Anthony Mcbride, qualified teacher and co-founder of myphizz, shares his thoughts on the role technology can play in improving children’s physical and mental wellbeing in schools.
Physical activity among pupils fell dramatically during the pandemic, with more than 31% of children undertaking less than 30 minutes of exercise a day¹. This is a worrying contrast to Ofsted’s recommendations that children should engage in exercise for an average of at least 60 minutes per day across the week².
The immediate and long-term health benefits of physical activity are indisputable and there is a wealth of evidence to demonstrate that high quality physical education lessons reduce the symptoms of anxiety, depression and improve cognitive functioning in young people. Exercise has also been found to alleviate symptoms such as low self-esteem and social withdrawal.
In her speech at the Youth Sport Trust Conference, OFSTED chief inspector, Amanda Spielman said: “Schools and colleges have a vital role to play in inspiring the next generation to lead healthy, active lives and to build resilience. A good PE education can take each child down different pathways to find what they’re really good at. And on a bigger scale, it can take the whole of humanity forward.”
As a result, new technologies are emerging that will allow teachers to engage children in a more active curriculum and research has found that school closures in 2020, led to an explosive 71.5 per cent growth in the UK education technology sector³.
One of these new technologies is myphizz, a platform that myself and four colleagues (all qualified teachers and educational experts) have designed and built to help schools raise the quality and frequency of physical activity in a sustainable way.
The app encourages children to engage in a more active, healthier and happier lifestyle, providing them with the opportunity to set exciting challenges for one another and take part in physical activities that they enjoy. Challenges, or 'phizzes' as they're called, can range from a 100m sprint time to completing as many star jumps as possible in 15 seconds.
Launched in schools nationwide in September 2021, the app utilises a live leaderboard that provides children with the ability to set 'phizzes' in the classroom and compare results across the school, as well as nationally.
Writing in TES recently, Dr Tara Porter stated: “Finding a sport or form of exercise that they will pursue for the rest of their lives will have incalculable benefits in their mental and physical health, and reduce the burden on the NHS. Exercise is the single most important factor in warding off depression.”
Backed by a £320 million investment from the government, the Primary PE and Sport Premium encourages children to play more sport, increase their social skills and improve their physical activity after lockdown. A school's funding can be used to invest in tools such as myphizz, which will not only make pupils more motivated to exercise, it will also provide teachers with tangible data to show Ofsted that they are taking responsibility for pupils' wellbeing.
The app, which runs through secure schools networks and is only visible to school communities, has undergone numerous successful trials in schools earlier this year to test its ability to motivate children.
Siobhan Roe, teacher at St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, which has been trialling the app said: “myphizz has been a huge hit amongst our year three pupils - there’s been such a buzz in the classroom with every single pupil involved in creating, sharing and accomplishing activities. The children have rushed home to tell their parents all about their ‘phizzes’ and we can’t wait to see the rest of school enjoy it.
“The platform is so easy to use and I’ve found the images to describe the ‘phizzes’ really useful as it helps a lot of the children with their reading and spellings as they compare words and pictures. The mix of activities that can be set is incredible - we’ve used myphizz for practicing our times tables as well as challenging each other to do as many press-ups as possible! myphizz has opened up a world of fun activity and movements for our children.
It’s clear that major advancements in technology can facilitate student wellbeing and act as an enabler for inclusive practice; involving all children in physical activity, regardless of their abilities.
myphizz has recently been endorsed by The World Championship gold medallist and former World Junior Champion, Adam Gemili who felt compelled to get behind the app as he’s passionate about combating sedentary behaviour and improving mental wellbeing in young children, exacerbated by lockdown restrictions.
The use of technology assisted resources can also prove useful and act as a tool for self reflection. The benefits of apps such as myphizz, is that they allow teachers to monitor progression, and data gathered can be used to inform and tailor future planning and meet individual children’s needs. myphizz provides teachers with access to a functional control dashboard, which measures individual pupils’ activity levels and their development and progression.
myphizz is available to download from the Apple App Store, Google Play and can be accessed as a web-based application on PCs, mobiles and tablets,
To find out more about myphizz and register for a 30-day free trial visit www.myphizz.com.
Issued on behalf of myphizz by Lucky North, for further details please contact:
Source 1: Children's activity levels down but many embrace new opportunities | Sport England
Source 2: UK Chief Medical Officers' Physical Activity Guidelines (publishing.service.gov.uk)
Source 3: 4 edtech trends to look out for in schools next year | Tes News
Source 4: Exercise for children: How physical fitness benefits the brain (parentingscience.com)
Source 5: The national curriculum in England - Framework document (publishing.service.gov.uk)
Built by four teachers, turned entrepreneurs, myphizz is an exciting new platform to support schools in improving the mental and physical wellbeing of pupils.
The app encourages children to engage in a more active, healthier and happier lifestyle, providing the opportunity for them to take part in physical activities that they enjoy and set exciting challenges for one another.
The technology, which runs through secure schools networks and is only visible to school communities, can be accessed via PC, tablets or mobile phones. Teachers have access to a dashboard where they can view pupil activity, determine what is becoming popular and monitor the school growing healthier as a community.