Westgate Community Primary School
- Where we’re based: Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, England
- School roll: 380
- A description of our school: Westgate is a primary school (age 3-11) serving an area in the west of Bury St Edmunds. We currently have 375 pupils on roll (including a nursery). The school has recently transformed from first school to full primary under the aegis of Suffolk’s School Organisational Review and this year we have had our first cohort of Year 6 pupils. The school catchment is very mixed, we have pupils coming from a range of backgrounds including significant pockets of deprivation. 25.2% of our pupils are are classified as disadvantaged. The proportion of pupils with SEN is high, including an above average number of pupils with Statements of SEN largely due to the school including a specialist unit for Hearing Impaired Pupils.
- Children in school doing The Daily Mile: The whole school, including nursery
- Where we run: The school grounds, playground and field
- Month/year we started The Daily Mile: September 2016
Why we started The Daily Mile
School sport has always been a priority and I believe the quality of provision at our school is good and supplemented by a wide range of extra-curricular opportunities, competitions, etc. However, there is an increasing gap between those pupils really engaged in school sport, and often sport within the community, and those that really are only active during PE lessons in terms of their general health and fitness and, in some cases, weight. This was particularly noticeable in mass participation events such as Great School Run, GO Run For Fun, etc.
We have engaged in other projects such as bike ability and walk to school projects and these have often had a short-term impact. But I was looking to instil something that would have a more lasting impact on the health and fitness of all pupils.
How We Began
Our target audience was all pupils in school but with an extra emphasis on those not engaged in PE. I felt it was right to start at the start of a new school year and so we waited for September to launch it. However I did plant the seed of the idea in the minds of staff earlier. A strategically left article in the staff room, and then a “coming soon” poster. A link to the dailymile.co.uk on the board.
I registered our school with The Daily Mile; their website had a lot of advice about implementing this and a useful FAQ’s section. Next step was to recruit some advocates/ambassadors – staff I knew would be receptive and enthused. Preparation was minimal. A simple risk assessment for the course was completed. We set an official launch date of the 29th September but my ambassador classes started running from day one of the term.
Prior to launch, we eased people in gently with the expectation that they would head out twice a week. After the 29th it was to be daily. Letters went out to parents explaining what we were doing and why. A press release went out for the 29th launch date. As with anything, some staff were reticent. I haven’t obliged staff to participate personally but most are joining in even if they walk the course.
How We Do The Daily Mile
The premise is simple: 15 minutes‘ daily activity. They can run, walk, hop as long as they are out and moving. The mile is aspirational; some pupils run further, some are not yet completing a mile but 15 minutes activity daily is guaranteed.
Flexibility is key. Staff can head out at any point in the day and at different times on different days. For KS2 it is often a natural break in the middle of a long afternoon. Some classes start or end the day with a mile. If the weather is inclement it can be a case of dodging the showers.
The pupils don’t change – this was one of the few issues raised by parents – however they don’t change for break times! Start to finish it takes 15 minutes out of the day and for staff it is as easy as opening a door.
Benefits We’ve Noticed
The Daily Mile is amazingly easy to implement and four weeks in for some of our pupils, we are already noticing a change in their fitness levels and their stamina. Anecdotal evidence seems to suggest that an active break will have an impact on behaviour and progress within the classroom too. As yet we haven’t come up with a good way to measure that.
“Its beauty is its simplicity and the fact that it targets every single pupil in the school. It is worth stating this is not a PE or school sport initiative but a health and well-being one! Start to finish it takes 15 minutes out of the day and for staff it is as easy as opening a door.” – Jim Cleaver, Headteacher
“When your brain gets a bit stuffy, The Daily Mile wakes you up.” – Year 2 pupil
“We have a good chat but at the same time we are getting exercise.” – Year 6 pupil
“I think it helps me with my fitness for other things, like when I play football.” – Year 4 pupil