Sports stars back bid to extend school day for extra two hours to help coronavirus generation

Judith J. Mercado

“The CSJ believes that physical activity and sports should be viewed by government as integral parts of a healthy lifestyle, lowering an individual’s risk of serious poor physical health and supporting better mental health, rather than a standalone panacea to the complex realities of the obesity crisis.”

Andy Cook, Chief Executive of the CSJ, said: “It is high time the Government developed a holistic strategy to face down the virus, not just through medical interventions, but also respecting students’ social and physical needs.

“It is even more critical during a pandemic to ask how we can save more lives, and save money for the taxpayer.

“Given the unprecedented demands on working parents, school is an ideal place for pupils to pick up the habit of a daily exercise regime, which will do wonders for families across the country. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Zenna Hopson, former Chair of Ofsted, also backed the proposals, saying: “Young people have had their lives shattered by Covid and failed policies and school closures have left them disengaged and lost.

“Now is the time to invest in them. We must provide them with opportunities to develop and grow. Sport is an amazing vehicle for young people to use to develop skills, get healthy and play as a team.

“Opening schools and allowing brilliant third sector organisations to use the facilities to ensure young people have an extended school day is a significant part of the solution. We must act now and deliver extended schools and extra support to our young people.”

Five other recommendations for boosting school sport:

  • Following the Scottish example and encouraging every school to introduce the “daily mile” where children are taken out of the classroom to run or jog for 15 minutes every day. Worldwide, this idea has caught on spectacularly, with over 2 million children in 78 countries running in the footsteps of a scheme conceived by a primary school teacher in Stirling.

  • Opening up schools after hours so children, many living in cramped flats or houses, have somewhere to play – either playgrounds or sports fields.

  • Requiring private schools to share sports facilities with neighbouring state schools as a condition of retaining their tax-favourable charitable status.

  • Making schools (private and state) with outstanding sports provision ‘School sports hubs” and encouraging them to work in partnership with other less advantaged schools.

  • Amending the law so that the Education Secretary can set a minimum number of hours of sport per pupil per week.

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