Education Endowment Foundation:Physically Active Lessons

Physically Active Lessons

Bristol University
Independent Evaluator
Queen’s University Belfast
Testing the impact of short bursts of physical activity on academic outcomes.
Schools 5 Grant £21,400
Key Stage 1 Duration 1 year(s) Type of Trial Pilot Study
Completed Jan 2014

This project will introduce an additional 90 minutes per week of physical activity into primary school lessons, in sessions of 10 – 15 minutes. The intervention is designed to compound learning, with the activity itself very simple and appropriate for delivery within or outside the classroom. Activities include skipping whilst reciting times tables or playing freeze tag’ where you must answer a question correctly to be unfrozen. The project will include some developmental work to adapt the activities to suit the UK context, before exploring the feasibility of delivery with a small number of schools.

The idea that physical activity would have an impact on academic attainment is an idea that has some promising early evidence to support it; it would therefore be interesting to test the feasibility of applying this approach within UK classrooms. Two randomised controlled trials have been conducted of a similar approach in the US and both resulted in positive effects on attainment and also health measures. The intervention is well defined, with clear instructions for the different activities and minimal training required for teachers.

This project is co-funded by Nike inc. as part of the Designed to Move’ initiative.

The evaluation will be run by a team from Queens University and structured as a feasibility trial, testing teachers’ willingness to incorporate these activities within their lessons and ensuring that the activities are easy and practical to deliver. The evaluation is set up as a pilot study. Pilot studies aim to explore an intervention’s feasibility and develop the approach in a small number of schools. Although the main focus of the evaluation is to assess feasibility a small impact evaluation will also be carried out, this will provide indicative, although not robust, data to assess the likely impact of the intervention.

If results from the feasibility study are positive the EEF could test the approach as a randomised controlled trial.

To view the project protocol click here.