Physically active learning in schools

Physically active learning in schools

Primary school aged children spend the majority of their waking hours at school where between 50-70% of time is spent sitting, particularly in the classroom.

NCSEM-EM researchers from three of our partner universities, Leicester, Loughborough and Nottingham, are investigating whether getting pupils to move around more in class could encourage them to sit less and improve their learning experience.

The team are working with Year 5 teachers and their pupils in seven Leicestershire schools on the CLASS PAL (Physically Active Learning) project to help them incorporate ‘physically active learning’ into their daily lessons.


Working in collaboration with teachers and the Youth Sport Trust (YST), the project has developed a training workshop for teachers and a website with a range of supporting resources.

Physically active lessons (delivering curriculum topics through movement) and physically active breaks have been shown to have positive impacts in the classroom and on educational outcomes. However, little is known about the science of implementing this into routine teaching practice.

It has been really interesting to see how teaching through physical activities has impacted on the children’s learning. It has been especially effective for those who find the more formal methods of schooling difficult. Active learning is now something that is embedded in my daily teaching.

Sally Gambles, Year 2 teacher

An early pilot was carried out in Leicestershire schools over the past year to understand how teachers can best implement active learning and movement breaks in class.

Dr Lauren Sherar from Loughborough University’s School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences and the NCSEM-EM is the lead investigator for the project. She said: “Schools have a unique opportunity to change the modern culture of sitting, by introducing active breaks and teaching through movement.”


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