The Need for the project
The Ready Sett Go Early Years Physical Development Programme is taking place in the Three Towns Area Action Partnership area as a pilot project.
Within County Durham, children at 3 years old are at the same level as national average for obesity levels. However, by the time the children hit the end of Key Stage 2 the percentage number of children classed as obese is higher than the national average.
Within the Three Towns Area Action Partnership boundary, this is a particular problem with 22.2% of young people of this age classed as obese in the wards of Howden-le-Wear, Crook North and Tow Law. This is greater than the 20.6% county average in 2010.
Consultations with headteachers and nursery school providers highlighted that a major reason for such statistics is the fact that funding for personal, social and physical development has been removed, resulting in a decline in children’s overall physical activity levels in the area.
Anecdotal evidence provided by Headteachers indicates that there are children in Year 6 who still don’t have the fine motor skills to hold a pen correctly or cut using scissors.
It was hoped that by putting together a high quality Early Years Physical Development programme in the Three Towns nursery schools, through the use of physical activity and play delivery led by a qualified coach, more children in the area could develop the necessary fine and gross motor skills and enjoy physical activity. This would help them obtain an active lifestyle through childhood and into adulthood and reduce the risk of obesity and associated health risks.
How was the project delivered?
A project team was established to develop the Ready Sett Go programme in the Three Towns area and training was provided to sports coaches to enable them to deliver it.
The early years sports coach/practitioner delivered weekly sessions to nursery and reception classes (nursery classes, 30 minutes duration; reception classes, 1 hour) over a 12 week period. The coach provideed a mentorship role to the teachers over the 12 week block of coaching to ensure that high quality delivery methods were continued in schools.
Each session was delivered using innovative equipment designed to engage Early Years children in physical activity, the coach and Early Years teacher(s) using resource cards designed to primarily aid physical development. The cards consist of 14 inventive games for the children to take part in across the course of the programme, including activity aims, layout and progressions.
Illustrations of “Brock and Friends” taking part in the activities on the cards were designed to engage the children. Once children completed specific activities at a satisfactory level, they were rewarded with stickers of “Brock and Friends”.
The schools/nurseries were given resource bags to keep at the end of the block of coaching to ensure high quality sessions could continue to be delivered by teachers in school. The bags included equipment, story books, CDs and the cards.
To celebrate the 12 weeks, the parents of the children were invited to attend a two hour fun interactive workshop to learn basic games to aid the physical development of their children. This was incorporated at the end of the coaching delivery as it is recognised that high quality physical activity performed outside of the school environment can also help to contribute to children attaining educational standards, as well as meet recommended physical activity guidelines.
A “parent pack” of innovative games and drills was designed and given to all parents/carers to provide them with ideas on how to to take part in physical activity with their children in a fun and safe way in the long term at home.
Children were provided with a certificate at the end of “parent workshop” session to thank them for their hard work and give an additional incentive to continue their involvement in a physically active lifestyle both within and outside of the school environment.
An impressive 413 pupils took part in the programme across the 16 different schools and 27 classes delivered. Total throughput was 4356.
On average across the 16 schools, 23% of early years children were achieving or exceeding physical development levels that were expected for their age on entry to the school/nursery. However, after taking part in the Ready Sett Go programme, 81% of pupils achieved either expected or above average physical development levels for their age.
In order to verify that the Ready Sett Go programme had contributed to this percentage increase, by obtaining figures from 5 schools not involved in the project it was found that on average the percentage figures achieving/exceeding expected levels rose from 25% on entry to 61% at exit.
Two schools involved in the programme provided data to indicate that the percentage increase was a lot lower during the previous year (when not involved in the programme) compared to the year in which they have been involved.
165 parents (40%) attended the parent workshops at the schools.
32 teachers attended the 3 Continuing Professional Development (CPD) sessions that took place at the beginning of the programme.
87 teachers worked with the sports coach during the 12 weeks of delivery.
Teachers commented that the CPD course that took place at the beginning of the delivering coaching was well timed (one week before working with the children) and provided the teachers with a sound knowledge regarding the background of the project and how to successfully deliver the programme in conjunction with the sports coach.
Sessions delivered by sports coaches were described as “Progressive” and “met needs of children”. Comments by teachers highlighted that they “thoroughly enjoyed the programme” and that children “improved their spatial awareness, coordination and control” as a result of the session delivery.
Schools/teachers were not only complimentary regarding the fun and inspiring nature of the drills/games included in the teacher resources, but they also helped them to allow the children to achieve educational aims. Teachers found the teacher resources “wonderful” and “quality”.
Using the “Brock & Friends” illustrations “inspired” and “motivated” the children to perform and try to the best of their abilities throughout the programme.
Parents commented that the workshop was of an appropriate length and provided them with great ideas as to how the games could be used outside of school. The fact that they could “see” the games in action was considered as beneficial and feedback was generally very positive.
Sustaining the programme
The qualitative and quantitative feedback and figures provided indicates that the Ready Sett Go Programme has had a substantial positive impact on the physical development and general lives of those aged 3-5 within the Three Towns area of County Durham.
A second pilot, in Weardale, with new games and resources has just started. Should the programme be a success there, it is hoped that the programme could be rolled across the whole of County Durham as the benefits of the scheme have been indisputably significant to the young people within this age category.