Public Health England updates resource for colleges to increase physical activity

AoC Sport has worked with Public Health England and other partners to update the ‘What works in schools and colleges to increase physical activity’ document, originally published in 2015.

The resource summarises the evidence of the benefits of physical activity on children and young people including improved concentration, attention and academic achievement as well as enhanced mental wellbeing.

The document brings together key guidance and policy documents on increasing physical activity alongside examples, which has been produced to support schools and colleges to develop and implement effective evidence-based approaches utilising eight key principles.

Each of the eight principles are accompanied by a case study from a college. Colleges can utilise the different sections of the document depending on where they need to improve their provision. The principles can be seen below:

The eight key principles are:

  1. Develop and deliver multi-component interventions – adopting a ‘whole college approach’ appears to be most effective for increasing physical activity: incorporating curricular learning with the culture, ethos and environment and engagement of the wider college community.
  2. Ensure skilled workforce – ensuring staff have the confidence and competence to offer high quality experiences of both physical education and physical activity across the school/college day.
  3. Engage student voice – giving students a voice and enhancing their ownership of physical activity delivery to ensure that activities are appropriately tailored to their needs can support participation.
  4. Create active environments – good access to, and integration in the school/college day of, open space, forests, parks and playgrounds are positively associated with physical activity levels. Access to a range of equipment, along with non-traditional play materials also support physical activity among children and young people.
  5. Offer choice and variety – offering a variety of physical activity opportunities for young people to take part in, including free play can increase participation in physical activity. In addition, a focus on games and fun, as well as the more traditional sports or competitive activities, can help to encourage participation, particularly among inactive pupils.
  6. Embed in curriculum, teaching and learning – increasing the amount of time spent being physically active during PE and other lessons can improve both physical development, educational outcomes and emotional development.
  7. Promote active travel – active travel can play a key role in contributing to children and young people’s physical activity levels. Travel plans which include a range of active travel options, have been found to increase physical activity levels among children and young people.
  8. Embed monitoring and evaluation – effective evaluation of physical activity interventions is considered to be a cross cutting principle that requires the identification of baseline information, interim outputs or milestones and outcomes.

If you have any questions about the document or would like support to implement the key principles then please email Kirstie Hickson (South) or Rachel Walker (North).

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