Go Well Blog

4 ways to boost concentration skills with physical activity

A survey has found that most primary school teachers think children’s attention spans are getting shorter and classroom behaviour has deteriorated since before the Covid pandemic. 

So, what can you do to help your pupils to build up their attention spans?

Use physical activity to boost concentration

Studies have shown that children who are physically active have better attention spans than those who are not. 

Researchers discovered that students who took part in moderate physical exercise before taking a test that measured their attention spans performed better than those students who didn’t exercise.

Young people with higher levels of fitness also demonstrate superior concentration when compared with less fit children.

How does exercise improve attention span?

Having a regular physical activity routine helps build the brain’s ability to ignore distractions. Exercise also helps to increase blood flow to the brain. This in turn fires up your neurones and promotes cell growth, particularly in the hippocampus. Being active releases endorphins too, which have mood-boosting effects and can help to reduce stress and anxiety. All these factors can help boost attention spans.

A good night’s sleep is also essential for cognitive function. Exercise and being active improves sleep quality, meaning children are more likely to arrive at school rested and refreshed. 

How active do children need to be to improve attention span?

The amount of physical activity needed to improve attention span varies from child to child. However, most experts, including the Chief Medical Officer, recommend that children get at least 60 minutes of moderate-to- vigorous physical activity each day. This doesn’t need to be completed all in one go. Breaking it down to short active bursts throughout the day and encouraging children to be active outside of school makes this goal achievable. 

Just 20 minutes of exercise before studying can improve concentration and help children focus on learning. 

4 ways to improve attention span:

  • Add active bursts to the day. Short bouts of moderate physical activity have been proved to boost concentration and mood immediately following the exercise. 
  • Shake up the timetable. Consider adjusting the timetable so subjects requiring more thought or greater concentration levels take place after a break period and encourage active play during playtime so children arrive back in class reinvigorated and ready to learn.
  • Join a team. As well as building teamworking skills, there is some evidence that exercise which requires decision making can have added benefits in terms of building concentration as the brain is engaged during these kinds of activities. So team games like football and netball could be particularly beneficial.
  • Try mindfulness. Researchers have found that just 10 minutes of meditation a day can help improve focus and extend attention span and you can see improvements after just four days.

More information

Add active bursts to the school day with Fit for Life

Try out Team Up to help children manage their wellbeing

Go Well Blog

10 steps for sports day success 

Sports day…eagerly looked forward to by many, it can also be dreaded by others, including you. How can you make sure it is a day to remember for everyone, for all the right reasons?

A break from the usual school day, sports days can be a really rewarding experience. By choosing the activities carefully, you can help to build teamwork and cooperation, with children supporting and encouraging each other. It can boost confidence and provide an opportunity to develop social skills. Bringing the whole school together also helps foster school spirit and pride, and, of course it is a great way to promote and encourage physical activity.  

However, organising the event can feel daunting – being responsible for delivering an event involving multiple classes and possibly parents and teachers…Here we outline our 10 steps for success.

10 steps for a successful sports day

  1. Set the date and time well in advance. Check the school calendar to make sure there are no clashes and the date works for everyone involved – teachers, pupils and parents. Decide how long it will last and what role your colleagues and parents will play – will they participate, supervise, spectate only?
  2. Decide on what you want to achieve from the event. Is it a celebration of physical activity and personal achievement or do you want to unite your school and encourage pupils to work together? Setting an objective will help you organise your plan for the day.
  3. Decide on the activities. Reflect on your objective for the day and choose activities that will best help you achieve your goal. Consider involving pupils in choosing a theme and/or deciding on what activities to include. 
  4. Decide how teams will be formed. Will you divide pupils into teams or will you allocate that task to a student group, perhaps with some guidance? Make sure each team has a mix of abilities and talents.
  5. Consider how you will recognise success. Is it first past the post or are there rewards for effort, contribution, teamwork, creativity? Who will decide on the winners? How will you recognise success – certificates, medals?
  6. Assign responsibilities. Who will be present – teachers, parents, volunteers? Who will be able to assist and how? Could they help to set up the venue or activity stations? What about managing the different activities so the event works in carousel form? Who will provide first aid or supervise groups/teams as they move between activity stations or wait for their turn?
  7. Plan the day. What will happen when? What is the order of activities? How long do you need to allow for each event? By setting out your timings you will ensure you allow sufficient time, children won’t be hanging around getting bored and you (and they) won’t be rushing.
  8. Plan for safety. Ensure you have a nominated first aider, and that everyone knows who this is and where they will be during the event. If you are allowing parents on site for the event, make sure they know where they need to stand/sit and if there are any areas that are out of bounds. 
  9. Consider the weather. Do you need a wet weather option – either a scaled back event that takes place in the school hall or fewer/shorter activities outside? If it’s hot, do you have water readily available? Make sure children arrive prepared with sunblock and hats.
  10. Promote the event. Posters in school, announcements in assembly, reminders during classes, practice days…these all help to create excitement and encourage everyone to get involved.

