The Power of an Active Classroom

Sarah Tague, 06-08-2019

With International Youth day taking place on August 12th, this month's blog piece explores some of the great work schools are doing to transform education and improve outcomes for pupils by utilising the power of physical activity.

Active children learn better.

Physical activity improves brain function by increasing oxygen, water and glucose to the brain which leads to improved concentration. Public Health England have found a positive association between academic attainment and physical activity levels of pupils. Children and young people who are aerobically fit have higher academic scores. Furthermore, physical activity has been linked to improved classroom behaviour across the whole school (source: Public Health England).

Many schools across the Humber are prioritising physical activity as a tool for whole school improvement and are looking improve the physical activity levels of their pupils in a variety of ways.

Active Lessons

By incorporating physical activity breaks into lessons. Studies show that children are better able to learn for 30-60 minutes following the activity. Schools are delivering a variety of activities from allowing one pupil a 'magic' word to initiate an activity break when concentration is flagging to more formal programmes such as the Premier League Stars, Super Movers which is a series of on-line videos linked to the curriculum designed to get pupils up and moving whilst they learn. A project evaluation showed that brain speed increased by an average of 19% for those children taking part in Super Movers.

Schools are now delivering active lessons, using movement to help teach academic concepts in a fun and engaging way whilst increasing physical activity levels across the class. Schools have invested in CPD through their local sport partnership and the Youth Sport Trust to ensure that teachers have the confidence, skills and knowledge necessary to effectively deliver an active curriculum. Spring Cottage Primary School in Hull who have delivered Active Curriculum, reported back that pupils are enjoying lessons more, an improvement in behaviour as well as a continuation in the upward trend of their SATs results

Critical Cardio

Active Breaktimes to help children raise their heart rates (cardio fitness is a critical factor when it comes to academic performance) and some schools have trained older pupils to act as sport ambassadors to deliver activity to younger pupils or looked at innovative clubs to engage as many pupils as possible, such as Willerby Carr Lane School's (East Riding) Marathon Club. This is a lunchtime activity running across multiple days challenging children to run a cumulative distance of their choosing. Easy to deliver, with children only needing to change footwear but also largely self-administered with children encouraging each other to just run one more lap.

There is still a lot more to be done. The Active Lives Children Survey findings show that only 17.5% of children aged 5-16 meet the chief medical offices guidelines of 60 minutes physical activity a day.

So what can you or your school do to encourage active classrooms? Or maybe you are already doing great work in this area. We would love to hear your stories and ideas to share across our network, please get in touch on

To find out more about Power of an Active School, you can watch a short video produced by the Youth Sport Trust.

Youth Sport Trust; Power of an Active School:

For more ideas on how to increase children's activity levels outside or curriculum PE please see the Active Humber website.

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