside of school.

19. Encourage a walk to school scheme

Rather than parents dropping their children off in their cars every day, why not put together a sticker chart that rewards children for walking to school instead? Children will be active before the school day starts, and it will make for a safer school by reducing the number of cars near the entrance too.

20. Try something new

Every child enjoys some sports more than others. The best way to encourage them to be active is to find something that they enjoy. Why not put on a week’s worth of different activities during summer to see which the children find more fun. Our activate programme is a perfect way to introduce this into your school.

We hope this has given you some ideas on how to get children more active at school. @PentagonPlayUK recently installed a Daily Mile Track at a school in Norfolk, to encourage children to walk or run a mile each day. There are lots of different ways to get children moving, but making it fun is key.

 

 

 

Image source: https://pixabay.com/photos/run-jump-girl-children-hooray-sky-1321278/

Tokyo 2020 – Get children excited about the Olympics!

It seems like the Rio Olympics were only a couple of months ago, not almost 4 years ago! With Tokyo 2020 just around the corner, it’s a great time to get children educated on the importance of exercise. With so many sports out there, take this opportunity to show them something new. Starting children off at a young age with exercise is key to developing a healthy lifestyle and connecting with exercise and good eating habits.

New sports to get involved with

The Tokyo Olympics brings with it the introduction of some new sports, bringing some unusual activities to a competitive level.

  1. Surfing

This is a hard sport to qualify for as there is only space for a total of 40 athletes (evenly split between males and females), with a maximum of four people from each country. Surfing will take place at Tsurigasaki Beach over a four-day period.

2. Skateboarding

Within skateboarding there will be two categories for each gender. The first is street skateboarding, which is held on a fairly straight course with stairs, benches and handrails. There will also be park skateboarding, which will be performed on a hollowed-out course with curves and deep grooves.

3. Sport Climbing

This will be a combined competition for both men and women, and 20 athletes from each gender will take place. Sport climbing will be split into 3 categories – speed, bouldering and lead.

4. Karate

With Japan being the home of karate, it’s no surprise that Tokyo will host the very first Olympic karate competition. There will be six events in total, three for each gender, and this is then split further into weight divisions.

5. Baseball and Softball

Baseball and softball were part of the Beijing 2008 Olympics but were then removed from the schedule. Japan is the favourite to secure a medal in both sports, so it will be an interesting time for the home team.

Travel to Tokyo

As well as getting children involved in some of the new sports that are launching at the 2020 Olympics, Travel to Tokyo is a nationwide project funded by the National Lottery. As @Living_Sport tweeted, the project aims to inspire children aged 5-11 and their families to try new activities.

All primary schools in England will be contacted about Travel to Tokyo. The project is running until December 2020, meaning that the hype the Olympics brings will continue to inspire young children to try out new sports. The idea behind this concept is to encourage families to motivate each other and in particular make parents more aware of the recommended levels of activity their child should be participating in on a daily basis.

Benefits of exercise

Research carried out by Sport England suggested that 4 in 5 young people aren’t doing the recommended 60 minutes of daily exercise. With the rise in modern technology, it comes as no surprise really. Rather than playing outside after school, many children are straight on the sofa watching the television or glued to a gaming programme.

It’s important to educate children on the importance of exercise so that it becomes second nature for them. Here are some of the benefits:

  1. Physical activity is good for the brain – both its development and functioning
  2. Academic performance is often improved when physical activity increases
  3. Exercise helps with mental health too, with an immediate positive effect on the brain

How schools can make an impact

Encouraging children to exercise is all about making it fun, and in small doses. As part of the Travel to Tokyo campaign there are some fantastic activity guides to give you some inspiration, but why not start with making your own Tokyo mascots – Miraitowa and Someity. As these are different genders, you could split the class into boys vs girls and run some sports day activities. Or better still, why not throw together your very own mini Olympics, complete with an opening ceremony where all the children can dress up and parade around the Olympic torch in preparation.

Put time aside to watch the games

Just because children will be at school for some of the Olympics, it doesn’t mean that they have to miss out. It will be close to the end of term, so could be the perfect opportunity to let the children unwind slightly and have some timetabled sessions where they can watch the Olympics live. Arrange your lesson plans around some of the big finals, particularly when Team GB are in contention for medals. It makes for an even more exciting event for the children!

Bringing the Olympics to the classroom

There are many creative ways that you can bring the Olympics into your lessons, no matter what subject area you teach. English is probably one of the easiest, as you can ask the children to write diary entries from an Olympic athlete’s perspective, a report about their favourite Olympic sport, poems about the Olympics and so much more.

If maths is your subject area, try adding some sports and statistics into your problem solving questions. Ticket prices is a great one to use as an example here. Don’t forget to add an Olympic countdown chart to your classroom wall too.

For the creative arts and music, the Olympics can be made quite fun. You could get pupils to draw a new Tokyo 2020 logo, compose some music for the opening ceremony, or even draw a new mascot. Integrating the Olympic theme into subjects like geography and history is a little harder, but for older students try and focus on educating them about Tokyo and the history of the games.

Get inspired

The whole idea behind the Travel to Tokyo concept is about making the Olympics a fun thing for children to get involved in. Whilst it’s a great occasion to encourage children to take up new sports and try different things, it’s also about bringing different nations together as one and coming up with innovative ideas to make sports and exercise fun for children, with the key goal being to get active.

If you would like any more advice on how you can encourage your children to become fitter, healthier and improve their academic potential, book a visit today to see how we can help.