Sports day is a special moment in the school calendar. As well as being a chance to show that there is more to school life than academic success, it gives children who struggle to achieve elsewhere the chance to shine. But most importantly, it is an opportunity for a school to live out its values.

Further information

Your School Games

Twinkl sports day resources and decoration ideas

Go Well Blog

How to encourage children to be active

It was disheartening to read that just 53% of six-year-olds are doing 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day. The figures for girls are even worse – fewer than half of six-year-old girls meet this target.

The Chief Medical Officers recommend that children are physically active for on average 60 minutes per day across the week. Being active every day provides a foundation for a healthier and happier life. Regular strength and balance activities are as important as cardiovascular activities. Being strong makes all movement easier and increases our ability to perform regular daily tasks. 

This 60 minutes doesn’t need (and shouldn’t) all be achieved at school. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity in school (Active 30) and encourage your pupils to be active for a further 30 minutes outside of school This approach means being active becomes part of daily life.

Though it is important for children to minimise the amount of time spent sitting or being sedentary – long periods of not moving should be broken up with at least light physical activity. And children should also take part in a variety of different types of physical activity. This helps to develop movement skills, muscular fitness and bone strength.

What does moderate to vigorous physical activity mean?

Being active in any way provides health benefits however the more intense this activity is, the bigger the benefits for the same amount of time. As the intensity of the activity increases our heart rate, breathing rate and energy consumption increase further.

To understand if an activity is moderate or vigorous, try the ‘talk test’ – if you can talk but not sing whilst doing the activity, it is a moderate-intensity activity. If you have difficulty talking without pausing, this means it is a vigorous activity.

Moderate activities include walking and cycling. Vigorous activities include playing football, dancing or skipping. Sprinting, weightlifting, and press-ups are classed as very vigorous activities. 

What can I do to encourage children to be more active?

As we head into the autumn and winter, with darker nights and colder weather, it can be more challenging to be active every day. Here are five ideas to support and encourage children to move more:

  1. Active travel – encourage pupils to walk, scoot or bike to school (the first week in October is Cycle to School Week). This is an easy way to incorporate more activity into the standard day.
  2. Go for a swim, play football, dance, climb – many pools have fun or social swimming sessions and there are multiple sports clubs and groups in your community, share details of these with your classes or put posters up on your PE noticeboard. 
  3. 10 minute shake-up – Start the day with a Change for Life 10 minute shake-up game or encourage pupils add it to their day when they get home from school. 
  4. Take part in our 10th anniversary Deathlon – try out 10 different sports or activities over the course of a month, spending at least 30 minutes on each activity.
  5. Introduce active bursts – break up the school day with bursts of activity (before lessons, during lessons, at the end of lessons…). We created Fit for Life to give schools everything you need to make being active part of the whole school day.

Remember, you don’t have to start big. Small changes can make a big difference over time. Help children to gradually increase their activity levels so it becomes something sustainable rather than setting up plans and goals that no one will stick to or reach.

You always feel better for being active. We want as many people as possible to protect their future health and start their journey to a healthier life now.

