Dorset County Council: a school fund to boost activity and wellbeing

Getting children active is vital for their wider health and wellbeing – as well as reducing obesity rates. But many children can find themselves put off by traditional sports such as football and netball. This case study forms part of our resource on the National Child Measurement Programme.

Dorset County Council’s public health team and local head teacher alliance worked together to launch a project using data from NCMP, aimed at encouraging low impact physical activity in schools that was aimed at improving both physical and emotional health. They successfully applied to the Health and Wellbeing Board for funding and a pot of money has been set aside.

Council Health Programme Adviser Vicky Abbott said: “We want to encourage projects that are sustainable and are as much focused on emotional health as well as physical activity. There are always plenty of opportunities to play netball or football, but to get people active and tackle obesity requires building self-esteem and offering alternatives. So we have asked schools to come up with some different ideas that can be aimed at parents and teachers as well as pupils and are sustainable in the long-term.

“Our requirement is that they also have an element aimed at emotional health. It may be something that helps with exam stress or transition from key stage two to three or simply contributes to creating an environment that promotes good mental health. That could includes things to get the Daily Mile off the ground by creating a sensory element to the trail or introducing a yoga class or outdoor gym.” The Daily Mile encourages nurseries and primary schools to take children for 15 minutes of jogging or running every day.

Local schools were invited to bid for money in September. So far nearly one in five have put in bids with 64 applications made in total. The successful ones are due to be notified at the turn of the year to get the schemes going in early 2019.

Ms Abbott said: “We have had a very positive response and hopefully once we get these projects up-and-running we will see a positive impact on the mental wellbeing of children as well as an improvement in NCMP results.”

The work complements another initiative that has been running for a number of years that has seen a local GP seconded to public health for one day a week to promote the Daily Mile. She works closely with school PE and sports coordinators and carries out school visits to get as many as possible taking part.

“Daily Mile is a great initiative. It is a perfect example of a scheme that is inclusive and accessible in that it gets everyone taking part, which is why we are so keen to promote it,” added Ms Abbott.

Contact details

Vicky Abbott

Health Programme Adviser

Dorset County Council

[email protected]

This publication was produced jointly with Public Health England (PHE). For more information about the NCMP and current guidance from PHE on how the programme should be operated by local authorities, in line with the relevant legislation and best practice, go to: NCMP Operational Guidance.