January 31, 2017: today’s launch of the Healthy Active Schools System - an online activity measurement tool for schools – is meeting demand from parents and Government to track, measure and report on children’s activity levels at schools.
Research shows that 90% of parents want to know how active their child is in school and would welcome a ‘School Sport Report’ in much the same way they are informed of progress and ability in classroom subjects*. Furthermore, 88% of parents surveyed wanted information and practical tools to help get their children more active outside of school. The Healthy Active Schools System (HASS) – devised and delivered by the UK’s leading children’s activity provider Fit For Sport – is being offered to primary schools so they can track, monitor and evaluate children’s activity levels, and report on this quickly and easily.
Its launch is particularly timely, as it meets key recommendations in The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health’s landmark State of Child Health report
The report, published on January 26, 2017, highlighted that 40% of children in England’s most deprived areas were overweight or obese in the last year, compared to 27% living in more affluent areas. As a FREE resource, the HASS can be accessed by all primary schools, regardless of how affluent they are.
It calls for each UK Government to develop, co-ordinate, implement and evaluate a child health and wellbeing strategy. The HASS monitors and evaluates each child’s activity levels and gives strategic guidance on how to support and improve physical activity in schools.
It seeks to facilitate ‘Recording high quality data to inform metrics of child health and wellbeing’ noting that ‘without a clear measure of the scale of the problems, services cannot be targeted effectively.’ The HASS records, monitors, reports and evaluates the physical activity levels of each child, class, year group and school giving this all-important measurement data. It clearly shows where support and services are needed, enabling local councils to deploy resources directly where needed.
The Healthy Active Schools System is being launched against a worrying backdrop:
• For many children, their inactive habits begin on their first day of school
• Half of seven year olds fail to meet the Chief Medical Officer’s recommended 60 daily active minutes
• The least fit child in a class of 30 in 1998 would be one of the five fittest children in a class today
• One in five children does NO sport or physical activity at school each week
Tracking PE and sport premium
In addition, the HASS shows the impact of the PE and sport premium. This reporting is required as part of the terms of the PE and sport premium grant and HASS makes it simple for schools to show and share this data with local authorities, parents, Governors and interested third parties. Two weeks’ ago the Department for Education announced that it was going to double the PE and sport premium for schools from September 2017, making the HASS launch timely for those schools seeking to show how they would make the most of this increase in funding and accurately track its impact.
“Today’s generation of children are the least active ever and the first in history to face potentially shorter lifespans than their parents,” says Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, chair of ukactive. “Through its recent strategies, the UK government has acknowledged that there is a serious problem, but without robust measurement of our children’s fitness and physical literacy, we will continue to have gaping holes in our evidence base and be unable to measure impact. Empowering schools to track and monitor children’s activity is the first step to understanding the true nature of the childhood inactivity problem. Armed with this, we can react with the most appropriate and effective interventions to give our children the best chance of a happy and healthy adulthood.”
Meeting Government demands
It’s not just parents who are calling for the data and reports possible through the HASS. The Government’s recent Childhood Obesity Strategy highlighted the importance of monitoring the PE and sport premium and utilising online platforms for the planning of activity within the school day. The HASS enables schools to do all this plus it:
• Records physical activity and promotes pupil well-being for OFSTED
• Tracks the PE and sport premium spend and creates comprehensive reports to show how the money has been used and the impact it has had
• Shows which pupils and classes are achieving 30 minutes of physical activity each day at school
• Monitors and records pupils’ ability to swim 5m to 50m
• Provides access to resources to help plan safe, structured and fun activities for PE and school activities – both online and onsite training is available to upskill staff
• Records data that can be used to assist writing school sport reports for parents
• Tracks school sport participation at Level 1 and Level 2 competition including the School Games
Meeting Public Health England recommendations
Public Health England recommends that primary school aged children (4-11) engage in 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity throughout the school day. They recommend children also do 30 minutes’ activity with parents/carers outside of school.
Fit For Sport offers the tried and tested Activity Challenge to support homes and schools in achieving this goal. This comprises three activities – running, catching and jumping. The tasks are simpler for younger children and more complex for older ones. Fit For Sport recommends all pupils do the Activity Challenge to benchmark their start point of the HASS and then repeat the Challenge at the end of each term to see how they have progressed. Their aim is to reach the ‘Gold’ standard of activity level and skills – which equates to meeting the Public Health England target. Current statistics from Fit For Sport show that only 14% of children are meeting the recommended Gold standard, showing there is plenty of work still to be done.
Dean Horridge, founder of Fit For Sport says: “I defy any primary school which says they won’t benefit from using the Healthy Active Schools System. It responds to Government recommendations, tackles childhood obesity and physical inactivity head on, is free to use and delivers vast amounts of valuable data. It sets the benchmark and I urge all schools to get involved.
“Our Activity Challenge has proven highly successful in a school setting,” continues Dean. “It forms the basis of physical activity among all children – be they ‘sporty’ or not - and that is why we have chosen it to be our measurement tool for HASS. Teachers simply upload their class lists against it and input each child’s result,” he explains. “This gives an individual and class picture and will help give teachers a clear idea of what they should be working on: by the next Activity Challenge, a distinct improvement in skills and fitness should be seen.”
Successful pilot – Sandwell
The HASS is already making an impact in schools throughout Sandwell, leading to improvements in pupils’ physical activity levels and ability and an overall progression towards schools becoming more active.
“HASS allows schools to collect data, take ownership of their pupils’ activity and see the level of each child’s physical activity,” says Nathan Moore, Physical Activity Project Manager, Public Health Commissioning at Sandwell Council.
“Before HASS, most PE departments kept records on paper, in folders and shoved in drawers. You can’t manage data robustly like this!” says Nathan. “HASS is part of the solution to combat physical inactivity and reverse the rise in overweight and obese children at primary schools. It’s tangible, accessible, free and shows clearly where the school and its pupils are doing well and where improvements can be made. HASS is not about finger wagging: it’s about giving a helping hand, sharing best practice. It’s not the whole solution but it’s a very good starting point.”
*Research conducted by Fit For Sport in November 2016
About Fit For Sport
With 25 years' experience, Fit For Sport is the UK’s leading expert in educating and engaging children and young people through physical activity. Fit For Sport currently Trains, Supports and Delivers in over 350 schools each week, keeping over 250,000 children active. Its 500 Activity Leaders and Assistants working across the UK believe that helping children to enjoy being active from an early age will set them on a journey to a healthy, active life. www.fitforsport.co.uk.