More information on encouraging physical activity:

6 ways to integrate physical activity into the school day

Active Ted can help schools and parents achieve Active 30:30

The benefits of having PESSPA at the heart of the school

Chief Medical Officers Physical Activity Guidelines

Go Well Blog

PE – more than keeping fit

Do you find PE, school sport and physical activity generally come off ‘second best’ at your school? Lessons or activities are cancelled to make way for school photo shoots, plays, exams or tests…

While many people understand the benefits of being active in terms of our physical health, less well understood are the wider benefits and how PESSPA can be used to help children to develop key skills and values. These wide-ranging benefits are often overlooked and there are few schools that capitalise on the full potential that PE offers as an educational tool.

What are the wider benefits of PE?

A subject frequently dominated by traditional sports such as football, netball and athletics; teams and fixtures, there can be a limited understanding amongst the school staff team as to the wider benefits of PE.

PE can support all-round development, from intellectual to emotional. Children learn how to negotiate, collaborate, compromise, make decisions, lead and communicate. PESSPA also supports resilience and determination. 

How to overcome challenges, plan, set goals, adapt, assess and manage risks can all be learned, developed and practised through PE.

3 ways to use physical activity to support personal development 

Here are three activities that you can use to support personal development in your school:

Teamwork, collaboration and leadership: Divide the class into groups and give each group the task of creating their own game, physical activity routine or exercise session. As well as working together to decide on the structure of the game or activity, they would need to decide on rules, what equipment is needed and plan how they will explain and deliver the session. 

Empathy and kindness: Have the group form a circle (or two circles if a large group), players must pass the ball across the group to someone. The person throwing the ball must say something kind about the person they are throwing to. Everyone must be passed the ball and the ball must continue to move so there is limited time to think. 

Self-motivation, determination and resilience: Set a series of short challenges or activities eg squats, burpees, lunges, torso twists. Start a timer and each child counts how many of each activity they can do in 3 minutes. They record their results and repeat the challenges weekly to see if they can perform more repetitions in the 3 minutes. 

Further information

Go Well Blog

Could gamification help more children be active?

As teachers and coaches, we are always looking for new ways to engage children in learning and activity. How and the way we teach is constantly evolving, even in PE. 

While we don’t want to jump on to every new bandwagon that comes along, there are some trends that are worth exploring further, such as gamification.

What is gamification and how does it work in PE?

Rest assured, it isn’t about sitting playing video games! Gamification is an educational approach that looks to motivate students by harnessing the elements of video games that make these games so engaging, and applying them to learning. The intention is to capture interest and inspire children to get involved.

Some children thrive on traditional games such as football, netball or cricket, but there are many who struggle to enjoy PE or physical activity. Gamification could be a way to capture their interest and inspire them to be active.

How can gamification of PE lessons help your students?

Children are spending increasing amounts of time gaming. Rather than competing with this, incorporating elements of video games into your PE lessons and physical activities can help make these sessions relatable, it can help your pupils make connections. They are also more likely to get excited about something that replicates an area of their life that they enjoy. 

Studies have shown that gamification can greatly increase motivation and engagement. It can reduce disruptive behaviour and encourage children and adolescents to be more active.

How can you introduce gamification into PE and physical activities?

Setting a challenge where players (pupils) need to make choices to overcome the challenge, collecting items, exploring, achieving mini-goals, these are all ways to introduce gamification into your lesson. 

At the simplest level, gamification includes games such as throwing bean bags at a target or ‘tag’ running games. For a game to feel satisfying it needs some sort of challenge – a goal or objective. More complex games could have players constantly re-evaluating the best choice for any given situation or basing activities on popular video games such as the Marvel universe of superheroes.

A great example is our exciting new PE Escape Room coaching day. During the event, children will need to solve mental and physical puzzles to be freed.

Adding tech to PE and physical activity

Tech aimed at exciting pupils and encouraging them to be active is another way to introduce gamification to your lessons. 

Wearables, smart technologies etc can provide new opportunities to keep children engaged. Our new OAA activities and Wellbeing Walks incorporate dynamic QR codes. When scanned, these codes will unlock an additional piece of information, a task or an activity for children to complete.

