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Fit to Study Evaluation

Children playing football
Published: September 2019

Testing whether increasing students’ physical activity can lead to improved cognition and academic attainment.

Aim

The Fit to Study Evaluation aimed to test whether the Fit to Study intervention could work at scale, supporting a large number of schools to increase the physical activity of Year 8 students in order to benefit academic attainment. Previous studies had suggested that increasing students’ physical activity can lead to improved cognition and academic attainment.

Findings

  • The evaluation found no evidence to suggest that Fit to Study had an impact on Year 8 pupils’ maths outcomes, including pupils eligible for free school meals.
  • Generally, PE teachers struggled to implement Fit to Study as required, especially in lessons where skill development was a priority or large amounts of equipment were in use.
  • Attendance at the initial face-to-face training was poor. Participants who did attend felt the training was too theoretical in focus and lacked focus on how the intervention should be delivered in practice.
  • Additionally, teachers reported that there were instances where Fit to Study disrupted lesson flow.
  • Despite the implementation issues experienced by teachers, the majority of schools said they would recommend Fit to Study as a way to promote physical exercise.

Methodology

Fit to Study was evaluated using a randomised controlled trial involving 104 schools and 8,707 students. Maths attainment was measured using the Progress Test in Mathematics. Alongside the impact evaluation, a mixed-methods process study explored implementation and teachers’ responses through observations of training sessions and PE lessons, interviews with staff, and a teacher survey.