Star round table: Multiple strategies in place across city to ensure Sheffield children meet recommended exercise level

Activity levels among children were the topic of discussion at the latest Sheffield Star round table.

Wednesday, 24th July 2019, 12:22 pm
Updated Tuesday, 30th July 2019, 3:05 pm
The round table highlighting strategies put in place by Sheffield Council and its partners to address children's activity levels (L-R) Mary Lea, Jackie Drayton, Greg Fell, Alana Roberts

Figures released by Sport England revealed that only 13 per cent of those aged under 16 in Sheffield are active for at least 60 minutes a day - the minimum recommended amount of exercise.

This puts the city among the worst-performing places alongside Sunderland, Westminster and Wolverhampton, where only one in 10 children is meeting the physical activity target and almost half are doing less than 30 minutes of activity a day.

However, experts in the field from Sheffield Council and their partner organisations did not fully agree with the data, and said numerous strategies are in place to ensure young people meet their physical activity target.

The round table highlighting strategies put in place by Sheffield Council and its partners to address children's activity levels (L-R) Emma Banks, Tom Hughes, Rob Womack, Mary Lea, Jackie Drayton, Greg Fell, Alana Roberts

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They called a round table to discuss and highlight just a selection of these strategies taking place in the city.

The panel included Greg Fell, director of public health at Sheffield Council; Coun Jackie Drayton, cabinet member for children and families, Coun Mary Lea, cabinet member for culture, parks and leisure; Rob Womack, health, wellbeing and partnerships manager at SIV; Tom Hughes, from the council's physical activity and sport team; Emma Banks, of the council’s PE and school sports team and was chaired by The Star’s Alana Roberts.

What are your opinions on the data released by Sport England?

Greg Fell: “You read the data and think there is nothing going on in Sheffield - well, that is not true. There’s a whole load of stuff going on. The whole story is that kids need to do more activity. Whether it is here, Birmingham or Manchester doesn’t matter.”

The round table highlighting strategies put in place by Sheffield Council and its partners to address children's activity levels (L-R) Emma Banks, Tom Hughes, Rob Womack, Mary Lea, Jackie Drayton, Greg Fell, Alana Roberts

Emma Banks: “There were eight to 10 schools selected randomly by Sport England, schools don’t have to fill in the form. For example, Notre Dame have been selected this year and they said they don’t want to do it. All of them that were surveyed were in our non-leafy suburbs, there was only Bradfield and High Storrs that are in areas that we would expect higher levels of activity. In the data that was released there is no significant difference between the cities.”

Tom Hughes: “They’ve only just started gathering the data from schools so it gives us a brilliant insight into where Sheffield is at. There is work to be done but it is great we now have the insight to make informed decisions, and the work that Emma and the schools group do through Move More is challenging that. Rather than relying on national data we’re starting to collect our own local data so we have a real understanding of our local picture because there are fantastic examples of amazing practice, and there are some areas we could improve.”

What strategies are in place in Sheffield to help children be more active?

GF: “There is a broad strategy that the city owns called the ‘Move More’ strategy, which was established by the National Centre of Sport and Exercise Medicine (NCSEM). Within that you have active travel, active schools, active communities and a whole bunch of sub-groups that are responsible for different components of that strategy. One of our problems, which was apparent when putting this briefing together, is there isn’t a single person who co-ordinates the whole strategy. This is an opportunity to talk about some of the stuff that is going on around schools, communities and leisure.”

EB: “In primary school time and that first hour after school there is shed loads going on in Sheffield. Children get opportunities to do more than they possibly access, 95 per cent of our primary schools pay into a sports partnership and they help to train teachers, deliver activities and deliver competition for all at a lower level.

“We’ve got four School Games organisers in Sheffield – that’s free for schools and is an equal offer across the whole city. They’re very well-attended and it is at capacity.

“The School Sports Partnerships are still in existence in Sheffield partly due to the fact schools pay a membership. Working with partners to bring things into schools, for example SIV will come to us as a group and offer loads of free swimming lessons and we work to strategically put that out. We encourage kids to leave the four walls of the school and use public transport to get to the Peak District.”

Jackie Drayton: “It’s not just what the council are doing, it is people like SIV but also some of our voluntary sector organisations. I think about the stuff we’ve got going on in Burngreave... football clubs, the Active Burngreave Project, but also the scouts and the brownies.”

Mary Lea: “Kids want to do things in their local area because it is on their doorstep. There’s lots of groups – Burngreave United, Darnall United. It’s about getting out in the community and providing the facilities for people to use.”

TH: “It’s not just the voluntary sector. It is the people in the local communities, there’s a whole host of stuff happening.”

How is Sheffield Council working with its partners to monitor and improve activity levels among children in Sheffield?

JD: “There is ‘Every Child Matters’ that we do every year that goes to every school and one of the questions on there is about being active. We’ll have a view about whether it is getting worse or better, but I certainly would say I think children are doing less activity.”

ML: “In our communities we need to ensure we’ve got the right facilities and they will come to us and say ‘We want to do this’. We’ve invested our public health money into parks over the last three years.”

Rob Womack: “We’ve got a great foundation of organised activities in Sheffield. We’ve got 8,500 kids having lessons every week and 90,000 free activity passes which we give to schools – there’s some huge numbers in terms of things that we’re doing but as a city the big question is how to make it less formal so we can engage more people.”