'Daily mile' takes small steps in Fochriw school

Daily Mile pupils in Fochriw
Image caption Pupils at Fochriw walk or run a mile every day

It is 2pm at Fochriw Primary school and that means it is time for the 114 children to leave the classroom and head outside.

Every day come rain or shine the pupils aged from three to 11 run or walk a mile around the school playground. The idea is quite simple - to get the children outside and exercising with their friends.

The teachers at the school in Caerphilly county say all the children enjoy their daily walk or run.

It is having a big impact on their health and fitness but also some unexpected benefits for the children's concentration levels and even their behaviour in class.

Bethan George, Fochriw's healthy schools leader says all the teachers have noticed a difference.

"We have seen that the children are much more focussed in the afternoon after doing the Daily Mile, also the children's behaviour is very positive in the afternoon.

"The children are much more focused and motivated for the last session of the afternoon when we do it. The Daily Mile has made a big difference, most definitely."

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Media captionPupils and parents at Fochriw Primary School can see the benefits

The Daily Mile began life five years ago at Stirling in Scotland. Primary school head teacher Elaine Wyllie was concerned about her pupils' lack of fitness and she decided to ask the children to walk or run a mile every day.

"The Daily Mile began with a one-month trial and overnight the results were startling," she said.

"While many children could not initially manage the one-mile run, within four weeks almost everyone was able to and, just as importantly, the children enjoyed it."

Ms Wyllie has retired from teaching and devotes her time to spreading the Daily Mile message to schools across the UK - and now it is being picked up by schools here in Wales.

Chairman of the governors at Fochriw Primary School Samantha Harwood said parents were initially worried about their children taking part in the Daily Mile. Some were concerned it might be too much for the smallest children.

"I'm a parent with children in the Foundation Phase and we were a little bit worried - were they going to be too tired? Are they too young to be doing that?"

She said everyone was now on board and could see the difference it was making.

'It's brilliant'

Parent Gemma Hughes has two children at the school - both girls suffer from asthma. She says the Daily Mile has helped her daughters.

"It keeps them fit and healthy, it's really good for them. It's good that the school offers something like this for them."

Dad Gareth Howells said: "It's brilliant for them, it's exercise, it keeps them active and they really enjoy it."

Daily Mile Cymru has been launched and with more and more schools across Wales taking part, in time the daily mile could become as important a part of the school day as maths and English.

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