Gamification can be an exciting way to reimagine physical education in a post-pandemic world and could help support and encourage more young people to lead healthy and active lifestyles.

Get in touch to find out more about how our programmes can help engage even the most reluctant of pupils in PE and physical activity. 

More information

Research: Exploring the benefits of using gamification and videogames for physical exercise

TES article: Can video games help to boost PE engagement?

Go Well Blog

Why should PE be a core subject?

Think back to 2012; what comes to mind? The chances are it’s the London Olympics. The last time we had held the Games before this was in 1948. It really was something to celebrate – remember Super Saturday? It seemed that the whole country had gone sport crazy.

Conversely, 2012 is also the year that funding for school PE was slashed. Worried about the future of PE and the pressures teachers were facing, we set up a social enterprise to work with schools to help inspire children and to build healthy active futures. 

It was a really tricky time, but we survived. In fact, our service grew and we now work with schools across England, helping to engage thousands of pupils in sport and physical activity every year.

Fast forward ten years; we’re celebrating our 10th birthday; the House of Lords has recommended that PE becomes a core subject in its National Plan for Sport and Recreation and former children’s minister, Edward Timpson has led a Westminster Hall debate on the subject. 

How times have changed!

Physical education is just as important as any other school subject

We firmly believe that PE should have the same status in schools as English, Maths and Science. Why? 

High-quality PE is more than ‘just playing games or running around’. It impacts on a child’s physical, moral, social, emotional, cultural and intellectual development. While it can be a stress-reliever and provide respite from classroom-based learning, it also provides pupils with meaningful learning experiences. 

PE squeezed from the curriculum

Department for Education guidance recommends that schools provide pupils with a minimum of two hours PE per week. However, as this is only a recommendation. It is up to schools to determine how much time should be spent teaching PE. This means we often see PE being squeezed from the curriculum. Pressures on schools to hit academic targets means that PE can be marginalised for additional Maths and English support and PE space is often compromised and made inaccessible for school plays, exams etc. 

The many benefits of high-quality PE

Elevating PE to core subject status would increase appreciation of the subject, ensuring it is valued as much as reading, writing and maths. Another benefit from regular high-quality PE lessons is that it helps children to develop an interest in being active, which is essential for ensuring long-term active lifestyles, which in turn will reduce the burden on the NHS.

Alongside these, there is evidence that regular physical activity raises academic performance as following a bout of physical activity you are more alert and open to learning new things, problem solving and retaining information. 

Looking to the future

We are delighted to be celebrating our 10th birthday and are so thankful to all the schools we have worked with over the past decade for putting their trust in us. While no one can predict the future, we are hopeful that the importance of PE and the need to help children to build healthy active futures will continue to grow. 

One thing we can say for certain is that we will remain committed to creating and delivering innovative educational programmes that improve wellness and inspire children to be more active more often.

Go Well Blog

Six Dimensions of Wellness – pt 4 Occupational Wellness

Welcome to our fourth blog exploring the Six Dimensions of Wellness. Each of the six areas, or ‘dimensions’, contribute to our overall wellness – physical, social, intellectual, spiritual, emotional and occupational. These areas complement each other to provide a well-balanced, vital and prosperous life.

New year, new start?

The start of the year can often be a time when we re-evaluate our lives. Many people take it as an opportunity for a fresh start or to make a change in their work-life – a new job, career or industry.

While our jobs no longer dictate our names (Blacksmith, Potter, Mason, Tailor and so on), they are still often a major part of our identity. Often one of the first questions we ask when we meet someone new is, “What do you do?”.

A person’s profession or job can be a defining detail of who they are, providing clues as to their values, interests or background. So, having a job or career that is personally meaningful, and that brings us happiness or satisfaction, is important.

What is ‘occupational wellness’?

The Six Dimensions of Wellness are a guide to help us achieve balance in all areas of our lives. The occupational dimension recognises the personal satisfaction and enrichment that we achieve through our work. Our attitude to our job or career has a crucial impact on our lives, occupational wellness is being able to achieve a balance between work and leisure time, addressing workplace stress and building successful relationships with our colleagues.

