A BRADFORD school is using an innovative new teaching model to combine PE, English and Maths.

Pupils at The Academy at St James, Allerton, took part in a session outdoors today.

The idea for the model came from two former Yorkshire school leaders, who have joined forces to support schools and help them tackle the physical and emotional impact of lockdown on children.

Research led by Leeds Beckett University has shown that their Physical Active Learning (PAL) approach tackles inactivity levels – and impacts positively on academic performance.

Chris Tolson, Headteacher at St James Academy, added: “Playing games engages even the most reluctant learners.

"Now that spring is here, I am keen to teach children as much as possible outdoors, which has obvious mental as well as physical benefits. Obesity rates are highest in deprived areas such as Bradford, which is a huge concern. I’m eager to encourage a positive, empowering approach to learning after such a despondent, isolating time that has left many families so fatigued.

"We need to be re-energised.”

Wakefield-based education innovators, Tagtiv8 and Community Interest Company, Move and Learn, have been supporting schools over a number of years by integrating movement into traditional curriculum lessons.

Bryn Llewellyn and Ian Holmes are sharing their work and research at the World Education summit (March 22-25) - with a global online audience of school leaders.

Sport England’s Active Lives Children and Young People Survey showed the number of children who were physically active fell during the 2019/20 academic year in England, due to the pandemic. 

Ofsted reported from the first lockdown that some pupils "lost physical fitness" as well as "losing stamina in reading and writing".

Bryn said: “As educators, we are well positioned to help children and teachers who have been affected mentally and physically by lockdowns.

"We have all re-evaluated what is important during the pandemic. This is the time to embrace a new, better approach. Health and well-being should be a priority to ensure children have the best outcomes possible.

"We want Ofsted and the Department for Education to consider the growing body of evidence from across the globe, as well as research led by Leeds Beckett University, that shows Physical Active Learning impacts positively on academic performance.”

Tagtiv8 was set up in 2012 to combat the concerns of teachers that students were sitting for far too long in schools.

The organisation has worked with teachers and children to develop Physically Active Learning games. and, to date, it has worked with 70,000 children and teachers across seven countries

Ian Holmes, co-founder of Move and Learn, has recently moved from being a headteacher at Thorner Primary School to take on the role of Creating Active Schools Director for JU:MP (Join Us Move Play).

He said: “Even before the pandemic, insufficient opportunities to be active have meant that our children are losing out in terms of physical health, mental health and even just the joy of learning through methods that don’t require you to sit still.  It’s no surprise that we are seeing increasing numbers of children leaving school classified as obese or overweight.

“Teachers and parents alike are desperate to look for outdoor activities that improve physical fitness and educational outcomes.

"Children are sat for far too long - either at desks unable to concentrate for long periods of time or recently through excessive screen time in both their learning and play during lockdown.  Schools should be an inspirational place to learn and play.  Movement-based learning should be used across the curriculum and has the potential to be a key strategy in ensuring healthy, happy and successful childhoods.”