The Association of Play Industries (API) is urging policy makers and head teachers to take a broad approach to tackling the physical inactivity crisis so that children of all ages and abilities are motivated to be active before, after and throughout the school day.
The API, the voice of the UK play sector, welcomes the key recommendations set out in not-for-profit health body ukactive’s Generation Inactive report, launched yesterday by Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, but is concerned that it will encourage policy initiatives that over-focus on school sport to the detriment of other important, more inclusive forms of physical activity like outdoor learning and play.
API Manager, Deborah Holt, says: “We wholeheartedly support the report’s recommendations for head teachers to implement a whole-school approach to physical activity which sees physical literacy valued as highly – and assessed as rigorously by Ofsted – as literacy and numeracy. In fact, we called for this in our own General Election asks. We also support the proposed re-purposing of the current Sport Premium for schools as a Physical Activity Premium which is a logical step to ensure children are physically active during every aspect of school life, not just during PE lessons.
“We are concerned, however, at the implications of the recommendation to introduce structured playtime activities. This will inevitably enforce participation in rigid, competitive sports activities that alienate many children and may put them off physical activity for life. Children also need opportunities to play freely and spontaneously between lesson time. The physical, developmental and social benefits of active outdoor play are well-evidenced and we believe sacrificing play would have a negative impact on children’s well-being.”
The association supports ukactive’s recommendations to improve teacher training but calls to extend the scope beyond PE provision. It says that teacher training institutions should provide high quality training on effective ways to build physical activity of all kinds into every aspect of the curriculum and of the school day.
Deborah Holt says: “The Generation Inactive report provides a strong and positive platform on which to start building the government’s promised national obesity strategy. Its findings are an important reminder that tackling physical inactivity should be the starting point for that strategy. We welcome debate around effective ways to improve and increase physical activity from children’s earliest years because evidence shows that physically active children are likely to become physically active adults, a pattern which will reduce the unsustainable burden on the NHS.”
Download the ukactive Generation Inactive report at https://www.ukactive.com/home