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Creating Active Schools recognised internationally


Pupils cycling to school

An initiative to encourage school children to be more active, led by the University of Bradford and Yorkshire Sport Foundation, has been shortlisted for an international award. 

Creating Active Schools (CAS) is one of just three programmes to be nominated for an International Sport and Culture Association (ISCA) Health award, which honours the change-makers in promoting wellbeing and a healthier society. 

At the same time, CAS features as a case study in the World Heart Federation’s first ever policy brief on physical activity, released yesterday (Tuesday 31st October), which recommends strategies to increase physical activity to combat the rising rate and cost of health problems associated with physical inactivity. 

It is now hoped this Yorkshire initiative could spread around the world. 

Pupils active in the classroom

Developed in 2019, following input from headteachers, governors and education experts, Creating Active Schools is a whole-school framework to promote cultural change in adopting physical activity in all aspects of school life, which has been adopted by more than 200 schools in the UK. 

Schools in the network have introduced changes such as closing streets to encourage walking to school, buying children weatherproof clothing to facilitate outdoor activity in all weathers and ‘active classroom’ sessions in which children move about to complete tasks. 

Dr Andrew Daly-Smith, Reader in Healthy Childhood at the University of Bradford, who leads on Creating Active Schools, said: "We are delighted to be nominated for this award and recognised internationally for the work we are doing with Creating Active Schools to promote more active schools."

Dan Wilson, Director of Development, Yorkshire Sport Foundation, said: "During our leadership of the national pilot, we’ve seen how Creating Active Schools has helped children be more active in schools by changing culture instead of running projects. This behaviour-change approach has led to real long-term improvements in a range of areas including better physical and mental health, improved learning behaviours and ultimately, children enjoying school more.”

Global ambition 

Creating Active Schools is nominated in the Health-promoting schools category, along with the University of Tartu, Estonia and the Mathare Girl Power Project, in Kenya. 

The awards honour exceptional initiatives, activities and tools that foster mental wellbeing through physical activity, empower older adults to lead active lives and create supportive environments where students can thrive physically, mentally and emotionally. The winners will be announced at a ceremony in Madrid, Spain, on Wednesday, 15th November. 

Following this double international recognition, it is hoped Creating Active Schools could soon be adopted by schools all over the world. 

Dr Anna Chalkley, Senior Research Fellow at the University of Bradford, added: "We are collaborating with partners in other countries to help them adopt the CAS framework and develop ways of working to support a whole-school approach to physical activity.

"For example, the framework has been translated into Spanish and Arabic, and we are consulting with colleagues from Danish School Sports in Denmark and the Mulier Institute in the Netherlands to adopt our co-production processes with national stakeholders."

  • The University of Bradford will be hosting its inaugural international Whole-School Physical Activity Conference from 17-19 June, 2024. The conference will showcase work relating to whole school physical activity, including Creating Active Schools, and bring together research, policy and practice. Representatives from Bradford schools as well as schools across the region and country are invited to attend. More information is available at the Whole-School Physical Activity Conference 2024 website.