Pedals installed under desks to help pupils’ performance
- Credit: Nick Butcher
Pedal power is helping to boost pupils' performance and encourage youngsters to lead a more active lifestyle.
As part of a Lowestoft area-primary school's efforts to combat obesity and keep children healthy, an active classroom has been created – with desk pedals installed under the tables of one year three class.
Children, aged seven and eight, at Red Oak Primary School in south Lowestoft have been pedalling away in certain lessons throughout the day as their daily physical activity is increased.
And such has been the success of the innovative initiative – which has produced better behaviour and led to improved concentration and engagement among pupils, while making them more active – that the desk pedals are now being rolled out to a further 330 children in years one to six at the school in Southwell Road.
It is believed that this pedal bikes initiative is the first of its kind to be used at a school in East Anglia. The desk pedal exercisers, which have been in use since last month, feature a digital display that indicates exercise time duration, calorie consumption and revolutions per minute.
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The pedal bikes, which were bought with some of the PE and sport premium funding and topped up from the school budget, have been trialled over recent weeks with a year three class. And with the scheme hailed a success, the school has now placed an order to buy more pedals as they extend the programme to 11 other classes.
The initiative stemmed from a meeting between headteacher Heather Madsen and PE co-ordinator and year three teacher, Johnny Lee, as ideas to raise activity levels within the classroom were discussed. Having seen similar pedal bikes successfully used in schools in Scandinavia where Mrs Madsen had previously worked, Mr Lee said: 'I had heard of schools in America using the pedal bikes during sedentary lessons, which led to improved levels of concentration after using the equipment and increasing activity throughout the day.'
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Mr Lee said the desk pedals at Red Oak have been a success. He said: 'We call it our active classroom. The desk pedals have seen the children cycle during their English, maths, ICT and French lessons to make them fitter and increase their daily physical activity. As far as I know, we are the only school in the north Suffolk and Norfolk area that does this. Its had a great impact on the class, with the children wandering around no more.
'The behaviour is better and engagement in lessons has been great – the class has been really enthusiatic and they like using the bikes.'
Leading the way
With staff at Red Oak Primary School coming up with innovative ways to increase activity levels within the classroom and help combat obesity in the long run, the desk pedals have seen pupils benefit from increased exercise as well as a more active, healthier lifestyle.
The desk pedals tally how many minutes have been spent pedalling during the course of the day, how many spins the pupils have done and how may calories have been burnt.
Headtacher Mrs Madsen said: 'It has been really successful and the other children are all really looking forward to it.
'The desk pedals have now become a habit, as the pupils are fiddling less with things on the table. No one is forced to cycle - they are doing it by themselves – and the desk pedals are brilliant for those who want to burn off more energy.'
Mr Lee added: 'The children cycle whenever they want and it makes them more active in lessons.
'We know that children should be getting one hour minimum of moderate to vigourous activity each day, and for example last week the year three class had literacy, numeracy, ICT and French – meaning the children would be at their desk all day – but they were able to use the pedal bikes to be active and burn calories throughout those lessons.'
Among those benefiting from the new equipment is Jake, Ella, Evie, Luissa and Mia – with the year three pupils at Red Oak Primary School feeling 'proud' to have been among those who were chosen to trial the new desk pedals.
The seven-year-olds all admitted they were 'excited' to have come into the classroom last month and discover the new exercise equipment under their desks.
'It has made our lessons fun,' Luissa said.
Jake said: 'It makes you burn lots of energy and helps us concentrate.'
'It has helped us to stop fiddling,' another pupil added.
Evie said: 'It is really exciting and makes you more healthier.'
Ella added: 'It stops us wandering around the classroom and helps us to lose calories.'
Mia said: 'We are trying to beat our tallies each day.'
The school is also part of a Suffolk-wide pilot scheme involving the Active Movement Project. Mrs Madsen said: 'We are trying to make as many opportunities as possible for the children to be more active in a classroom setting, including standing up to answer questions.'