Former Yorkshire head teachers on a mission to help children through the power of physical activity

Two former Yorkshire school leaders have joined forces to support UK schools, helping them tackle the physical and emotional impact of lockdown on children.

Between them Bryn Llewellyn and Ian Holmes have more than 40 years of working in the education sector and the pair are aiming to pool their expertise and help as many children across the region through the power of physical activity.

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The Yorkshire-based education innovators have been supporting more than 30 schools across the region for a number of years by integrating movement into traditional curriculum lessons.

Pictured Year Five pupils at The Academy at St James, a primary school, in Bradford, taking part in a programme to support UK schools, helping them tackle the physical and emotional impact of lockdown on children. performance. Photo credit: James Hardisty/JPIMedia Resell

But due to “worrying” amount of children and young people who do not meet the recommended government daily guidelines for the amount of time taking part in sport and physical activity the pair have upped their efforts.

The duo run Move & Learn, a Harrogate-based community interest company helping teachers bring more physical activity into the classroom.

Figures released earlier this year from Sport England’s latest Active Lives Children and Young People Survey covering the 2019/20 academic year, showed 44.9 per cent of children and young people (3.2 million) met the Chief Medical Officer guidelines of taking part in sport and physical activity for an average of 60 minutes or more a day.

This represents a decrease of 1.9 per cent (86,500) compared to the same period 12 months ago.

Pictured, former Yorkshire head teachers Bryn Llewellyn (left) and Ian Holmes. The pair have more than 40 years of working in the education sector and are aiming to pool their expertise and help as many children across the region through the power of physical activity. Photo credit: Submitted picture

While Mr Holmes highlighted in the region Bradford has more than 70 per cent of children who aren’t reaching the physical activity requirements.

“Even before the pandemic, insufficient opportunities to be active have meant that our children are losing out in terms of physical health, mental health and even just the joy of learning through methods that don’t require you to sit still," said Mr Holmes, 44, who was the headteacher at Thorner Primary School in Leeds from 2015 to September last year.

He added: “It’s no surprise that we are seeing increasing numbers of children leaving school classified as obese or overweight.”

Mr Llewellyn, 56, a former deputy head at Bowling Park Primary School in Bradford, said: “The classroom hasn’t really changed since the Victorian age, where children sat for long periods.

Pupils from The Academy at St James, a primary school in Bradford, incorporating a maths lesson with pysical activity. Former Yorkshire head teachers Bryn Llewellyn and Ian Holmes have been working with the school for two years to increase movement into the school's lessons. Photo credit: James Hardisty/JPIMediaResell

“At a time of change across the world, we are leading the way in a global movement. It’s time to get moving - and learning.”

One of the schools in Bradford to benefit from the duo’s help over the past two years is The Academy St James, a primary schools based in Allerton.

Chris Tolson, Head Teacher at St James Academy in Bradford, said the school has placed a "vital" emphasis on physical activity due to the "isolating" time many families have faced due to a year of disruption since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

He said: "Obesity rates are highest in deprived areas such as Bradford, which is a huge concern. I’m eager to encourage a positive, empowering approach to learning after such a despondent, isolating time that has left many families so fatigued. We need to be re-energised."

Niall O’brien the physical education lead at the school added: "We are well aware that children’s obesity levels and anxiety has increased markedly in lockdown.

"We are huge advocates for physical active learning and we are aiming for every child to benefit from physical active enrichment."

Steps taken by the school include children having access to bicycles, archery and the schools nature reserve while every class in school will be outside every Friday afternoon.

Mr Llewellyn and Mr Holmes will also share their work, aspirations and research at the World Education summit, which runs until Thursday 25 with a global audience of school leaders.

Mr Llewellyn, set up Tagtiv8 is a Wakefield-based company in 2012 to combat the concerns of teachers that students were sitting for far too long in schools.

The award-winning organisation has worked with teachers and children to develop physically active learning games and to date, it has worked with 70,000 children and teachers across seven countries.

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