What are the benefits of Active Staff Challenges in your school? 

We all know we need to include exercise in our day, we know the benefits and the potential risks if we aren’t active enough. We are great at creating these opportunities for the children we teach, but are we practising what we preach? 

For some of us, living an active, healthy and balanced lifestyle is manageable, we have already found a way to fit (squeeze) it into our days. This might come through walking or cycling to school, heading to the gym at the end of the day or just getting out and walking the dog. But for lots of school staff, finding time to be active seems impossible. This is why we need to make time to be active, it needs to become as much a priority as the lesson you are planning for or the meeting you have scheduled. 

Put simply, if we start taking better care of our own health, and put our health first, we can continue doing the job we love create fun, active and memorable experiences for the children we teach.

So as a school leader, or even a staff member with a passion for activity, what can you do to help colleagues that need a little extra motivation or support with finding their enjoyment in activity?  

One way is by creating active staff challenges:

Events I have been involved in range from the 3 Peaks challenge, to endurance bike rides and multi school virtual runs, but they don’t need to be large scale events to be impactful. Below are some of the benefits we saw, and that you can expect to see from your own challenges. 

Staff activity levels 
  • In an event such as a staff 5k you will be able to target a large  number of your staff/community to join in. By doing this you will be encouraging colleagues to get out and train each week, increasing their active minutes. This can be supported by a 9 week Couch to 5k programme. Find a staff champion to lead this straight after work a couple of days a week, by having a small group of ‘non-runners’ publicly training for the event you will reduce the feeling for your staff that “they need to be a runner to take part”. With any luck some of your staff will enjoy the event enough to keep up running as a regular form of exercise. 
Staff morale
  • Working towards a common goal brings people together, a group of teachers completing an endurance bike ride for example will bring up countless moments where the team will need to lean on one another to get through it. This event will build huge bonds of trust that will pay dividends when it comes to collaboration when teaching, learning or planning. 
Community/parental engagement 
  • Putting on an event of any scale will rely on the kindness of your community. This could be through donations of food, publicity of the event, fundraising or even taking part in the event itself. 
  • Find out if you have any parents/carers who are keen runners and may want to run the after school run club, or if you have any cyclists who may be able to support a team of cyclists with their endurance challenge. 
  • Keep your families and community in the loop, there may be someone out there that can help you. 
Fundraising opportunities
  • If someone within your community is going through a tough time and they’ve been supported by a charity, this is something people will gladly support. Likewise if you are linked with a local charity who offer support to the families you teach, this too will go down well in your community. 
  • The charity you choose will influence how much support they can give you, it will also encourage some people to take part in the challenge who may have otherwise given it a miss. . 
Active travel 
  • One of the easiest ways to build activity into your day is by combining it with your commute. Encouraging staff to leave their cars at home won’t go down well with everyone, but for some staff members, walking or cycling might actually be quicker and less stressful than their regular commute. 
  • An inter class active travel competition that gives classes bonuses when their teacher joins in can help to incentive sustainable travel. 
  • Also, if you have the Cycle 2 work scheme available at your school, promote it to your staff. 
  • Staff arriving at school energised after a morning walk or ride can only be a good thing, rather than stressed with the fact they have been sitting in traffic and now don’t have time for a coffee. 
Children’s activity levels 
  • By linking your staff challenge to an event for your pupils you will be creating a fun and memorable active opportunity. The children love any chance to try something new, and even running can be loads of fun if you give them a route they wouldn’t normally get to run through, like around and through the school. 
  • Play some music, get the staff running and you will have a festival of running and a day to remember. 
  • Maximize on this impact by sending our information about your local Junior Parkrun or athletics club showing the parents/carers where their child can continue this new love of activity. 
Staff acting as active role models 
  • If you have a big event day in school, such as the London Mini Marathon with both pupils and staff taking part, (maybe even in fancy dress) you are creating a safe and fun space to be active. 
  • Encouraging your staff to take part alongside the children means your pupils will get to see their teachers in a different light. They are pushing themselves, they are maybe tired and need to walk a bit… it is so important for the children to see that the adults who help them each day are humans too, they will sweat, get tired and sometimes have to slow down, and that all these things are ok!

Read the first post in this series here

If you would like to find out more information on staff challenges or are thinking of putting on your own please feel free to get in touch at challenge.inspiration@outlook.com

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