A cross-party child health and wellbeing group also calls for a national review of the concept of school readiness to be conducted, taking into account children’s physical skills.
And it wants to see all early-years and primary teachers and leaders trained to enable and deliver learning during playtime.
The A Fit and Healthy Childhood all-party parliamentary group has demanded a comprehensive review of the role that physical activity takes in the fight against obesity. Its report, published today, is intended as a blueprint for the form that physical activity takes during early years and primary schooling.
Physical activity boost
The group calls for sedentary and screen-based activities to be limited and recommends activities that involve standing up and moving around the classroom.
It also suggests that there could be move movement between indoor and outdoor space during lessons.
Baroness Floella Benjamin, co-chair of the group, said that the report, "Physical Activity in Early Childhood", was “timely reading in the wake of a government childhood obesity strategy that has been widely criticised for a disappointing lack of resolve and ambition”.
She added: “Patterns set up in a baby’s very first days can have lasting consequences during the course of a lifespan. But, at the moment, our government is not rising to the occasion with all the weapons at its disposal.”
Among the report’s recommendations are the following:
- A national review of the concept of school readiness, encouraging greater understanding of the importance of physical skills to ensuring a child’s overall development.
- A national-curriculum framework that endorses outdoor play and learning, with Ofsted challenging its ineffective delivery.
- The national curriculum should include examples of how physical activity can be included in the classroom, as part of traditional learning.
- The curriculum should also endorse outdoor play and active learning, with Ofsted challenging ineffective delivery.
- The Department for Education to review the PE requirements of the key stage 1 curriculum.
- Create national quality guidelines for early-years physical development and physical activity. Review Ofsted inspection requirements for this stage.
- Provide an overall health and wellbeing assessment for children starting school.
- All teachers, including headteachers, to receive a minimum of 20 hours of training, updated every five years, on enabling and delivering playtime learning.
- Physical-development checks for all children at age seven, with follow-ups dependent on outcomes.
- Widespread overhaul of the early-years and primary curriculums, regarding swimming.
- Swimming teaching and training should form part of all early-years and primary professional training, with regular updates given.
- Share information between early-years settings and primary schools, regarding individual children’s physical development and activity levels.
- Every early-years setting and primary school should aim to provide a high quality of outdoor-play provision.
- National bodies for PE and sport are to prioritise funding for children with disabilities, in order to improve access and participation.
- Schools should be offered free training, to support teachers in helping disabled children to achieve PE goals.
- Where appropriate, a proportion of the primary PE and school sports premium should be spent on targeting disabled children between the ages of five and seven, to increase physical activity throughout the day.