What is really happening to our Primary School children's levels of fitness?

A recent Bristol University Study, funded by The British Heart Foundation, has sent shockwaves through schools across Britain.  The study monitored over 2000 children over a period of 7 years and the results are alarming!

Between the ages of 6 and 11, children became 17 minutes less active A WEEK with every year with year 6 children only achieving 41% of the recommended moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) recommended by the UKI’s chief medical officers.

It’s big news, with the BBC News and other high profile tabloids covering this topic and similar stories of obesity in our primary school children with headlines like..

NO SALAD DAYS Nearly 40% of kids when they leave primary school by 2024 will be overweight or obese damning report claims The Sun.

This isn’t ‘new’ news though.  As far back as 2016 the press were covering child obesity stories like The Telegraph who highlighted the fact that British children were among the least active in the world with exercise ‘stripped’ out of modern lives.

So what are we doing about it?

The government are attempting to tackle this growing problem with a 2019/2020 spending commitment of £320m which is allocated to primary schools through a Primary PE and Sports Premium Funding Programme.

Are our children getting enough exercise?

The real truth here though, is that Primary Schools up and down the country are still struggling with their physical education programme, even with the new injection of cash from the government.

There are five key indicators that the government has outlined the Primary PE and Sport Premium money should be spent on. These include:

1

The engagement of all pupils in regular physical activity

The Chief Medical Officer guidelines recommend that all children and young people aged 5 to 18 engage in at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day, of which 30 minutes should be in school.
2

Include PE in school performance assessments

Ensure the profile of PE and sport is raised across the school as a tool for whole-school improvement.
3

Improved teaching skills

Increased confidence, knowledge and skills of all staff in teaching PE and sport to ensure every class receive the same teaching levels.
4

Broaden children's sporting skills

Broader experience of a range of sports and activities offered to all pupils across the country in all schools not just larger town-based schools.
5

Create competitive sports teams

More priority placed on younger children to participate in a competitive sport through their school against other local schools.

The above five key elements all look very positive from a government statistic point of view of course. Unfortunately, they have not addressed HOW they are going to deliver these 5 key elements.

We’ve highlighted below the gaps and issues which will prevent our primary school children becoming more active through just a funding exercise:

LACK OF PRIMARY TEACHER TRAINING

There is a lack of teacher knowledge for delivering an ongoing, engaging, healthy and active PE programme. In fact, some primary school teachers only receive an average of 6 hours of teacher training in Physical Education during their initial training module.

ALARMING DECLINE IN THE NUMBER OF PRIMARY SCHOOL TEACHERS

Unfortunately, we are seeing a decline now in the number of primary school teachers across England particularly. The risk is that PE lessons and skilled competitive sport activities will reduce as schools struggle to keep up with the constant and increasing academic assessments having to use substitute teachers to plug the gaps.

EXCESSIVE TEACHER WORKLOAD

Excessive teacher workload is a problem because the government is constantly raising the bar on what they expect from schools. By changing the way schools are evaluated and the relentless pressure on performance and results coupled with funding cuts which has led to reduction in staffing levels and, in some instances, larger class sizes, it is no wonder that primary school teachers are feeling the pressure.

The government have pledged further learning opportunities for primary teachers to improve their PE or competitive sports knowledge as part of this funding. However, some claim they are already stretched and overworked with their work-life balance affected with their greater responsibilities and increased hours.

What can the government do to tackle these 3 major issues? It is about finance of course, but it is also about understanding what is actually going on in primary schools up and down the country.

Giving them better tools to teach with and taking some of the burden away from our wonderful primary school teachers.

What if there was a programme that Primary Schools could invest in using their allocated funding to provide PE Lessons for 6-11 year old pupils?
Perhaps the 39 week programme had weekly lessons for children to follow eliminating the need for a teacher to design and plan each lesson weekly reducing the workload of the already overworked primary school teacher!
What if it addressed every government recommendation for 6 – 11 year old’s health and fitness in a fun and engaging way!

Of course the answer is SPR Juniors....

The SPR Juniors Programme

SPR Juniors Programme is a highly active P.E lesson resource pack containing video and lesson plan resources that allow staff to deliver high quality Physical Education at the push of a button.

Learn More

The programme for SPR Juniors is designed to offer each primary school a balanced education programme focusing on nutrition, fitness and mindset delivering Strong Powerful Resilient Juniors!

Primarily, the programme provides progressive P.E. lessons for years 3 to 6 which help children improve their core fitness and develop motor skills that will underpin their sporting performance.

Each school will also have access to our SPR Junior Resource Centre. This is an online library for teachers to access nutritional guidance to support their curriculum plus it includes fun goals and milestones for pupils to reach that will support their nutritional awareness.

These resources are designed to be used as part of the weekly parent newsletter.  They help parents understand, in more depth, what their children are learning in relation to nutrition and fitness and give them the core information on how to encourage their children to continue their SPR Junior’s programme at home!