Green Fold School is a fairly new to The Daily Mile™, first learning about the initiative in spring 2020. ‘The school sports coordinator and assistant head told me about The Daily Mile™, during lockdown, and I knew straightaway it had potential,’ says Harriet. ‘I researched how other schools had adopted The Daily Mile™. However, it was clear that our learners would find the traditional approach based on running or walking a struggle. For example, going outdoors in bad weather conditions can sometimes enhance negative emotions in pupils that lasts throughout the day and affects learning. I simply couldn’t place the same expectations on our learners, so it was a big ask to get the children involved.’
However, Harriet soon discovered that, whilst the school would struggle with The Daily Mile™ in itself, the individual needs of Green Fold School’s learners could be met using its principles. ‘Many of our children were in school during the first covid lockdown, yet naturally we were confined to the classrooms,’ Harriet explains. ‘It was then that we took on the idea of The Daily Mile™ and our physical activity was decided: dancing. I knew The Daily Mile™ didn’t have to be done by completing a run or a walk, rather that it was all about taking part in 15 minutes of activity that worked for us. Dancing was something the children loved, and I recognised combining that sense of enjoyment with meeting their physical activity needs through the idea of the initiative could be a real success.’
Three of the school’s classes began following Just Dance exercises via Zoom. ‘There are such a variety of needs within the school that we must have an individual approach for each learner: we simply can’t expect them all to be able to get the same value from an activity,’ says Harriet. ‘Yet it was clear from the start that the children were all engaged with dancing.
Harriet adds. ‘We keep the sessions pupil-led, so the children decide the style of dancing, and enjoy some healthy competition as to who will get to choose the next song. It’s all about being happy while being active, even if that’s dancing to Gangnam Style in the classroom!’
During lockdown, Green Fold School’s most vulnerable children weren’t able to come into school, but every learner could still follow the daily dances on Zoom together. ‘Wherever the children were, they knew they were all part of the same timetable,’ says Harriet. ‘This inclusivity really helped the classes to continue to do physical activity together, as even when school returned we remained classroom-based in small groups to keep everyone as safe as possible.’
Harriet recognises that, whilst Green Fold School’s approach to The Daily Mile™ is a little different, it’s sharing in activity that matters. ‘It’s collective movement that’s important for us,’ she explains. ‘We know we’re doing something valuable with our active time and sharing it with other schools across the region.’
‘It’s amazing to find an activity our learners love and look forward to, especially knowing that’s also a time for them to be physically active,’ concludes Harriet. ‘That’s why, no matter what the day holds, we include our daily dance. It’s a non-negotiable for us as the benefits of the physical activity, coordination and togetherness are invaluable.’
Read more on how partners can play a vital role in the Community Investment Fund supporting the GM Walking City Region Ambition and wider GM Moving ambitions.