Bizarre breaking news: Government finally releases a strategy for childhood physical activity using it as punishment. Early April fool, ignorant Olympic legacy or plain clueless?

By Richard Weiler, Sam Allardyce, Greg Whyte, Emmanuel Stamatakis

This week the UK government Department of Education has released a new strategy to improve school discipline, including the alarming strategy that physical activity should be used as punishment, recommended (on page 8) as running laps around school playing fields (READ FULL STRATEGY HERE).

Another defining moment from Mr Michael Gove’s Department of Education. Especially as he himself has continued the path of previous governments by approving the selling off of these same school playing fields, so that even fewer children now have playing fields to be punished with. Even Her Majesty’s Prisons have a better understanding of the use of physical activity for health and mental well-being.

We urge Mr Gove, his advisors and colleagues at the Department of Education to read our recent report in BJSM to help them understand the gravity and dire need for a national physical activity, physical literacy and physical education strategy for children, which involves greater access, options for participation and crucially enjoyment of a variety of forms of physical activity (not just sport) for school children. The protection of safe environments for children to enjoy active play is also critical, including playing fields at schools, where children spend most of their week in state care. Using physical activity as a form of enforced negative punishment will not help these children develop a positive and fun relationship with physical activity to maintain into adulthood.

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