Primary Schools across England look set to introduce a radical anti-inactivity and obesity programme into their curriculums to protect pupils from becoming overweight and unfit, the agency’s client Dan Fallon has told the BBC.
In an interview broadcast yesterday, he explained how children as young as five, including those considered “at risk of inactivity”, will undergo some form of fitness exercise every day. They will perform squats, press ups, lunges and burpees for up to three-and-a-half hours per week in specially-designed PE lessons that are aimed at the “disengaged”.
The independent initiative, called the Lifelong program, founded by Fallon, pictured below, aims to tackle Britain’s £5.1billion obesity epidemic – which has been linked to inactivity – at grass roots level. It is described as one of the most “comprehensive but necessary” shake-ups of the traditional PE system, which some schools believe is failing to engage at-risk pupils.
The scheme, which is voluntary, underwent a pioneering trial at Ashwell Academy in Hull, East Yorkshire, earlier this year where it is said to have “greatly improved” the overall fitness of “unmotivated” Year 7 and 8 pupils. Its students were “markedly more engaged with exercise” and have since taken a big step towards “achieving a healthy lifestyle” generally, findings show.
The initiative has now been adopted by Longhill Primary School in Hull, and by Lakeside Primary School in Tamworth, Staffordshire. Both schools, which each have 200 pupils, have adapted the programme to suit the specific needs and ages of their Early Years to Year 6 students.
It now appears likely that significantly more primary schools across England – where the programme is currently available – will follow suit. There has also been “significant and sincere” interest from seven other primary schools in the South West, the Midlands, and London.
The development follows damning research by the World Health Organisation (WHO) which suggests that childhood obesity is one of the most “serious public health challenges of the 21st Century”. In a UK context, figures from the National Child Measurement Programme 2012/13 show that almost a third of 10 to 11 year olds and more than a fifth of four to five year olds were either obese or overweight.
Listen to the interview with the BBC, in full, here.