One aspect of our work relates to children’s physical activity levels, their daily target in accordance with the Childhood Obesity Plan (COP) and the well documented benefits that being physically active has on children’s wellbeing (physical and emotional), concentration levels and achievement.
In the Autumn of 2017, the Department for Education (DfE) announced that the School Sports Premium (SSP) was doubling to an average of £17,985 for all infant, primary, academies and special schools. The SSP was to be used to ‘develop, or add to the Physical Education (PE), physical activity (PA) and school sport (SS) already offered and to build capacity and capability that will benefit pupils in the future’ (DfE, 2017). Amongst the suggested indicators of impact, pupils’ engagement in regular physical activity was ranked first. The Chief Medical Officer (CMO) guidelines recommended that children should complete 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous PA everyday, 30 of which should be completed at school and the other 30, at home. Schools must publish how they spend the funding, as well as the impact on participation and attainment, by the end of each summer term to provide (Ofsted-monitored) accountability.
Schools were therefore tasked to use their additional funding to create additional opportunities for all pupils to complete 30 minutes of PA during the school day. However, whilst schools were hiring sport coaches, fitness instructors, buying new equipment or ‘upskilling’ their own staff, little was being done to help children complete, or be motivated to complete, the 30 minutes ‘at home’, as recommended by the CMO.
To assist this process, we created the 30:30 Wristband Challenge. The idea was created to allow schools to self-manage a process that would motivate young people to WANT to achieve the target of completing 30:30 PA minutes. A ‘tick-box’ data collection sheet was developed through consultation with colleagues, school partners and a graphic designer, to produce the most simple, but effective data collection method. Whilst there was a trust element to this process, it was hoped that the honesty statement and the pupil and parent declaration was sufficient to ensure integrity to the project.
Adding to the physical activity and achievement theme, the wristbands were designed in bronze, silver and gold colours, progressively becoming more difficult to complete. Schools in Leeds were provided with slides to launch the intervention, a certificate for those completing the first 10 days and data collections sheets to distribute to their children.
After one year, it is pleasing to report that over 6,000 young people from 56 different primary schools have earned a bronze, silver or gold wristband, recognising pupils’ commitment to their own wellbeing. In addition, Leeds Council supported two special individual awards, nominated by their teachers and presented by the Mayor of Leeds at a special ceremony. Whilst teachers have reported changed to pupils’ attitudes towards PE, PA and SS, watch this space for the findings from ongoing research, aiming to capture the perceived impact and changes to motivation of participation pupils. Due to demand, staff and high school wristband challenges are also now available.
The success of this project and the growing interest from further afield (eg. rest of England, Norway and Dubai) has given us the confidence to invest in a new, recently launched, design for year 2, the ‘marbled’ wristband. It is hoped that the growing number of participants and reported impact on children’s physical activity levels will be testimony to encourage more schools to enjoy this simple but effective intervention. The ultimate goal, of course, is to help improve the physical fitness and attitudes of our young people across the country and assist schools in meeting the 30:30 target as stated in the COP.
Contact: 3030WC@leedsbeckett.ac.uk, for further details.