Teachers and pupils from eight North Glasgow schools are celebrating a year of change and learning that puts PE and physical activity at the top of the priority list.
They’ve been taking part in On Our Marks, a project that has a vision to inspire the people of North Glasgow to be more physically active.
Children involved in the project are enjoying a range of positive outcomes. In February, many Primary 1 and 2 children struggled with tasks such as shuttle runs and catching a ball. Now they can complete multiple tasks without difficulty – and they’re having fun in the process.
Speaking about one pupil at Miltonbank PS, teacher Mrs Cochrane said: "On Our Marks has been very positive for her. Her gross motor skills have massively developed, resulting in increased confidence, being more settled and focused in class with a noticeable improvement in educational attainment. Perhaps the most significant and pleasing development is that she's interacting more with her peers at playtime".
Due to the ongoing effects of the pandemic, accessing physical activity is challenging for many families. Issues like cost, travel and low awareness mean only 54% of people in disadvantaged areas achieve the recommended guidelines for physical activity, compared to 74% in affluent areas.
Research by the University of Bristol shows that physical activity among young people has dropped by a further 13% since the outbreak, while a study by the University of Strathclyde found that children from more disadvantaged areas were nearly three times less likely to be involved in sport. They were also more than twice as likely to have obesity by the time they were in P1 and nearly less than a quarter likely to have safe outdoor spaces to play in.
Sport and activity are proven approaches in alleviating issues caused by poverty including avoidable diseases, mental illness and obesity. Good physical and psychological health impacts a young person’s wellbeing, attainment, social skills, employment opportunities and aspiration levels – all factors known to be lower in areas of deprivation.
On Our Marks, delivered in partnership by the charity Winning Scotland and local housing association ng homes, aims to improve health and wellbeing in North Glasgow and address low levels of physical activity by encouraging regular physical activity in school, at home and in the community.
In 2022, On Our Marks has delivered 46 after-school physical activity sessions for 160 Primary 1 and 2 pupils across eight schools in North Glasgow: Barlornock Primary School, Chirnsyde Primary School, Elmvale Primary School, Miltonbank Primary School, Saracen Primary School, St Catherine’s Primary School, St Monica’s Primary School, St Teresa's Primary School.
This year’s project culminated in an event at St Teresa’s Primary School on Thursday 16 June, where pupils and teachers celebrated their learning and development from a year of focus on physical activity. They were joined by local leaders in the community and education, as well as Team GB basketball captain, Kieron Achara.
ng homes Chairperson John Thorburn said “Over the years we have been actively involved in developing and supporting innovative initiatives to help our communities reach their full potential. We’re delighted to be working in partnership with Winning Scotland to deliver the On Our Marks project to develop and enhance the lives of those living in North Glasgow.
“The impact of On Our Marks has been a very positive experience and we look forward to seeing the next steps of this project get put into place to help support our communities to be resilient and confidence to continue this work long into the future.”
Winning Scotland CEO Zahra Hedges said: “Our mission is to build confidence and resilience in children and young people and we know that improving levels of physical activity is an important part of that. In a short time we’ve already seen direct evidence of children becoming more confident physically – this means they can enjoy PE and playtime more than before, and is also contributing towards better classroom engagement at school. We’re committed to achieving these outcomes for all children in North Glasgow in partnership with ng homes.”
On Our Marks aims to make physical activity a normal, natural, everyday aspect of life for children and families – something that is fun and can take place anywhere, anytime.
The project comprises three core approaches to encourage participation in physical activity and to enhance links between schools, families and community groups and facilities.