Based on these findings of the pilot project, the following key recommendations are suggested:
Develop a clear message on the purpose of the AEBSD programme, taking into consideration the evidence presented in the evaluation as to why pupils attended (e.g. learn new skills).
Whilst the primary outcome is currently designed to increase physical activity levels, focusing on more holistic outcomes such as social interaction, curriculum engagement, improved well-being of staff and pupils, qualities and experiences that result from taking part can motivate attendance which, in turn, increases physical activity.
Undertake continued evaluation of the AEBSD programme.
The evaluation should include objective measures (e.g. physical activity), and linking planning and evaluation together using recognised tools and approaches. This will also capture ongoing changes to the environment and developing children and young people as agents of their own health. Repetition of the same measures is advantageous to enable comparisons.
Develop a systems approach to the national implementation of the AEBSD programme.
As the school does not function in isolation, understanding the connections and impact of the programme with and on partners is important. Schools need to operationalise at a local level at the outset (e.g. with their local authority education leads), and then build to regional. This approach will also help bridge the gap between schools and community sports groups, but also consider where deficits in the community may occur as a result of the programme (e.g. local leisure centre gym membership).
Develop a AEBSD toolkit for schools.
The toolkit should set out a framework of ideas for how they become an active education setting. The toolkit could consider the following, non-exhaustive, ideas:
- Consultation with end-users, including those supporting attendance and attenders
- Create a pupil voice group
- Assessment of current provision to identify gaps
- Governance structure
- Communication methods, with suggestions of phrasing
- Arranging travel provision, including aiding active travel
- Equal opportunity across the ages to ensure the programme is inclusive
- Sustainability plans
Develop a sustainable funding model to support schools to initiate and continue the programme.
As schools have autonomy on how they deliver the programme, they should have autonomy on how the funding is spent. Successful implementation has funded provision through outsourcing external provision whilst others have funded equipment.