Suffolk County Council, England, is looking to work with European partners to explore and promote the use of physical activity as a tool to address anxiety and improve educational attainment amongst pupils aged 14-16 years who are undertaking exams. Following on from current small scale pilot work with a single cohort (around 25 students) in the county Suffolk County Council would like to build on the results of this to test opportunities for stakeholders to more effectively integrate physical activity into school settings to achieve positive outcomes in the areas mentioned amongst this age group on a wider scale.
- To identify, test and pilot models of intervention that demonstrate and inform how joined up approaches can lead to better policy making and strategically influence investment decisions, whilst raising awareness of the importance of physical activity at this key transition point for children/young adults.
- Testing interventions to increase the opportunities for pupils 14-16 years of age to incorporate physical activity into their current daily school life.
- Create a culture change for the organisations involved with children of this age in embedding physical activity into their daily life
- Create opportunities for children who do not necessarily engage with current “traditional” physical activity offers and develop/test new ways of engaging these audiences.
- To develop partnerships and collaborate with other organisations to better integrate physical activity into the whole school life.
- Link physical activity to other areas of learning and development within the curriculum by integrating a whole school approach to physical activity as per the World Health Organisation NCD “best buys”.
- Create a one stop shop for all learning from shared practice, interventions, research papers and produce a comprehensive tool kit for stakeholders to use going forward.
- Work with academic establishments to monitor & assess outcomes and provide academic input into outputs.
- Produce some outputs/best practice/resources as “lessons for Public Health Commissioners”.
- Produce evidence bases that can be evidenced to influence discussions on statutory frameworks - such as Ofsted in the United Kingdom - regional and local policy
Why is this important?
- Physical inactivity has been identified as the fourth leading risk factor for globa mortality according to World Health Organisation.
- Currently around 23% of boys and 20% of girls aged 5-15 mins are not achieving the Chief Medical Officer’s government recommended physical activity levels in children of 60 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity.
- Physical activity declines with age in young people; something which has been clearly demonstrated during the transition between primary and secondary school, where over 80% of children in Suffolk’s primary schools reported being active during their free time in school time, compared to only 40% of secondary school children reported being active during break times in school
- There is evidence that physical activity can assist with mental health outcomes and produce better outcomes at key transition stages – in this case exam outcomes
- Public Health England found that “pupils with better health and wellbeing are likely to achieve better academically” and that there is a “positive association … between academic attainment and physical activity”. Anxiety can affect the ability to learn, revise and deliver within an exam situation and so understanding if physical activity can assist with this can hopefully lead to better educational outcomes.
- Increasing the number of physically active, higher achieving young adults with good mental health going into adult life will bring economic benefit to the whole economy as there is general research consensus that academic success in childhood and adolescence is a strong predictor of future wealth, productivity and health.
The value of Collaboration
Collaboration is key to raising engagement and quality of this work. Key focus for working with our overseas partners is to share, develop and transfer innovative practices between participating countries. The partnerships will develop new approaches to embedding physical activity into the school setting and promote the development of this throughout the EU. This is an area where research has been done in the UK to highlight current levels of inactivity and the link between physical activity and attainment/mental health however little research has been carried out into how this can be addressed in practice.
If you are interested in the project, please get in contact with
Partnership Programme Manager
+44 1473 265757
The initial deadline is February 28, 2018.