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Last Updated: Monday, 28 January 2008, 11:23 GMT
Wii consoles used in 'virtual PE'
Man playing a Wii game
A Wii was bought for each school taking part in the project
Nintendo Wii consoles are being used in schools to encourage pupils who would otherwise skip PE lessons to get fit.

Four Worcestershire high schools have taken up the scheme which sees children using the consoles to simulate actions of real sports, such as tennis.

Those behind the project said they found using the games also improved pupils' behaviour and teamwork skills.

The lottery-funded scheme follows a similar project involving dance mats that ran in the county for four years.

The project, run by the Droitwich and Worcester City School Sport Partnership, has already won a national school sports award and has been backed by the Department for Health.

'Non-traditional'

Each high school that takes part in the project identifies pupils between the ages of 14 and 16 who have often missed PE lessons.

A Wii console was bought for each school, along with heart rate monitors to show how much physical activity the teenagers were getting from using the consoles.

A spokesman for the partnership said: "We needed to think differently - non-traditional, innovative and appealing to their existing interests.

Pupils would be far better doing serious competitive sports and games than this sort of thing
Nick Seaton
Campaign for Real Education

"The use of computer games to increase physical activity levels and raise attainment to some would seem contradictory, but with rigid structures in place, and by using specific games, students soon found themselves being active and engaged almost without realising it."

A Department of Health spokesman said the project could be "the first step" towards getting more young people to take exercise.

The spokesman said: "We welcome the positive impact that innovations like these can have as a first step towards getting people to participate in a broader range of physical activities."

However, education campaigners insisted the consoles should not become a replacement for conventional activities.

Nick Seaton, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, said: "Pupils would be far better doing serious competitive sports and games than this sort of thing."



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