Image demonstrating Schools work together to get more young children active

Schools work together to get more young children active

Improving physical activity in school children was the key aim of  a conference that was attended by over 60 teachers from primary schools across Northumberland.

The conference, organised by Northumberland Sport, included guest speakers and workshops aimed at looking at new ways of introducing physical activity into the school day.

Research has proven that being active each day has a positive impact on academic performance and attendance, pupil behaviour, physical development, wellbeing and self-esteem.

It has also shown that today’s overweight and inactive children are more likely to become tomorrow’s obese adults, whose years of healthy life will be shortened by a whole host of health problems including diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

Northumberland County Councillor Wayne Daley, cabinet member with responsibility for children’s services gave a keynote speech at the event. He said:  “Being active for at least 60 minutes a day is linked to better health, concentration, confidence and learning. However, levels of inactivity have risen nationally to an alarming rate with 33% of children and young people aged 5-16 doing less than an average of 30 minutes physical activity a day.

“What we are looking at encouraging is a flexible, whole school approach so the responsibility for physical activity doesn’t just lie with the PE department, or limit activity to the sports hall or playing field. We want to encourage children to walk to school and we want to encourage all  teachers to incorporate some form of physical activity into their lessons and their daily classroom routine.

Raising physical activity and fitness in our young children will undoubtedly help to build stronger and more successful students while instilling in them good  habits that they will take into adult life.”

Lee Sprudd, executive director with event organisers Northumberland Sport said:  "We were delighted to welcome so many primary school headteachers from all corners of Northumberland to our conference.  Through Sport England's National Lottery funding, Northumberland Sport is able to provide free, impartial support and advice to primary schools to support them to increase activity levels with their pupils across the county."

The conference also gave an opportunity for headteachers to hear about how The Daily Mile can be delivered.  The Daily Mile is a free and simple initiative that involves nursery and primary school pupils running or jogging at their own pace for 15 minutes a day, in the fresh air and at a time of their class teacher's choosing. During this short burst of exercise, most children will average a mile or more.  

In 2013, the Government introduced The Primary PE and Sport Premium to improve the provision of physical education and sport in schools.

Northumberland schools are being encouraged to utilise this funding in the very best and innovative ways possible to ensure that the least active children have the opportunity to take part in a range of physical activities.

Guest speakers during the day included Chris Wright from the Youth Sport Trust and Eileen Marchant, from the Association for PE.  Former Olympic gymnast Craig Heap introduced the day while Jacqueline Mowat, Chair of the Northumberland Physical Literacy Group and Headteacher at Hareside Primary School, provided the closing remarks. 

Dean Jackson, director of education at Northumberland County Council said:  “We were really pleased that so many primary schoo teachers from across Northumberland attended the conference, which demonstrates a real commitment in the county to improving the lives of all young people through regular physical activity.  

“Our guest speakers provided some real inspiration on how to engage with our children more effectively.  The Daily Mile concept provides an exciting cost effective opportunity for schools to meet the challenges presented by inactivity levels, which can be used to improve the health and wellbeing and educational attainment for all our pupils."
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