Don’t remain seated: Bradford school teaches kids standing up

Children at Grove House Primary school in Bradford using desks that can be used sitting or standing.  Pictures: Ross Parry Agency

Children at Grove House Primary school in Bradford using desks that can be used sitting or standing. Pictures: Ross Parry Agency

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A BRADFORD school has become the first in Europe to teach pupils while they’re standing up.

The year five students are being taught in a classroom not sitting at desks - but on their feet behind them.

Children at Grove House Primary school in Bradford using desks that can be used sitting or standing.  Pictures: Ross Parry Agency

Children at Grove House Primary school in Bradford using desks that can be used sitting or standing. Pictures: Ross Parry Agency

Nine and ten-year-olds from Grove House Primary School are taking part in a seven-week pilot run by medical researchers Born in Bradford.

The scheme will see pupils take it in turn to stand behind six desks while the others sit down as usual.

Each student will spend a carefully calculated 230 minutes standing each week.

The trial is designed to assess the impact sitting for long periods of time has on concentration - and what effects it can have on childrens’ health.

The trial has so far only been used in schools in Australia - and Grove House Primary is thought to be the first school in Europe using the desks.

Teacher Hannah Rogers, 28, said: “The pupils have been so excited to take part in this experiment and they absolutely love it.

“We’ve only been doing it two weeks in my class and already I can see an improvement.

“I’ve got a very active class and I think they’re really responding to having more freedom, it keeps them focused.

“They’re working better, their concentration is better, and when given the option, they want to continue standing rather than going back to sitting.

“It doesn’t seem to be limited to certain lessons as it seems to be working for everything, maths, English, even using a laptop.

“And I’m glad that the excitement of the experiment has sown them that scientists aren’t boring for stuffy - science can be fun, like this.”

The year group of 55 pupils whose parents gave permission for them to take part in the study was divided into two - with the first half using the standing desks for seven weeks from February to Easter half term, while the second half started using the desks after Easter for another seven weeks.

During the experiment the pupils are being monitored in two ways - with an actigraph accelerator, a red box worn on the waist like a pedometer to monitor how much physical activity is carried out.

Secondly, with an actipal activity monitor, a small patch stuck to the thigh, which measures whether the pupils is standing or sitting.

Their weight, height, blood pressure, waist circumference and fine motor skills were also taken.

The results of these will be compared at the end of the study.

Dr Sally Barber, principal research fellow at Born in Bradford, explained: “The idea is two-fold. Firstly, we want to see whether we can change pupils’ behaviour.

“We know if you can establish healthy lifestyles early in life, that can be continued into adulthood.

“So a less sedentary lifestyle while you’re a child means less sedentary adults.

“There have also been studies which show that conditions like diabetes are affected by sitting for long periods of time.

“Secondly, sitting for a long period of time has been shown to have a negative impact on children in terms of concentration and behaviour. We want to see if this study will change that. “

Born in Bradford, a social study looking at a number of babies born in the city after 2007, is working with Loughborough University on the standing learning project.

Dr Barber told that the idea came from a school in Australia, which has now secured funding to roll out the trial over a number of schools in the country - proving its “feasibility”.

“The idea is used in a school in Australia, New Zealand and one in Texas, America - but as far as we know it’s not been done anywhere else in Europe,” she said.

The desks, which van be raised and lowered with a handle, have been donated by a company called Egotron.

Dr Barber, who is working with four others on the study, said the hoped to have results of this first study by mid-September.

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