According to Dr Hettler, who devised the Six Dimensions of Wellness, it is better to choose a career which is consistent with your own personal values, interests and beliefs. To find this, we need to explore various career opportunities until we discover one that fits.

As our job or profession encompasses so much of our time, it is essential that it brings us joy and fulfilment. When we are doing something that we love, it deepens our sense of meaning and purpose.

Your choice of profession, job satisfaction, career ambitions and personal performance are all important components of occupational wellness. As is using your skills and talents in a role that is both personally meaningful and rewarding.

Getting involved, taking part, learning something new and developing new skills is far better than remaining inactive or uninvolved.

How to know when you have achieved occupational wellness

  • Do you enjoy going to work most days?
  • Do you have a manageable workload?
  • Do you feel that you can talk to your manager and colleagues when problems arise?
  • Does what you do make you feel satisfied?

If you answered ‘No’ to any of these questions, it may mean you need to look at that area of your occupational wellness to see what could be enhanced or improved.

How can you develop your occupational wellness?

  • Explore different career options, especially those that involve taking opportunities you enjoy and that suit you best.
  • Look for, and take advantage of, the chance to learn something new along with opportunities to develop new skills.
  • Use your skills and talents in a way that is personally meaningful and rewarding.
  • Explore both work and volunteer opportunities in areas you are interested in to enhance your personal satisfaction.
  • Develop positive relationships with colleagues. We can’t all get along all of the time, so it is also important to learn how to practise open communication and effective conflict management.
  • Aim to find a satisfying balance between the financial fulfilment and the personal accomplishment and happiness from the work that you choose to do.

Further reading:

Go Well Blog

The six dimensions of wellness pt 3 – Social Wellness

Welcome to our third blog in our series exploring the six dimensions of wellness. Being ‘healthy’ isn’t just being illness or disease-free; good health encompasses our physical, mental and social wellbeing. Practising positive habits every day will help us to achieve optimum health and wellness.

What is social wellness?

The social dimension of wellness is how we connect with others and the part we play in our local community – the relationships we have and how we interact with others. Positive and satisfying relationships are fundamental to our physical and emotional health.

We are living through a time where non-face-to-face interactions have grown substantially. We spend more time interacting with people digitally and as a consequence, we are becoming more isolated. Social connections and interactions affect our brain health and numerous studies have shown the better our relationships, the longer and happier our lives are.

Feeling part of something bigger than we are is also important to our social wellness. Being ‘socially well’ means playing an active part in the world around you, actively making this world a better place by caring for the environment, enabling important relationships and friendships to flourish.

It also means believing that contributing to the common good – our community – is better than thinking only of ourselves, and that it is better to live in harmony with others and nature.

Social wellness involves developing positive interpersonal skills, growing a strong support network and playing an active role in your community.

What can you do to develop your ‘social wellness’?

  • Talk to friends and family regularly – make an effort to keep in touch and check in on those in your support network. Be there when they need you and they will be there for you when you need them.
  • Get involved in school, work or other community activities – being part of a community unites us, it makes us feel as though we are part of something greater than ourselves. It gives us an opportunity to connect with people, to work towards a goal and it makes us feel safe and secure.
  • Learn about the social issues in your community – understand the challenges your community faces and ask yourself what you can do to help.
  • Deal with conflict respectfully – as we have discussed in previous blogs, conflict isn’t always a bad thing; the world would be a less exciting or interesting place if we all agreed all the time. However, how we respond to conflict is the crucial point. Nurturing your communication skills, practising active listening and looking at our body language can all help to manage conflict positively.

Further information:

Find out more about the six dimensions of wellness at the National Wellness Institute

Read our previous blogs on the subject: Pt 1 – Physical Wellness and Pt 2 – Emotional Wellness

Go Well Blog

Six Dimensions of Wellness – pt 2: Emotional Wellness

It is International Stress Awareness Week and therefore, a very relevant moment to return to the Six Dimensions of Wellness.

