Schools bids to get youngsters active

A SCHOOL is tackling rising obesity rates and falling fitness levels with a major initiative which aims to improve the health and wellbeing of its students.

Annie Davidson

A SCHOOL is tackling rising obesity rates and falling fitness levels with a major initiative which aims to improve the health and wellbeing of its students.

Tendring Technology College, which has sites in Frinton-on-Sea and Thorpe-le-Soken, has launched its Get Active campaign after noticing the worrying trends over the last five years.

Initiatives being introduced at the school include fruit fairs, a weight loss challenge between two of the teachers, a diploma course for parents about healthy living and a competition to design the Get Active campaign poster.


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New rowing machines which have been bought by NHS North East Essex will also be used during PE lessons and in after school activities by both teachers and students.

The school's head of sport and community, Mark Harris, said all 1,800 students had been assessed by observation rather than weighing and measuring them.

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Pupils have been divided up into three groups, depending on their fitness levels and whether they are overweight, and will be offered a variety of activities.

The overweight children who are not active would come under the heading “get aware” with “get going” applying to pupils who are not active but do not have a weight problem and “get active” would cover students who are currently very active and motivated.

Mr Harris said: “Whilst our research shows this change is very much in line with the national picture, we decided we wanted to something positive about it rather than just accept the situation. The key to this campaign is to involve everybody within the school.”

He said teachers of all subjects, not just PE, had given the campaign their backing and had received training and a presentation from Chris French, the senior public health specialist at NHS North East Essex.

Mr Harris said he aimed to make the school's PE curriculum inclusive to pupils of all abilities and interests.

“The traditional PE activities are things like rugby and football and we want to offer an alternative to those kinds of activities,” he said.

“Some children, especially if they are not very fit, could find those sorts of things quite threatening and that could then create the situation where they opt out of PE.”

Mr Harris said teachers would also be taking part in after school fitness activities which included the use of the rowing machines and this would give a good role model to the youngsters.

“I don't think people realise what a powerful force teachers can be in encouraging young people to change their lifestyle,” he added.

“The health of the children is not just a concern for the PE department, it is the concern of the whole school.”

There are also plans to begin working with Tendring Technology College's 10 feeder primary schools to get younger children on board before they begin at the college.

Mr French said: “This is exactly the attitude we would like all schools to adopt and we will be monitoring the campaign very closely.

“Obesity is a major issue we have to tackle and the whole school approach being adopted by Tendring Technology College is, we believe, the best route to go down to achieve lasting results.”

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