Uptake Of Physical Activities On The Rise In Dagenham

 In October last year, The Telegraph reported that figures released by Public Health England (PHE), showed that a third of children in England are overweight when they leave primary school. And while encouraging children to eat well and exercise more is a priority among parents and teachers alike, instilling enthusiasm and determination to be healthy in young people, has traditionally proved challenging. Last year, however, one secondary school in Dagenham, reported a significant increase in students’ uptake of physical activities, with 90 per cent of Key Stage 3 pupils attending at least one extracurricular club. Head of PE at All Saints Secondary School, Daisy Hamilton, explains what they have done to ensure that students’ health is at the forefront.


The NHS recommends that young people get 60 minutes of physical activity per day. However, today’s students have very busy lives. With coursework, after school jobs and general teenage drama, finding this spare hour can feel like an unnecessary addition to the day. Nevertheless, schools need to ensure that students still participate in PE. Making sure all your students are present, at the very least, is a great starting point. We’ve made sure that ‘opting out’ of PE is not an option for our students.

Piquing their interest

To support this not ‘opting out’ policy we offer various sports to students in order to achieve the highest possible levels of student participation. In addition, we’ve introduced different roles within sports, and encouraged them to try out different positions such as umpiring and coaching. By introducing the roles of coach, organiser or official, every student can engage and participate, without having to  be directly involved in the game every time. This also develops a wider skill set and deeper understanding and purpose of the sport at hand.

Promoting competition

Providing both recreational and competitive clubs is also a good idea, as students who don’t want to compete against other schools or their peers are still given the opportunity to get active. Something which has also certainly impacted on the take-up of sport at All Saints has been the competitions; we have had the Year 11 rugby team reach the quarter final of the National Rugby League, the Year 11 football team reach the final of the Borough London Cup, and our Year 9 girls won the Barking and Dagenham round of the basketball competition.

This element of competitive success drives many students to achieve. By developing a culture of sport within your school community, you ensure that come September each year, you are introducing new Year 7 students into a school that nurtures sporting ambition. These students will then have the success stories from older students to aspire to, breeding a school ethos in which students are invigorated by the prospect of sporting achievement.

Demonstrating flexibility

Rather than purely offering sport during PE lessons, we have extracurricular clubs that run afterschool, before school and during lunch breaks. Having clubs before school and during lunch breaks is great for children whose parents don’t want them to have to walk home in the dark during the winter months. It also means that children who want to participate in more than one club a day can do so without their timetables conflicting.

According to the Mental Health and Physical Activity Journal, there is evidence to suggest that increasing physical activity improves academic achievement in children. With this in mind, if schools can blend physical activity into the school day as naturally as possible, children who would perhaps not ordinarily get much physical exercise can do so, with the added benefit of potentially improving academically.

There has been ample research to suggest that childhood obesity is a growing concern in the UK, and considering children spend most of the day at school, as teachers, it’s our responsibility to ensure that students are practicing a healthy lifestyle. By providing a balanced and diverse extracurricular programme for all our students, we aim to help each and every one find a sport or activity that they enjoy and want to play. We work hard to ensure that regardless of their age or physical ability, our students are able and willing to participate in PE. From the social interaction you get through sport, to the mood-boosting endorphins released when you exercise, it is, quite literally, an incredibly healthy way for students to keep fit, and relieve themselves from any stress.

You can contact Daisy on dhamilton@allsaintsschool.co.uk 

 or go to www.allsaintsschool.co.uk for more information 

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