Encouraging children to exercise daily

Bedales Prep, Dunhurst

In a blog for ISC (Independent Schools Council), Colin Baty, Head of Bedales Prep School, Dunhurst, argues for a curriculum that is rich in physical activity across the board.

Recent research has found that just one per cent of girls and five per cent of boys in Year 5 are getting the recommended amount of exercise each day. Colin believes that this underlines the importance of a curriculum that encourages children to be physically active.

The part PE plays in school life is important, he says, but educationalists should be mindful that the existence of opportunity to do exercise and sport does not automatically translate to good use of the time. At Bedales Schools, says Colin, sporting excellence is not pursued at the expense of mainstream educational objectives – including those related to pupil wellbeing. He says: “We understand sport and PE as an opportunity for kids to try new things, and to get used to the idea that it is not the end of the world if it doesn’t work out. We want our pupils to feel confident as well as competent, and to experience and understand the obligations and joys of teamwork.”

In practice, this means staff going out of their way to structure sport and PE so that there is something to engage every child, and to temper the urge to win with a more sophisticated understanding of the value to be found in sporting encounters. He says: “Our representative sports teams are often very successful, and we take great pleasure in that – but we enjoy it just as much when a pupil who had professed to hate sport begins to enjoy it, or when a team finds a way, collectively, to fight their way back into a losing game, whether they go on to win or not.”

This same ethic applies to the rest of the Dunhurst curriculum, and Colin concludes that the school’s commitment to teaching an educationally demanding curriculum in the most imaginative ways means getting out into the school grounds – perhaps identifying birds, growing vegetables or caring for lambs. He says: “Without them ever having to think about it, then, our pupils are physically active throughout their school day and beyond.”

The full article can be read on the ISC website.

ISC blog | Colin Baty | Bedales Prep, Dunhurst Sport | University of Exeter research