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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 July, 2004, 11:31 GMT 12:31 UK
Drive to get school pupils moving
As part of a childhood fitness drive by the Scottish Executive, 600 active school co-ordinators have been employed to promote the benefits of physical activity to youngsters.

Playground games
Hundreds active school co-ordinators will be in place by 2007
Claire Peebles, a active schools coordinator with Stirling Council, details increased provision of physical activity for primary school children.

My earliest memory of physical education at school was not even in a gym hall or in a school playground. It was in a classroom.

A few of my classmates had been disruptive during the maths lesson and this was our punishment - no gym!

The happiest person in the class was probably the class teacher as taking us for a PE lesson was neither her favourite way to spend her time, nor her forte.

Outside school hours I don't recall any opportunities for girls to take part in any school sport teams and the boys were limited to the traditional football team of the biggest and best players.

This is far removed from the opportunities school children in Scotland have now.

A national initiative funded by the Scottish Executive and developed by sportscotland has witnessed the creation of over 600 Active Schools Co-ordinator posts across Scotland.

I am employed with Stirling Council as an Active Schools Co-ordinator with the remit of working with the 11 primary schools which feed into McLaren High School in Callander.

Playground games

The basic aim of my job is to get more children, more active, more of the time.

This involves providing opportunities for after school clubs, working with class teachers to promote the benefits of physical activity to youngsters and supporting the work of PE specialists within the allocated schools.

Claire Peebles
The basic aim of my job is to get more children, more active, more of the time
Claire Peebles
Stirling Council

It is also hoped that by increasing the levels of physical activity in primary school children, that the growing problem of childhood obesity in Scotland can be addressed.

The main areas I am currently looking to develop in the McLaren High School Cluster are The Class Moves, Playground Games, After School Clubs and Safer routes to schools.

The Class Moves consists of a number of themed exercises for use with primary school children with the aim of increasing motivation and concentration, raising physical awareness and sensorimotor development.

Playground games are introduced to primary school children to help get them more active. They can also act as a deterrant to behavioural problems in the playground during break times.

Many people equate physical activity to sport and there are obvious links, however encouraging a child to walk or cycle to school instead of being dropped off in their parents' car has obvious benefits for both the child and the environment.

Healthier population

Providing opportunities for children to take part in sport and physical activity after school hours or during lunch times also has added health benefits.

In Stirling we are now fortunate enough to have a full complement of six Active Schools Co-ordinators (primary) who cover all six school clusters across the Stirling Council area.

There is an integrated approach to Active Schools within Stirling, which involves me (as the Active Schools Co-ordinator - primary) working closely with the PE Specialist, Active Schools Co-Ordinator at McLaren High Sschool and Stirling Council's sports development team.

When you compare this set-up to the scenario of my experience at primary school, there have been so many positive developments in the provision of positive physical activity within schools.

Hopefully the results of this will be a healthier and more active population.

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