School breakfasts...now fitness videos

Launch of school breakfast scheme at Devonshire Road Primary School.
Launch of school breakfast scheme at Devonshire Road Primary School.
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Salsa and street dance could soon be helping Blackpool pupils stay healthy.

As part of its drive to improve children’s well-being in school, the council is considering introducing a video-led physical exercise programme which can be streamed directly into classrooms.

The move is among the recommendations made by Northumbria University in its report into the free breakfast and milk scheme.

Education chiefs want to back up the healthy eating approach by ensuring youngsters are also encouraged to be active throughout the day.

Blackpool Council leader Coun Simon Blackburn said: “We will be considering a proposal to introduce online exercise programme ‘Cyber Coach Smart’ into all primary school classrooms.

“This programme has been developed specifically for use in primary classes, allowing teachers to stream exercise routines onto whiteboards via the internet, and averting the need for specialist coaching training or hugely expensive sporting facilities.

“We hope the programme, coupled with making sure children receive a healthy and nutritious breakfast each day, will give youngsters a much better chance at succeeding in education and in life.”

The programme can be used throughout the day to give children a burst of activity even when they are at their desks.

Teachers can choose from routines ranging from disco to Bollywood, salsa to street dance and even cheerleading.

A report to councillors says: “Each teacher can log on independently in their classroom and select a routine suitable for the age and activity of their children.

“All the sessions are streamed via the internet directly through to the interactive whiteboards in classrooms or the school hall.”

If the programme was introduced, schools would also be able to turn to a coach activator from the council’s physical education team to help them develop activities.

Parents and pupils can also utilise the keep fit system at home if they wished to.

But the move has come under fire from Tory opposition councillors.

Conservative group leader Coun Tony Williams said: “We should be encouraging our children to take exercise in the fresh air whenever possible and it should be team driven to encourage competitiveness which leads to achievement, not asking them to jump around to keep fit videos.

“What’s the next ridiculous step – interactive sports days on white boards?”

He added it would be better to invest in more equipment for traditional sports.