Fit to Study aimed to boost academic attainment by increasing the amount of physical activity undertaken by Year 8 children in PE lessons. The intervention required teachers to include two key activities in every PE lesson:
1. Four minutes of vigorous physical activity during the warm-up at the start of each lesson
2. Three ‘fitness infusions’ throughout the lesson which consist of two minutes of intense physical activity
There has been increasing interest in increasing pupils’ participation in physical activity and previous studies have suggested this could lead to improved cognition and academic attainment. The EEF and Wellcome funded this study to find out whether this result could be repeated in English schools
Our trial involved 104 schools and 8,707 pupils. The independent evaluation found no evidence that Fit to Study had an impact on the measure of attainment chosen for the trial, Year 8 pupils’ maths outcomes
This result is rated as low security: 1 out of 5 on the EEF padlock scale. This because almost half the pupils that started the trial were not included in the final analysis. The evaluation reports that schools struggled to implement Fit to Study and attendance at the training was poor
It is important to note this result does not disprove the link between physical activity and academic attainment. This project was designed to test one particular programme which aimed to enable PE teachers to consistently provide intensive physical activity within lesson time
The EEF has no plans for a further trial of Fit to Study.
- There is no evidence that Fit to Study had an impact on Year 8 pupils’ maths outcomes. This result has a low security rating.
- There is no evidence that Fit to Study had an impact on the maths outcomes of pupils eligible for free school meals.
- Generally, PE teachers struggled to implement Fit to Study as intended in each PE lesson as required.Implementation was difficult in lessons where skill development was a priority or large amounts of equipment were in use.
- Attendance at the initial face-to-face training was poor. Furthermore, training participants felt that the content of the training should focus less on theoretical aspects and more on how the intervention should be delivered in PE lessons and how delivery challenges can be addressed. Teachers reported that there were instances where Fit to Study disrupted lesson flow.
- Despite the implementation issues experienced by teachers, the majority of schools said they would recommend Fit to Study as a way to promote physical exercise.