21 Apr 2005

Child SkippingPlayground games of yesteryear are set for a renaissance in a bid to get schoolchildren more active.

Wales’ Education Minister Jane Davidson today detailed a £20,000 game plan called "In The Zone" which is set to revolutionise today’s schoolyard.

As well as bringing the likes of hopscotch and skipping back into fashion, school grounds will be split into activity zones in a plan to counteract boredom, reduce bullying and increase exercise and learning.

It is the brainchild of the Welsh Assembly Government’s PE and School Sport programme which is managed by Sports Council Wales and aims to improve the delivery of physical education across Wales.

Ms Davidson spells out why she is supporting the plan:

"The new stratagem has already been trialled in schools across the country and has proved to be popular and particularly effective in socially deprived areas."

She adds, "The lunch break has so much potential for children to learn and be active. It goes a long way to encouraging children to undertake the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity five times a week and it’s also socially inclusive."

And in the first move of its kind in the UK, Wales will train up its midday supervisors to manage "In the Zone".

PE and School Sport Manager Allison Hanbury explained, "We are ensuring that we are maximising existing resources by training up supervisors to ensure they are fully equipped to realise the full potential of the playground at lunchtime."

"We had a situation at lunchtimes where some boys were playing football but the girls and other boys were just chatting. By carving playgrounds into separate activity zones, we have seen behavioural changes and increased activity levels. The playground is safer, easier to manage and lunch breaks have now become a constructive time for exercise and learning."

Now featuring an activity zone, a multi-sport zone and even a chill out zone, all pupils are involved.

Amid fears of increasing obesity levels, the playground games – both affordable and portable – offer a good aerobic workout, tone the muscles and improve coordination, balance and agility.

"The children really enjoy the old games and they are a great way to get the children moving. They had never heard some of them so it’s a good learning exercise too," added Ms Hanbury.

Older pupils are charged with responsibility – to manage equipment and to look after younger children. Children are also encouraged to think up new games to boost innovation, creative thought and teamwork.