The recent ‘Generation Inactive’ report from ukactive has hit headlines this week, as authors of the report suggest primary children be tested for fitness, just as they would for maths and English skills.
The fitness of today’s children has hit a low, with only 50% of seven year olds in England completing the recommended hour of daily physical activity. Lord Sebastian Coe, Chairman of the London Olympic Games Commission, has stated the bleak truth that “today’s children are the least active generation in history, and could be the first generation in existence to have a shorter life expectancy than that of their parents”. Schools currently measure the Body Mass Index (BMI) of pupils via the National Child Weight Measurement Programme, but researchers argue that this measurement can be a smokescreen, as a child can be slim but unhealthy.
It’s clear that the overall fitness of school children needs to be addressed, with the report stating that just as parents and pupils are aware of how they are performing in maths and English, they should be just as aware of their fitness levels. Professor Sir Al Aynsley-Green, former Children’s Commissioner, believes the key to engaging children in physical activity is ensuring there are plenty of “opportunities to be active throughout the day, before, during and after school”. By encouraging children to take part in sports and fitness throughout the day, schools can ensure their pupils are hitting their recommended hour of daily physical activity. With the government committing an extra £150 million per year towards Physical Education and Sport via the PE & Sport Premium, now is the time to invest in children’s’ future health.
Lady Grey-Thompson, ukactive’s chairwoman and Paralympian, believes the focus of the current national curriculum solely around PE lessons is not enough; “we should aim higher and demand more”.
A holistic approach is evidently key to tackling youth obesity in schools today, to help safeguard children’s future health. Rising Stars’ new PE resource Champions is a whole-school, sport, health and fitness programme, specifically designed to stretch beyond the national curriculum for PE. Champions provides 3 lessons a week, focusing on sport, health and fitness, ensuring that pupils’ knowledge of overall health isn’t restricted to the two hours of PE per week. Find out more and check out some free samples here.
You can read the full ‘Generation Inactive’ report by activeuk here, and the related BBC article here.
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