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Childhood Obesity

Ofsted Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman launches her second Annual Report on state of education and children’s care in England and says that we should all be proud of the achievements of many professionals who have delivered a good, and often improving, standard of education and care. Amanda, also has the pleasure of reporting that in some areas that Ofsted inspect, more of the provision available is good or outstanding this year compared with last.

Amanda Spielman goes on to say that across the sectors Ofsted inspect, they see people working well to deliver for young people. As a result, more providers are getting more of the basics right and, as a result, are improving. The report states that:

  • The early years sector remains strong, with 95% of providers judged good or outstanding compared with 74% 6 years ago.
  • Eighty-six per cent of schools were judged good or outstanding at their most recent inspection. However, around 490 schools have been ‘stuck’ in a cycle of poor performance since 2005.
  • Sixty-nine per cent of all non-association independent schools are currently judged good or outstanding. Although broadly the same as last year, this is a decline from August 2015.
  • Seventy-six per cent of all general further education (FE) colleges are currently judged good or outstanding – a big improvement from last year.
  • The number of local authorities (LAs) judged good or outstanding for their social care continues to rise, while two-thirds of LAs that were once judged inadequate have improved at re-inspection.

Within the report Amanda addresses the area of obesity and the role of society to takle the issue. Below is an extract of her comments:

"There is no doubt that the rise in childhood obesity is one of the most acute crises of our time. By the start of primary school, almost a quarter of children in England are overweight or obese. This rises to over a third by the time children leave primary school. There have been many calls for schools to be given more responsibility for reducing childhood obesity. However, our research found that, no matter what interventions schools put in place, there was no link between that and obesity rates in those schools. In short, there is no silver bullet – childhood obesity is an issue for society as a whole, not schools on their own.

Where schools can make a difference is by staying focused on their core purpose and teaching through the curriculum. Many primary schools are teaching children really well about healthy eating and living, which is their proper role as educational institutions. Around half of parents we surveyed said that what their children had been taught in school led them to make healthier eating and drinking choices outside school. More than half of pupils surveyed said that they were doing more sport and exercise as a result of what their school had taught them. However, as above, we saw no link between schools’ approaches to tackling obesity and children’s weight.

Schools could do more to listen to the views of children and parents, in particular on which extra-curricular activities to provide, but they should be considered as part of the wider personal development of young people, not a catch-all for tackling obesity. Teachers simply cannot take on the job of health professionals, nutritionists, parents and other new roles that are demanded of them on an almost daily basis. The answer to the obesity crisis lies in homes, communities, health services and schools acting in concert."

The first paragraph states that

"no matter what interventions schools put in place, there was no link between that and obesity rates in those schools",

It points back to the Obesity, healthy eating and physical activity in primary schools report from Ofstead that was published in July 2018, which indicated that:

"None of the things that any of the schools in our sample were doing mapped against whether they had relatively low or relatively high levels of obesity. Nor was there any evidence from the sample that taking a comprehensive approach to healthy living across a school had a direct and measurable impact on BMI."

Given that only 60 primary schools out of around 20 925 were surveyed, we would love to hear from schools that have evidence that there is a direct correlation between what they do, and the levels of obesity in their school.

Maybe your from a school who believe that what you do has an inpact but you just dont have the evidence. We would love to work with you to gather that evidence, so if this describes you, then get in touch.

We agree with Ofsted that 

"Teachers simply cannot take on the job of health professionals, nutritionists, parents and other new roles that are demanded of them on an almost daily basis. The answer to the obesity crisis lies in homes, communities, health services and schools acting in concert."

So what should schools be doing according to Ofsted? Ofsted says that schools should focus on:

  • planning a challenging and well-sequenced curriculum, including learning about the body in PE and science about healthy eating and cooking
  • providing ample opportunity for children to take physical exercise during the school day – with lots of opportunities to ‘get out of breath’
  • teaching particular skills like how to cook or how to dance
  • updating parents on their children’s physical development such as agility, balance and coordination.

If you need help on any of the above, then feel free to get in touch to see how we can work together.

Read more articles
" Schools could do more to listen to the views of children and parents, in particular on which extra-curricular activities to provide, but they should be considered as part of the wider personal development of young people, not a catch-all for tackling obesity. Teachers simply cannot take on the job of health professionals, nutritionists, parents and other new roles that are demanded of them on an almost daily basis. The answer to the obesity crisis lies in homes, communities, health services and schools acting in concert.""

Amanda Spielman, (Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector)

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