A number of studies over the past year (since lockdowns began) have noted that people are experiencing significantly more stress, anxiety and depression. Women and young people have been found to be the most affected.

Understanding wellness and the different elements of our lifestyle that contribute to it, will help you make healthy choices each day and support your pupils to do the same.

Six areas, or ‘dimensions’, make up overall wellness – physical, social, intellectual, spiritual, emotional and occupational – these complement each other to provide a well-balanced, vital and prosperous life.

What is ‘emotional wellness’?

In our first blog we looked at physical wellness – eating well, sleeping well and exercising regularly. In this blog, we will explore emotional wellness; the awareness of, and the acceptance of a wide range of feelings in yourself.

We all experience emotions. Successful emotional wellness is your ability to recognise, accept and manage your feelings. To do this, we need to reflect on how we feel, accept these feelings rather than deny them and know when to ask for help.

Being aware of and understanding your emotions and also respecting how other people feel is crucial to being ‘emotionally well’. This empathy and understanding will help you to develop relationships with other people that are based on a foundation of trust and respect. You will be able to take on challenges, take risks and recognise that conflict can be healthy.

Emotional wellness follows these two principles:

  • It is better to be aware of and accept our feelings than to deny them.
  • It is better to have a positive, rather than a pessimistic, approach to situations and challenges.

How can you support your pupils to develop emotional wellness?

Teach healthy ways to relieve stress.

  • Take a deep breath – stress often causes us to take short shallow breaths. Take a moment to slow down and breathe in through your nose and slowly exhale through your mouth as you count to 10.
  • Find a friend – a good way to beat loneliness, sadness or boredom (all of which make us stressed) is to be with someone else.
  • Talk about it – bottled up emotions cause stress. Sharing how you feel with someone else can help clear your mind. Make sure your pupils know who they can go to if they need to talk; either a teacher or teaching assistant, or maybe a nominated buddy in an older class.

Teach children that positive thoughts can make a difference.

Approaching a challenge or problem with a positive mindset means you think the best is going to happen, not the worst. What can we do to help develop a positive attitude?

  • Surround ourselves with positive people – negative people can increase our stress levels and make us doubt our ability. Make sure we have positive, supportive people who we can depend on for helpful feedback and advice in our lives.
  • Follow a healthy lifestyle – exercise positively affects our mood and reduces stress. Aim to exercise for about 60 minutes a day, this can be broken up into shorter chunks e.g. 6 lots of 10 minutes each day.
  • Practice positive self-talk – here are some examples of how to change the language we use:
    • I’ve never done it before / This is the chance to learn something new
    • It’s too complicated / I’ll try looking at it a new way
    • This won’t work / I can give it a go and see if it will work
    • It’s too difficult / I will try
    • No one talks to me / I will talk to them
    • I’m not going to get better at this / I will try again

Include social and emotional learning in your teaching.

Social and emotional learning (SEL) aims to improve how pupils make decisions, interact with others and manage their emotions. SEL helps children to:

  • Identify and manage their feelings and behaviour and reach out for help where necessary
  • Build and manage healthy relationships
  • Have self-control
  • Resolve conflict
  • Be self-aware
  • Handle and overcome difficulties
  • Make good decisions
  • Build resilience, self-esteem and confidence
  • Think positively about themselves and how they perceive the world around them
  • Recognise and prevent poor mental health

Further information

Read our last blog on Physical Wellness

You can find out more about the Six Dimensions of Wellness from the National Wellness Institute

See the Education Endowment Fund for examples of social and emotional learning interventions

Go Well Blog

Can co-creation encourage more children to be more active?

Co-creation can be seen as the latest buzzword in education but what does it mean and could it help engage more children in their PE, School Sport and Physical Activity? This is what we are seeking to find out through our new Go Well HEART project.

Co-creation is different from consultation, which is where you ask questions, your class or working group responds and you decide the final outcome. Co-creation is working in partnership – you discuss ideas and proposals with your class or working group (co creators) and agree what you want to achieve. You develop the idea together and you decide on the goals and actions together. Everyone contributes; value is created collectively and everyone involved benefits.

