Creating Active Schools in Calderdale – Early Impact in Two Trailblazing Schools

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Creating Active Schools in Calderdale began with staff training in 12 Phase 1 Trailblazer schools in the Summer term of 2021. With the goal of supporting pupils to be active whenever possible and utilising Physically Active Learning to improve learning, attainment, attendance and behaviour, and with input from the whole staff, each school produced a bespoke action plan, individual to each school, which was implemented during the Autumn Term of 2021.

Below are highlights from two of the Trailblazers who have seen this simple, step-by-step process have an immediate and very positive impact on the whole school.

Cliffe Hill Community Primary School

Although the project is in its infancy, here at Cliffe Hill we have seen the most impact through our leading by example. Showcasing staff involvement in activities has allowed us to reach out to every pupil and inspire and support them to increase their own activity levels.

Stepping Out

During the Autumn Term a member of our staff took on a 500,000 Steps in November challenge to raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospice. We felt this was an excellent opportunity to launch our commitment to becoming an Active School as it incorporated the goals set in our Active Schools action plan which included children making healthier lifestyle choices and using a more physically active form of transport. We took a whole school approach and included the children through:

  • Regular updates on the number of steps completed
  • Maths activities based on steps needed per week/day/hour
  • Whole school step day, where children all walked with the member of staff to help increase his overall total - including counting steps per class
  • A fundraiser to support the member of staff reach his total

The impact of this across the school was to:

  • Increase in activity levels for all children
  • Raise the profile of walking as an alternative to other sports
  • Increase participation, evident through children’s feedback on weekend and after school activities
  • Have an inclusive approach to engage all children
Teacher and class pupils walking outside in the school playground
Mr. Duncan leads the way and walks with pupils of Cliffe Hill Community Primary School
Teach and class pupils cheer with hands in the air at the front of the classroom.
When we move, we're stronger - smiles all around for Cliffe Hill Community Primary School

Next steps:

To sustain the momentum of this success, we are now supporting a member of staff in undertaking a virtual walk from Land’s End to John o’Groats. With regular updates through virtual posts cards providing constant inspiration, children have been motivated to continue their own walking interest, either to keep walking as a form of transport or even to undertake their own challenge. We are also taking a whole school approach again with a whole school walk planned for February.

Healthy Selfies and Active Homework

Another means of motivation has been our Healthy Selfie project; staff have shared pictures on the school’s social media platforms of themselves being active at weekends and outside the school day. By demonstrating how the staff are active, this has motivated pupils and their families which has seen increased involvement in local events and encouraged participation in park runs, walks in the local area and cycling routes in the district. Celebrating children’s physical activity and including their family with Active Homework tasks, has in turn inspired other children and families to become more active.

The impact of this has been great to see; as more and more pupils and families have become involved, the number of pictures shared has increased over time and opened dialogue between children and staff about the activities they engage in. As people share their experiences this has widened communication channels between pupils and staff and opened new friendships between the children, all of which have led to a positive impact with the school becoming a true community.

No Phone Friday

To demonstrate to the children that it is important for staff to remain active, we have a new policy in place where phones are ‘banned’ every Friday! Instead, staff walk to deliver messages with the impact that children see adults walking to deliver messages and remaining active. We now intend to purchase step counters and hold a member of staff versus pupil competition each week per class to see who completes the most steps.

As an Active School it is our goal to support children in to become more physically active and understand the importance of living a healthy lifestyle. In only a single term we have already begun to do this and are helping our pupils to be healthier and happier for life.

St. Malachy’s Catholic Primary School

Our first action as an Active School was to change our policy to instigate a system where the ‘Most Active Class of the Week’ is rewarded with an extra break time. This has been extremely successful and had several positive impacts across school.

Behaviour

  • We are seeing a notable decrease in behavioural incidents during our structured break times compared to the morning break/lunchtimes. As the children are engaged in an activity, this limits the opportunity for any negative behaviour to take place.
  • Corridors – One class that struggled with the transition from playground to class introduced tiptoe walking and animal walking. They follow the leader and make sure they are walking down the corridor silently whilst copying the leader in an active way. This has meant they now transition on the corridor quietly and are ready to learn when they return to the classroom.

Engagement

  • The children also want to win the extra break reward so try to find Senior Leaders to let them know what they are doing. They are saying “Look we are being active” which gives us a great point to move forward from in terms of health education and with behaviour and attainment in general.
  • Another major change for us, when the children are taking part in an activity that could lead to ‘Active Class of the Week’ the whole class take part in the activity. This not only has an impact on positive behaviour but the children taking part in active learning activities of spellings and times tables has increased. As a school, we know our children excel when learning is presented in often and regular smaller chunks, and by presenting Physically Active Learning has seen an increase in spelling and times tables confidence linked to this.

Attainment

  • Confidence has grown due to Physically Active Learning taking place, which allows children to learn and consolidate known facts.