Every primary school in Suffolk urged to join Daily Mile scheme
- Credit: Gregg Brown
The Ipswich Star today relaunches a campaign urging every primary school in the area to join the pioneering Daily Mile scheme to help improve fitness and attainment levels among children.
Headteachers who are already part of the national initiative have urged others to sign up and get hundreds more children running, jogging or walking a mile at school every day.
The Daily Mile has been credited with improving children’s focus, behaviour and attainment, reducing obesity levels and helping mental health issues.
Currently, 11 primary schools in Suffolk have signed up. Today, the Star renews its call for Ipswich schools to sign up, at the same time as our sister paper, the East Anglian Daily Times, launches the appeal county-wide.
It comes on the day that Elaine Wyllie, the Scottish primary school headteacher who founded the Daily Mile five years ago, meets with Suffolk County Council chiefs to help get more schools on board.
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David Whatley, a co-headteacher at Heath Primary School in Kesgrave, one of the 11 schools signed up in Suffolk, said children have enjoyed a wide range of benefits since they started last September.
He said: “Fit children are fit for life and fit for learning, and we have found a positive impact on learning across the whole school.
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“Our children are certainly fitter and teachers are reporting that children are more alert in the classroom. They are keen to get out there and develop this growth mindset approach. It is about being able to better yourself.
“They have been setting personal targets for how far they can run. Some started with just short distances. But now, after hard work and practice, they are getting better.
“They are now better in the classroom, more alert, and ready to get on with learning. They are fitter and healthier. It is free and simple for teachers to choose when they want to do it. It only takes 15 to 20 minutes, and we are lucky to have a large field. It is a win-win situation.
“My message to other headteachers is to give it a go. We didn’t want to push it on everyone. We wanted to try it out, and the whole school took it on.
“It is carried out three times a week, alongside PE twice a week. So every day of the week, our children are walking, jogging or running a mile every day.
“It forms part of our holistic, forward-thinking approach and we will continue with it next year.”
The Daily Mile supported by the Scottish government, has been adopted by hundreds of schools across the UK and has been picked up in Holland and Belgium.
Back then, Mrs Wyllie said: “Teachers have been amazed around the country. Children come back focused and ready to learn and the class is much more settled, and because it is simple, it is sustainable.”
In Suffolk, childhood obesity rates appear to be rising in Suffolk. Last month, a Public Health England report estimated that around one in seven (17.3%) children leaving primary school are now classed as obese, compared to 16.2% five years ago.
Karen Mills, headteacher at Ravenswood Primary School in Ipswich, which has also already signed up to the Daily Mile, said every headteacher should consider taking it up.
She said: “Given the constraints of the curriculum, it is always easy to think you can’t do it. But you have to take a risk and get out there.
“It does work, in terms of helping the children concentrate and think in a different way. It is worth doing and trying to find the time to do it.
“Our children really enjoy it and the feedback is positive. They like getting outside.
“It is too early to say whether it improves attainment, but we are seeing attainment improve and it is a contributing factor.”
The Daily Mile must carried out outdoors, but not on muddy fields, and performed at least three times a week.
Abdul Razaq director of public health at Suffolk County Council, said: “The Daily Mile provides us with a fantastic opportunity to change the tide of inactivity by adopting the easy to implement programme into their school life.
“We are already well on our way in making Suffolk the most active county in England and I’m delighted about the campaign to get every school in Suffolk signed up for a healthier, happier generation of children.”
For more details about the Daily Mile scheme and resources for headteachers, visit http://thedailymile.co.uk