Education Endowment Foundation:Physically Active Lessons

Physically Active Lessons

Bristol University
Implementation cost 
Evidence strengthNot given for this trial
Impact (months)Not given for this trial
Project info

Independent Evaluator

Queen's University Belfast logo
Queen’s University Belfast
Testing the impact of short bursts of physical activity on academic outcomes.
Schools: 5 Grant: £21,400
Key Stage: 2 Duration: 1 year(s) Type of Trial: Pilot Study
Completed January 2014

Physically Active Lessons (PAL) involves adapting lesson plans to combine short bursts of physical activity with academic content. Based on a US programme, PAL is being developed for use in a UK primary school context by a research team at the University of Bristol. The intervention aimed to increase physical activity by introducing an additional 90 minutes (minimum) per week into the teachers’ existing lessons in sessions of approximately 10 – 15 minutes twice daily, Monday to Friday; and to boost attainment levels through improved cognitive function and the consolidation of children’s learning. The project was co-funded by Nike inc. as part of the Designed to Move’ initiative.

Existing research suggests that incorporating moderate to vigorous activity into classroom lessons can improve academic achievement; however, the evidence for this is weak and mixed. How such a programme might work to improve academic outcomes for children is also not well understood. The study had two aims: (1) to explore the feasibility of adapting a programme of physical activity and implementing it in the classroom setting, and (2) to explore the feasibility of a future, large-scale trial to provide a proper, robust test of the impact of the programme in improving attainment.


Is the approach feasible?


Both teachers and children embraced the programme enthusiastically. The programme required a lot of additional work from teachers and consequently teacher enthusiasm began to fade.

Is the approach ready for a full trial?


More work is needed to develop the programme before it is ready to be tested using a full trial.