Physically active learning 'should be integral part of school teaching'
CHILDREN should be more active in schools to help boost their academic results in the classroom, it has been suggested.
Active lessons - such as where pupils move around the class or take part in physical activity - rather than simply sitting down can help youngsters to take in and retain information, as well as having health benefits, according to Bryn Llewellyn, a former school leader from Yorkshire.
Mr Llewellyn proposed a motion at the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) annual conference in Liverpool which called for the union to examine how schools can be supported to make "physically active learning" a key part of their teaching.
He questioned why children sit down to learn, saying: "Traditional learning approaches limit educational creativity and academic performance, while also negatively impacting on physical activity and health.
"Physically active learning combines movement and learning."
He said initial research had shown that this type of learning can have a positive impact on areas such as academic performance and classroom behaviour.
Mr Llewellyn said: "As teachers and leaders, we need to look at ways we can increase and embed creative opportunities for teaching and learning.
"Research shows that children who are physically fit are better at absorbing and retaining new information.
"Physically active learning (PAL) approaches not only provide an enjoyable alternative to 'traditional' learning, but promote physical activity - crucial when we all face the increasing problem of sedentary lifestyles."
He added: "There are amazing things going on in our schools, but far too often better practice, either consciously or subconsciously, is pushed aside due to the test-driven culture we operate under.
"PAL involves accountability in its widest sense - physical health, mental health, and attainment across the curriculum."
Mr Llewellyn runs a programme which sees pupils play tag rugby-style games that help them understand different areas of maths and English.
For example, children compete in teams to collect tags, and then work together to solve problems - such as times tables - using the tags they have collected.
Mr Llewellyn said a study has been conducted into the Tagtiv8 scheme, in partnership with Leeds Beckett University.
This involved splitting children into two groups - one had a traditional sitting-down lesson, and the other had an active lesson that involved moving around.
In terms of mathematical fluency - the speed and accuracy with which pupils can give maths answers - those who took part in the active lesson gained around 7% more marks than those in the traditional class, the findings show.
The motion asked the NAHT executive to "explore how schools can be best supported to make physically active learning an integral part of a school's approach to teaching".
There have been concerns about obesity levels among children.
Figures show that In 2016/17 one in 10 children starting school were obese, compared to one in five starting secondary school.