Move4words: Leeds pupils get physical and see improvements in classroom

WORD SMITHS: Pupils at Bankside Primary School, Harehills, Leeds, taking part in the Move4Words programme.

WORD SMITHS: Pupils at Bankside Primary School, Harehills, Leeds, taking part in the Move4Words programme.

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Youngsters at seven primary schools in Leeds are finding it easier to concentrate after starting each day with 15 minutes of exercise.

Pupils at the schools in Chapeltown and Harehills now perform the specially-devised physical activities – which teach them how to focus and pay attention in the classroom – at the start of each day.

The groundbreaking 12-week scheme, which is called Move4words, includes eye exercises, concentration on careful and accurate physical movement, development of rhythm and timing, breath-awareness exercises, listening skill development and relaxation.

And teachers at all seven schools said concentration, attention and learning had improved as a result.

Faiz Akhtar, Year 4 teacher at Bankside Primary in Chapeltown, said: “Move4words has become part of a routine creating a calmer learning environment at the beginning of the day.”

The programme was devised by former Leeds University researcher Dr Elizabeth McClelland after a brain virus left her unable to read.

After two frustrating years, a physiotherapist realised she had lost the ability to track her eyes from word to word along the line. She had to teach herself to read again with a series of eye exercises.

Dr McClelland went on to research the connection between sensory and physical abilities and learning abilities, before devising the scheme to help struggling readers.

Joanne Marshall, assistant headteacher for Years 3 and 4 at Harehills Primary Schools, said: “I find the children are more settled and ready to learn after doing the daily Move4words activity.”

The scheme has produced outstanding improvements in reading, writing and maths in Wigan, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Oxfordshire.

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