NEW RESEARCH HAS revealed that teachers believe their students’ fitness levels should be tested regularly.
According to a survey, carried out by Aviva Health, eight in 10 secondary school teachers would like to see Physical Education (PE) treated as a core, examinable subject which includes regular monitoring of fitness levels.
The study comes as the company launches this year’s Schools’ Fitness Challenge, an aerobics test for First, Second and Third Year pupils.
“At present there is little or no debate regarding the role of assessment and evaluation of fitness among school-going children in Ireland, and this needs to change,” according to Professor Niall Moyna who developed the Wellness Economic Alliance initiative.
“Physical education teachers are professionally trained and have the requisite skill-set to undertake fitness testing and our initial research indicates support by teachers for such an initiative with 80 per cent agreeing with the statement.”
The Wellness Economic Alliance has called on the Department of Education to set national, age- appropriate fitness levels in children, and for the fitness levels of secondary school students to be routinely assessed, like other examinable subjects, as part of the curriculum.
“Fitness is one of the best indicators of a person’s overall health, and a high level of fitness reduces the risk for major chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, depression, and diabetes,” continued Moyna. “Furthermore, our research shows that the majority of teachers (9 in 10) recognise that regular physical activity impacts positively on student’s academic performance, leading to a marked improvement in concentration, motivation, alertness and an overall healthy mind.”
A separate study recently undertaken by the Irish Sports Council and compiled by the ESRI highlighted a problem in keeping students playing sport as they get older. However, the report also revealed that students who play sport get, on average, better results in the Leaving Certificate exam.
“Children in Ireland are worryingly inactive, with only 12 per cent of 10-18 year olds in Ireland meeting the Department of Health and Children physical activity recommendations of at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily,” said Donegall footballer Michael Murphy.
“As a recently qualified PE teacher, I strongly feel that physical education needs to be prioritised and viewed as a core examinable subject like Maths and Irish, so that children learn from an early age the importance of exercise and carry that behaviour right through to adulthood,” he continued.
Irish international athlete David Gillick believes fitness starts with both parents and teachers.
Aviva Health now sets out on its task to find the fittest girls’ and boys’ schools throughout the country.