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The benefits of athletics in schools

athletics track and hurdle

With one in three children obese or overweight when they leave primary school, there is a growing need for physical education (PE) to be prioritised in schools.

The 2016 Rio Olympics are fast approaching and it is hoped that the event will have as positive an effect on schools as London 2012, and will give PE that all-important boost, by encouraging pupils and teachers to 'better' themselves using the power of sport.

Below, Newitts takes a look at some of the main benefits of sport in schools.

A boost in achievement

Research suggests physical activity leads to improvements in achievement at school. Studies conducted by the universities of Strathclyde and Dundee found that intense exercise boosted the performance of teenagers in English, maths and science. The reason being that physical activity can improve brain function. Games that are unpredictable and require a degree of problem solving can boost executive functioning, the skills that help the brain to organise and act on information. This in turn can be transferred to academic tasks, providing schools devise the right physical activity programmes that are carefully planned and delivered.

Keeps children alert

Holding fitness sessions at the beginning of the day has proved an effective way to keep children alert in class and boost their engagement in lessons. Clare Hoods-Truman, a principle at Oasis Academy Blakendale Infants in Birmingham recently introduced a Fit4Schools programme designed to increase her pupils' physical health and mental alertness. She said: “Our key stage 1 results improved dramatically this year. That is not only down to good teaching but also because we’ve created a really positive learning environment that incorporates physical activity.”

"Holding fitness sessions at the beginning of the day has proved to keep children alert in class and boost their engagement in other lessons"

Improves behaviour and truancy

A recent survey revealed that 70 per cent of schools feel sports make a positive contribution to behaviour and truancy. A study conducted in 2009 found that short breaks for physical activity during lessons improved classroom behaviour. Children became more tolerant of one another and worked better in groups.

Helps children to connect

PE can increase the sense of connection students have with their school. Sport provides a way for children to take ownership of what they are doing and feel part of something. The feeling of belonging can be missing from many children's lives and can lead to bad behaviour. Sport provides a way to channel bad behaviour and can in turn boost a child's confidence in the classroom.

Develops resilience and learning skills

Using an instant video analysis tool or by partnering up with another student, children can record themselves exercising then improve their skill levels based on what they see. Students can analyse what they are doing wrong and independently work out how to put it right by discussing it with a partner as opposed to a teacher. Pupils can have complete autonomy over what they do which develops resilience and improves their overall learning skills.


We'd love to hear how participating in athletics at school has helped your children, let us know how you feel it has been beneficial to your children?

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