Ofsted Report on Obesity, Healthy Eating & Physical Activity in Primary Schools

20 Jul 2018

Dances’ role in tackling obesity and improving healthy living and physical activity in primary schools

On 18 July Ofsted published their report on Obesity, Healthy Eating & Physical Activity in Primary Schools.

Whilst there are some issues around the research methodology, the report does highlight some useful examples of how schools are using the curriculum to develop pupil’s knowledge and skills, in ways that could support healthy and active lifestyles.

We’re pleased to see that dance is specifically mentioned as a way in which all children can be active and as a means of enticing some who are less interested in competitive sport to engage with PE.

The report cites examples where dance is included in a school’s curricula to encourage girls to participate in physical activity and whilst it’s true that more girls do choose to dance then boys (48.6% of 5 to 10 year old girls compared to 11.2% of boys[1]) we advocate for the benefits of offering both boys and girls the opportunity to dance as part of their school life. Consulting with the children on the styles of dance they’re interested in and providing performance opportunities for them, are also likely to raise participation and increase skills and knowledge of pupils.

Dance, as a creative arts subject, can also be a vehicle for children to understand their bodies and explore health issues. A great example of this is the Challenge 59 Project recently delivered in East London, where pupils used dance to learn more about factors to improve health by making 59 second dance films to persuade their families and wider community to make healthy choices.

What we understand from the report is that children’s healthy living requires a multidimensional approach which includes a school curriculum rich in opportunities, as well as wider influences from home and society. We’d like to see dance play a bigger part in the fight against obesity both at school and in the community.

We work in partnership People Dancing to achieve our shared vision to reduce health inequalities and tackle inactivity through dance. We have joined forces to raise the profile of dance and to demonstrate that making dance more widely available is an effective way of responding to current issues across the Government’s health and wellbeing agenda in England. More information on this can be found here.


[1]DCMS Taking Part Survey Results 2016/17: