Centre of Expertise Urban Vitality

Physical Activity In and Around School

Children and young people are getting less and less exercise. 23% to 40% are struggling with obesity. Physical Education teachers have a significant role to play in tackling this issue. The Physical Activity In and Around School Professorship is researching the impact of PE teachers on the motor, cognitive and social development of children and young people in the greater Amsterdam area.

Through the MAMBO cohort, every year the professorship analyses the motor skills of 5,000 primary-school pupils from 30 different schools across Amsterdam. The analyses conducted by the AUAS researchers and students reveal that approximately 33% of these children have moderate or serious motor delays. This does not improve with age – on the contrary: almost 65% of the children in Group 3 (the first grade of primary school) with a moderate motor delay still have this delay three years later, or will even have developed a serious delay by then.

Measuring tool and care pathway

The Professorship in Physical Activity In and Around School focuses on rendering children’s motor development measurable by giving PE teachers a reliable, valid and practical measuring tool. The professorship is also developing a care pathway for children with motor delays in which PE teachers work with other professionals, such as youth healthcare physicians. For more information, see the ‘Gymmermansoog’ project.

The role of Physical Education teachers

Over the next few years, the professorship’s solid foundation will be deepened and expanded by researching the role of PE teachers in exercise in and around schools, and potential opportunities for them to make joint interventions with other professionals that they are currently not yet, or only barely, working with. The stronger the network facilitating children's healthy development, the greater the chance of lifelong physical activity and fitness. As the old adage goes, ‘it takes a village to raise a child’.

Published by  Urban Vitality 30 October 2023