Whilst co-creation can involve more work and take more time, it can ultimately lead to greater engagement and ownership and ultimately create programmes or activities that are more fun and enjoyable. It changes the dynamics of a programme or activity, moving pupils from being passive recipients to becoming active participants. Pupils can also feel empowered and listened to.

These outcomes sound great, but where do you start?

To be successful in co-creation you need to be clear on the type of engagement and how the final decision will be made – a collective, a majority, or will it be down to you or a chosen pupil to make the final decisions? An example of the scale of involvement in the decision-making process could be:

  • I will ask and listen; your opinions are important, however I will make the final decision (Consultation).
  • I will discuss and build it with you, and you will have an equal say in the decisions. We will vote on the outcome.
  • We will discuss and build this together and we as a group will decide on how decisions are made..

What are the benefits of co-creation?

By introducing co-creation you are giving children the chance to start articulating thoughts, wants and needs, whilst also building empathy and understanding through collective decision making.

Co-creation encourages pupils to think outside of the box and apply what they have learned through other experiences. It helps them to understand goals and what they need to do to work towards these. It can also present solutions that we as adults may not have thought of.

How can co-creation help with PESSPA?

Developing an active lifestyle is vital for our mental and emotional health as well as our physical wellbeing, but for some children PESSPA can be a miserable experience, a time when they feel embarrassed and uncomfortable. Co-creation could be one way to address this. Giving children choice and involving them in project design and the decision-making process could lead to greater engagement and enjoyment.

It also reduces the level of ‘risk’ when introducing a new programme or activity. “If you build it, they will come?” If you build it with them, they are already there.

You can even co-create the co-creation process with the children! Discuss with your pupils how they would like to be involved and engaged. Some pupils may not want to be part of the process initially or may shy away from group discussion. Give more hesitant or reluctant pupils the chance to give their thoughts in an alternative way or let them observe discussion-based activities; they will see how it works and it may well encourage them to be involved in future sessions.  

Tools to use as part of the co-creation process:

  • Surveys
  • Focus groups
  • Activities that help children to formulate a contribution (Diamond 9)
  • Reflections (experiment and learn)
  • Debates
  • Generating data and discussing it

Our top tips for successful co-creation:

  • Start small – pick one part of PESSPA to co-create e.g. after school provision.  See what works well with your children and spread this to other areas of PESSPA.
  • Test and learn – part of the co-creation process is to do, review and evaluate. In a rapidly changing world we need to help children not to fear failure,but to be prepared to try, learn and adapt or improve.
  • Be mindful – ‘they don’t know what they don’t know’. How can you help your pupils find out more to make informed decisions and contributions? How could you spark their imagination? Try using stories, videos or taster sessions/experiences. Remember that you don’t know what you don’t know either!

What to avoid:

  • Tokenism – asking children for the sake of asking, to look good, to look on trend and not using the data effectively or ignoring it if it doesn’t fit your narrative or plan
  • Entering co-creation with the outcome pre-formed in your mind
  • Not being clear on how decisions will be made
  • Making promises you can’t keep

How we are using co-creation at Go Well

We want to ensure that our programmes build on the activities that children enjoy.  We believe introducing co-creation into our programmes will help ensure that being active is a positive experience for more young people. Earlier this term we launched the second phase of our HEART project. Over 2,000 children are helping us to test a series of activities over a 12-week period.

The ’mini-researchers’ are spending six weeks working through exercises set by our team and noting their thoughts and feelings about the activities. They then submit their own suggestions for the second half of the programme. These can be variations of existing activities or brand-new exercises.  The second 6-week booklet of activities includes the children’s own games. This feedback and their contributions will help us to develop our understanding of the activities that they enjoy and stick with, and how these can be built into our physical activity programmes.  We are also testing a co-creation approach and will reflect and learn ourselves on this process.

Further information on co-creation

James Hutton Institute – Is co-creation more than participation?

Integration and Implementation Insights – 8 strategies for co-creation