Promoting physical activity in schools – New Public Health England briefing
What works in schools and colleges to increase physical activity?is a briefing released by Public Health England summarising the evidence from academic literature, practitioner workshops and young people’s feedback.
Emerging evidence suggests an association between being physically active, academic attainment and attention as well as promoting physical and emotional health and wellbeing.
Eight promising principles were identified from the research on how to effectively promote physical activity in schools and colleges. The briefing takes each principle in turn and summarises the evidence underpinning it. Each principle is rated on a scale from zero to five which indicates the quality of evidence available.
The eight principles are:
1.Develop and deliver multi-component interventions to include actions relating to curricular learning, culture, ethos and environment and engaging wider communities and families.
2.Ensure skilled workforce so that staff have the confidence and competence to offer high quality physical education and physical activity across the curriculum.
3.Engage student voice to enhance their ownership of sessions and ensure they are tailored to support participation.
4.Create active environments by providing access to open space, forests, parks and playtimes.
5.Offer choice and variety of opportunities focusing on the fun elements of participation and more traditional sports or activities.
6.Embed in curriculum, teaching and learning by increasing the amount of time spent being physically active during PE and other lessons.
7.Promote active travel as this can play a key role in contributing to children and young people’s physical activity levels.
8.Embed monitoring and evaluation by using self-monitoring tools for children. It’s also important to implement evaluation into physical activity interventions.
The report also identifies limitations in the evidence base which include:
- physical activity is often measured by self-report
- interventions may increase physical activity in a specific context, but this does not necessarily translate to an overall daily increase
- increases in physical activity may not be sustained beyond the intervention
- there is a lack of evidence on what works to make the least active children active
- there is a lack of evidence identifying the key processes to bring about change
- there is a lack of studies that use a control group.
The briefing has been designed for head teachers, college principles, staff working in education settings, directors of public health and wider partners.