Fit to Study

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





Key Stage 3

Key stage

EEF Summary

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.

Research Results


Months' Progress
Evidence Strength

Maths (FSM pupils)

Months' Progress


Were the schools in the trial similar to my school?

  • 34% of the pupils in trial were eligible for FSM
  • 19% of schools were single sex
  • On average, schools in the trial had 6.8 year 8 classes
  • 90% of the schools were in urban settings
  • 10% of the schools were in rural settings
  • 59% of schools were academies or free schools

Could I implement this in my school?

  • The programme is not available to buy
  • Teachers agreed that the intervention was better suited to particular PE activities, including team sports such as hockey, football and basketball
  • It was reported to be more difficult to implement the activities in lessons where they would ‘stand out’ more, such as gymnastics and badminton, and in those where skill development was a priority, such as athletics
  • Teachers reported the difficulties they faced delivering the intervention in lessons where space was limited, such as when focusing on sports like gymnastics or trampolining where large amounts of equipment were in use
  • Teachers described the benefits and problems associated with delivering the intervention during indoor and outdoor lessons. Indoor spaces were found to be useful for focusing pupils however, lack of space could be a challenge. Indoor delivery was reported to be easier if teaching a smaller class. Outdoors, there was more space but practical issues such as bad weather made outside delivery more challenging.


Delivered by


Whole Class

Participant group


1 Year

Intervention length

How much will it cost?

The average cost of Fit to Study for one school was around £6,600, or £4.80 per pupil per year when averaged over 3 years.



Cost per pupil



No. of Teachers/TAs


1 Day

Training time per staff member

Evaluation info





Key Stage

Key Stage 3

Start date

January 2015

End date

September 2019

Type of trial

Efficacy Trial

Evaluation Conclusions

  1. There is no evidence that Fit to Study had an impact on Year 8 pupils’ maths outcomes. This result has a low security rating.

  2. There is no evidence that Fit to Study had an impact on the maths outcomes of pupils eligible for free school meals.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  1. Updated: 26th September, 2019

    Printable project summary

    1 MB pdf - EEF-fit-to-study.pdf

  2. Updated: 26th September, 2019

    Evaluation Report

    2 MB pdf - FitToStudy.pdf

  3. Updated: 12th June, 2017

    Evaluation Protocol

    467 KB pdf - Neuroscience_-_Fit_to_Study_Trial_Protocol.pdf

  4. Updated: 11th May, 2018

    Statistical Analysis Plan

    483 KB pdf - Fit_to_Study_SAP_2018.03.15_FINAL.pdf

Full project description