From January 2016, two schools undertook the first active movement pilot to involve a number of schools in a single town. In partnership with West Berkshire Council and Get Berkshire Active, Park House School (the first national secondary school ever to take part) and The Winchcombe Reception and Primary school were introduced to the active movement for the Spring and Summer term.

A comprehensive programme of active movements was supplied. Teachers were briefed to introduce the programme into the classroom. Communication campaigns were placed around the schools plus special walks within the school for children to complete. House points and other rewards were offered creating competition and fun. Animal characters were used to engage the youngest age groups.

Active movement supported the school with ideas, advice and support plus evaluation processes including focus groups, behavioural questionnaires, teacher and pupil forums and regular visits.

The results have been outstanding.

In Park House, quantitative analysis saw a reduction in car and public transport journeys yet increases in cycling and walking. Activity levels across hard and moderate exercise showed a statistically significant increase. Year 7 children integrated regular group walking into weekly routine as a bonding event. A behavioural science class project showed the power of standing up when memorising text which led to the active revision reference card for all exam-takers (and perhaps helped contribute to the school’s best ever GCSE and A level results!) One parent wrote to express their delight that their once computer-fixated son now goes on regular walks with his grandparents.

At The Winchombe School, data clearly demonstrated that over 7 day periods there had been increases in activity across the 2, 3 and 4 days times a week bands. In break times, more children walked and ran around. There was a general increase in sporting activity. Maths trails added to the learning experience whilst a challenging child in assembly stated in front of the school “I really like active movement because I find it difficult to concentrate and sit still in class so it helps me to focus when I am on the carpet and with my learning”. Active classes were held showing them to be more dynamic, energetic yet perfectly supervised.

Excitingly for a programme that is designed to be transitional between different settings, the April Active Debating event saw The Winchcombe visit Park House and join enthusiastically in a speed debate contest involving movement and argument!.

The active movement programme is now so much part of the Park House ethos that the school has appointed an Active Well Being Co-ordinator promoting the relationship between more movement, physical activity and emotional well-being. At the same time, The Winchcombe is maintaining the programme with a view to a second training session in the next few weeks. Teachers continue to integrate the programme as they become increasingly comfortable and innovative. Parents have expressed their hope that the programme will continue as they see the benefits at home.

The Newbury pilot has seen a major shift in the understanding, effectiveness and development of the programme along with the first indications of behavioural shifts in the young towards their long-term well-being.

One might describe it as a real active movement.

Active Movement by parents and teachers

What parents said about the Newbury pilot

‘A really good initiative for the school to take; a lot of children today would benefit from this sort of programme’

‘A fantastic concept’

‘It helps them set good habits for the future’

‘A brilliant idea for those children who are turned off by PE’

What teachers said about the Newbury pilot

‘My class love it: they stand to answer questions or read – it helps the children be more active in class – because kids can lose focus.’

‘It helps with attitude change for some who are less keen on exercise’

‘The kids love the animals and seem to take on the idea. Some of them do choose to stand – because I now always give them that choice – and they like the Max and Tiggy area.’

What children said about the Newbury pilot

‘It has affected me more out of school than in school. If I’m feeling a bit low or in need of motivation in the evenings, for homework or just in general, I’ve started going for a quick run.’

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