New physical education project to boost emotional wellbeing of Leeds school children
Dr Tom Van Rossum, Paul Ogilvie and Kate Bancroft – all from the Carnegie School of Education at Leeds Beckett University – will work with a small group of children, aged between 11 and 16 years, who all attend the selected school’s alternative provision setting - education provided outside of mainstream school for pupils who may have been excluded or have needs that can’t be met within mainstream schools - and have been identified as being at risk of poor mental health.
The team are working in partnership with Fit 2 Learn – a social enterprise helping people to achieve their potential through the use of motor skills, sound processing, and visual skills, through games, puzzles and physical activities. Fit 2 Learn are also experts in the effects of trauma on skills development.
Dr Tom Van Rossum, Senior Lecturer in the Carnegie School of Education at Leeds Beckett, explained: “Our programme aims to promote the development of the children’s motor skills and visual and sound processing skills. The short, 20-minute movement-oriented activities are classroom-based and will be delivered every day by staff in the school and supported by parents at home.”
The team will begin by working with a group of eight young people who have been identified as being at risk from poor emotional and mental wellbeing and uncontrolled behaviour.
Dr Van Rossum said: “Children and young people who have lived through traumatic experiences and have grown up in difficult backgrounds have an increased risk of poor mental health, lower engagement and attainment in school, and are more likely to have their education disrupted due to time off from school or exclusion.
“These children are also recognised to have underdeveloped primary senses and motor skill deficiencies. Through the Fit 2 Learn project, we aim to improve the development and mental health - and subsequently capacity to learn – of the group of children we will work with.
“By providing this targeted support to young people, we have the potential to improve their future by providing them with the readiness, self-confidence and motivation to make more positive life choices, influencing their future education and employment.”
As part of the project, the school staff will be trained in the crucial skills and experience required – and will have access to the equipment they need - to continue delivering the programme to more young people within their setting on a long-term basis.
The success of the programme will be measured through monthly reviews to track changes in the children’s motor skills and sound and visual processing. Their emotional and mental wellbeing will also be measured using standardised screening tools.
Dr Van Rossum added: “Our school partners are committed to a long-term intervention for any young people that are in need. We also plan to share the findings of our project widely, so that we can maximise the impact of the research across the country.”
The team are currently looking to recruit a secondary school based in Leeds to take part in the project. Interested schools are invited to get in touch by emailing Paul Ogilvie at P.Ogilvie@leedsbeckett.ac.uk
The research team from Leeds Beckett University are all founding members of the new Research and Innovation Hub for Physical Educators and their Pupils (RIHPEP). The aim of the hub is to bridge the gap between academics and teachers to give children the best opportunity to achieve physical and mental wellbeing through PE and sport, collaborative research, training and consultancy.
To help achieve this, RIHPEP members include collaborators from Leeds United Foundation, Spiral PE, Guiseley Secondary School, The Academy at St James and Morley Victoria Primary School.
The Fit 2 Learn project has received £26,500 of funding from the Linder Foundation and will run from February 2021 to January 2022.