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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

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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?

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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.

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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:

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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

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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

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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

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Six Dimensions of Wellness – pt 1 Physical Wellness

We believe passionately in the power of physical activity to improve lives. Over this term we will be looking at how we can develop healthy minds and bodies through the six dimensions of wellness.

Firstly, what is wellness and why is it important?
Wellbeing? Physical health? Happiness? What does ‘wellness’ mean?
Often misunderstood and confused with similar terms, wellness is actually an active process that incorporates physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing. It is the state of being healthy in body and mind by practicing healthy habits on a daily basis.

What are the six dimensions of wellness?

Six areas of our lifestyle make up overall wellness – physical, social, intellectual, spiritual, emotional and occupational. These complement each other to provide a well-balanced, vital and prosperous life. By making simple healthy choices each day, we will move further towards achieving wellness.

We want to help you develop your own wellness and that of your pupils. In this first blog in the series, we’re exploring physical wellness.

Physical wellness

Physical wellness is an important contributor to our overall wellness. This means eating well, sleeping well and exercising regularly. Feeling physically good also enhances self-esteem, aids self-control and provides a sense of direction.

How can you support your own physical wellness and that of your pupils?
At Go Well, we want to impact on the wellness of 1 million people by 2025. One of the ways we are doing this is by introducing children to a broad range of healthy activities. Encouraging children to develop healthy habits whilst they are young will improve the quality of their life as they grow.

Here are three ways that will help you to achieve optimal physical wellness:

Eating healthily – a healthy diet where you eat a range of healthy foods, particularly fruit and vegetables, is beneficial for short and long-term health. It will also help keep you full and satisfied throughout the day. Change for Life has some great tips on nutrition and what a healthy diet looks like, as well as meal ideas and food swaps. You can also download a free food scanner app which makes it easier to find out what is really in the food and drink that you’re buying.

Exercising regularly and consistently – being active every day helps to strengthen your body and mind. Children aged 5 – 18 should aim for at least 60 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity a day (this means you should be breathing faster and feeling warmer). Children should take part in a range of activities across the week to develop movement skills, muscles and bones. Spreading active periods out across the day will also help to reduce the length of time spent sitting or lying down and break up long periods of not moving. You can get more information about activity guidelines different kinds of activities on the NHS website

Getting adequate rest – sleep is critical to good health and helps us to feel better physically and mentally. Not enough sleep can lead to difficulties in concentrating and a higher likelihood of getting ill. Children aged 6 – 12 years need 9 to 12 hours sleep every night. Quality sleep is essential for children’s growth and development, it will help them to do better at school, they will be able to react more quickly to situations, learn more effectively and solve problems more easily. The Sleep Charity has resources to help support children to get a good night’s sleep.

Find out more

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

Read our introductory blog

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6 ways to inspire more girls to play sport

We have been wowed by some amazing young athletes recently – Sky Brown, Emma Raducanu, Maisie Summers Newton – but they sadly can be seen as the exception. Just 15% of girls meet WHO recommendations of at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity per day. Amongst 5 – 7 year olds, only 23% achieve this target.

The Department for Education is investing £1.2m to improve school sport for girls but we can all do more to encouraging young girls to develop an active lifestyle. As a PE lead you can play a pivotal role in inspiring girls to take part in sport. Here are six ways you can help:

Talk about females in sport

We all need someone to look up to. Just 30% of girls dream of reaching the top of sport compared with 60% of boys. Highlight women role models, these can be on the national and international stage or heroes closer to home – celebrate the successes and stories of active women and girls in your school and community. For example, if you are chatting about the weekend’s football results with your class, remember to talk about the results from the Women’s Super League.

Create safe spaces for girls to play sport at your school

Levelling up starts on the playing field. Look at how your pupils use your active spaces. Are the boys dominating the MUGA? Many girls feel uncomfortable about taking part in sports and activities under the gaze of boys. Can you create opportunities for girls-only activities, a space that they can use for their games or a fair share of the MUGA?

For every boys team, have a girls team

Football, cricket, rugby. It can be argued that mixed teams provide an opportunity for girls too, however, only the most confident and competent of girls are likely to take part with the boys. A girls’ only team will provide a safer space for girls to experiment with participating in sporting activities.

Challenge negative stereotypes

‘Throw like a girl’ ‘Run like a girl’ ‘This is a boys sport’ Make sure you, and all other staff within your school, address every negative stereotype heard. Constant reminding and reinforcing the message will help build confidence and belief amongst girls.

Encourage your female staff to become role models

Supporting girls to be active isn’t solely down to you. As we said at the beginning, we all play a part in creating a culture where activity is seen as integral to school life. This will help girls want to become more active. Make sure your female staff talk about and share stories of the sports and activities that they do. The more girls see other females playing sports or being active, the more it is normalised and seen as something that ‘we all do’.

Ask girls what sports and activities they are interested in

When pupils feel they have been involved in a decision and their opinions have been heard, their motivation increases. Research shows that girls response more positively to PE and school sport if they feel they have been part of the consultation process.

For more ideas and examples on how to create better experiences for girls in sport take a look at
Women in Sport’s Changing the Game for Girls Teacher Toolkit
Nike’s Made to Play Guide
Girls Football in School from Youth Sport Trust and the FA

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How can I look after my own wellbeing?

Planning lessons, delivering them effectively, differentiating learning, supporting children to succeed…teachers are on the frontline and never more so than over the past 16 months. Many will be feeling drained from this exceptionally testing academic year.

To be ‘fit’ to cope with the constant demands and pressures, to provide the quality teaching and learning experiences that you wish to, and to be the great teacher you aspire to be, it is essential that you take steps to consider and look after your own wellbeing.

Here are five simple ways to improve your wellbeing and make sure you are fit for your lessons:

  1. Stay hydrated; drink plenty of water. It sounds really simple but not only is it a healthy habit, drinking water can help to alleviate the effects of cortisol (the stress hormone). The NHS suggest you drink 6-8 glasses each day. Consider increasing your intake on warm summer days!
  2. Prioritise good quality sleep. A good night’s sleep gives your brain time to repair, restore and re-energise. A calming routine before bed would help with this – reducing the effects of blue light by switching off all technology an hour before bedtime (try reading a book instead) and keeping your mobile phone out of your bedroom!
  3. Exercise. Being active helps to release helpful chemicals in your brain that boost your mood and improve attention and concentration. Aim to have small active bursts in your day to keep your brain topped up. Also, create an exercise schedule for yourself for longer exercise sessions (walk, run, the gym, sporting activities – whatever you prefer) and prioritse that time for you!
  4. Get outside. Spending time in nature has been proven to benefit both mental and physical wellbeing – reducing blood pressure, lowering heart rate, reducing muscle tension and minimising the production of stress hormones. To maximise the benefits, really take in your surroundings – take note of three things in the environment around you that make you feel good.
  5. Write it down. Building a habit of journaling (writing down your thoughts each evening) can help clarify your thoughts and feelings, and solve problems. It can improve sleep and increase productivity. It can also help you meet your goals and improve your quality of life while reducing stress and symptoms of depression. Get a notepad and get writing!

If you find some of your new habits have a positive impact on your wellbeing, consider sharing them with your pupils or even doing them together. Being a good role model will help to inspire your pupils to be healthy and active and prioritise self-care.

Team Up is our innovative wellbeing programme. We have packages for children and for staff.

Remembering your ‘why’ – reconnecting with you and looking to the future – our blog by Hannah Bell to support school staff who might be struggling with the pressures of the pandemic.