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UK Coaching Team
21
Rapport Building and Communicating Improving Physical Ability

The Daily Mile: Pumping Up the Energy Levels and the Volume

Blake Richardson visited Cudworth Churchfield Primary School for the second in our two-part series on The Daily Mile™. The school’s enthusiasm and observance of the principles that are key to its successful implementation serve as a shining example to other schools

Intent, Implementation and Impact. Three words that underpin Oftsed’s Education Inspection Framework. And the same three I’s that Yorkshire Sport Foundation used to measure which schools had gone the extra mile after signing up to The Daily Mile.

More than a hundred South and West Yorkshire schools entered the Active Partnership’s Daily Mile competition, hoping the verdict for their school would be ‘the ayes have it!’

And when Cudworth Churchfield Primary School in Barnsley were informed they were one of five schools to win the first prize of some outdoor portable speakers, it was music to their ears.

“It was inspiring to read the impact The Daily Mile has had in the school, especially in terms of helping to reduce the number of behaviour incidents,” says Shania Boom, who is Yorkshire Sport Foundation’s Daily Mile Local Coordinator.

The aim of The Daily Mile is to improve the physical, social, emotional and mental well-being of children – regardless of age, ability or personal circumstances – and Cudworth Churchfield deliver brilliantly on those objectives.”

We popped in for a visit on the day Shania presented the school with their brand-new speakers, so we could see its impact for ourselves.

And they’re off!

The freshly unwrapped speakers belted out a medley of chart-topping pop songs during the Year 6’s 15-minute daily burst of physical activity. There was no official starter pistol to get things underway, however it would have been appropriate, considering the first song requested was Shotgun by George Ezra.

The children were quick out of the blocks. Clumped together in their Cudworth Churchfield cardigans, they created a wall of red as they flashed past in a blur like a Barnsley counter-attack at nearby Oakwell.

As the bright red ball orbited the playground, it quickly grew a comet’s tail that stretched longer by the lap as the relentless pace began to tell on some of the faster starters (whose enthusiasm was no doubt further whipped up at the sight of our video cameras). Which is absolutely fine, as The Daily Mile is not a race. The simple goal is for each child to go that little bit further each time.

And it wasn’t just the speakers that were on at full volume. The human rockets were making a racket. Which is also fine. The Daily Mile, after all, is meant to be fun and it’s okay for the children to bawl while they’re having a ball.

Teachers joined in the fun and offered some gentle cajoling to those whose endeavour began to wane, and when the 15 minutes were up, the blood was pumping as much as the bass.

What was noticeable was that the smiles on the faces of the adults were as broad as those worn by the children.

And then, as suddenly as it all began, it was over, and the children made their way back to class to begin exercising their minds.

On their best behaviour

In Part One of the mini-series, I referred to The Daily Mile as being like the proverbial well-oiled machine, that must be nurtured and well-managed if it is to go the distance.

The school’s head teacher – or it could be the assistant head or PE Subject Leader – is in effect the chief mechanic, responsible for assembling all the nuts and bolts and keeping the vehicle’s engine ticking over. The teachers and support staff, meanwhile, provide the necessary fuel to drive the project forwards.

The children themselves represent (in the words of a well-known children’s song, the wheels on the bus that go round and round! They are the ones with the energy to burn.

It was exhilarating to watch a Daily Mile close up and to find out from Behaviour and Attendance Officer Clare Kaye and Assistant Head Jonathan Bean the background behind why and how the school set the wheels in motion.

After analysing the Active School Planner and consulting with staff we found that the children who were inactive at lunchtimes had a higher proportion of behaviour incidents reported by teachers than those pupils who were regularly active at lunchtimes,” says Jonathan. 

“We wanted to devise a programme to engage these pupils in regular physical activity so all our pupils were given the same opportunity to be active and healthy.”

The school trialled The Daily Mile in one class to see the impact and gauge the reaction of the children. Within days, other children in other classes heard about it and wanted to join in.

Governors and Senior Leaders have also helped to drive the programme, which has been a major factor in its success, says Clare, while the school uses social media to involve parents too and this, she adds, has helped to increase the levels of engagement.

The parents get to see what is happening in school and they encourage their children to regularly take part as they have seen the benefits to their children’s attitude to physical activity and to school as a whole.”

 

An active child is a happier child

Reacting to the publication of Sport England’s Active Lives Children and Young People survey in December 2018, then Sports Minister Mims Davies said of the largest survey of its kind ever undertaken: “We know that an active child is a happier child”, and Clare can vouch for that sentiment.

“Our children love to be able to have a break and come out in the fresh air and test themselves. It gives their minds a break from being sat behind a desk, and that is what most of our children want and need. 

 

We do not mind if it is running, walking or both, as long as they are out there trying, and pushing each day to try and achieve their own personal goal. That is what matters to us.”

 

As for impact, the results have been better than they could possibly have imagined. Clare reveals: “There has been a significant increase in the levels of physical activity, increasing from 27% to 60% in six months, with up to 230 pupils per day regularly taking part. And behaviour incidents during the afternoons have decreased from 8% to 3%.”

If you are interested in signing up to The Daily Mile and joining a community which is fast approaching 10,000, then hotfoot it to the official website.

The Daily Mile: Part 1

In ‘How to Bring a Smile to The Daily Mile’ we outline the core principles schools must embed for it to be a sustained success

Read it Now

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