Active Schools in different parts of the world: inspiration from Denmark, China, Macau and Spain


By Hilal Erkoca, ISCA

ISCA’s MOVE Transfer Europe-China project is developing individual competencies and organisational networks that will drive sport participation and mutual relations forward between China and the EU. In this article series, we look at the different settings our European and Chinese partners are focusing on locally and across continents to deliver physical activity initiatives. After all partners gathered in-person in Budapest last October, the Covid-19 crisis forced all 2020 exchanges online. But the activities have continued, and the European-Chinese model of online collaboration is unique in grassroots sport.

In this article, we profile the work our partners are doing in the setting ‘Active schools – after school physical activities, school sport events and active transportation’.

Photo: Danielle Cerullo

Programme and organiser: Active Breaks, Finn Berggren, Danish teachers' education, Denmark

Danish teachers’ education international advisor Finn Berggren is sharing Playful Learning Methods from the Danish school system through the MOVE Transfer Europe-China project. Playful Learning is a partnership between university colleges and the LEGO Foundation. The purpose is to develop a playful and physically active approach to development and learning at schools. The Danish School Reform in 2014 stated that every child needs 45 minutes of daily physical besides the traditional PE lessons. One of the results of the Reform is the extension of the school day in Denmark with after school activities.

According to Finn, the national evaluation of the Reform after four years is not so impressive. Even though there is more physical activity now, the students are not showing enough positive progress in their academic subjects. In addition, the majority of the students are unhappy with the longer school day. The Reform has made the school day too long, according to 50 percent of parents with children in the public school system in a poll carried out by Gallup for Berlingske. However, a majority of the parents in the survey were still broadly in favour of the Reform.

He also explained the current Covid-19 effects on schools and PE in Denmark: All schools are running at the moment with normal PE, however he thinks that Denmark is in a critical situation because the government might have to introduce local restrictions in 18 different municipalities. He explains that the new strategy is to act locally instead of closing down the whole country.

Some schools in Denmark (less than 10) have asked specific classes to stay home due to Covid-19 due to the virus spreading at parties, but this has not had a significant impact on the overall return to school or PE after the summer.

Programme and organiser: Smart Classroom Project, Mei Wang, China Institute of Sport Science, Shanghai, China

East China University of Science and Technology is a multi-discipline university located in Shanghai under the direct supervision of the Education Ministry of China. The faculty is responsible for all the PE courses of the university, coaching the university sports teams, assisting the community in providing public services, providing consultancy to the government, and conducting research in sports management, health promotion, and material engineering.

Xuhui Sports Bureau is the government department of Xuhui District Shanghai responsible for all the sports related affairs. The Bureau oversees four sports schools that provides sports training to young athletes, kids, coaches and PE teachers in the district.

Coordinator Mei Wang explains that these partners are currently working on a Smart Classroom Project which involves innovating the traditional classroom and designing new courses that can fit into a classroom setting. By innovating the school classroom, they are showing how schools can create bigger spaces for exercise. They are also designing some programmes to train the PE teachers.

Programme and organiser: Training for PE teachers, Lei Si Man, Faculty of Education, University of Macau

Lei Si Man has underlined the importance of training PE teachers and explained how they train the Physical Education Teachers at the University of Macau.

After graduation, the graduate students get their license to work at school as a PE teacher. If the teachers would like to organise different activities and programmes, they need to apply for a grant or permission.

The sports federation also provides training and the sports development bureau offers different professional development courses for the coaches who want to organise activities and trainings. These kinds of activities give the students the chance and opportunity to develop their potential from another educational perspective, not only focus on academic fields like language and maths. It also encourages them to build a more active community.

Programme and organiser: Active School Leaders, Andreu Raya Demidoff, Deporte para la Educación y la Salud (DES), Spain

In Spain, Andreu Raya Demidoff and his team at DES are working on a programme to train Active School Leaders (teachers, school teams, children and families) to promote physical activity and its benefits in the community. The training is based on the development of skills and tools like identifying stakeholders, strategic planning, assertive communication, management, marketing and other ways of promoting physical activity.

Why train active school leaders? Because, action is needed inside the school. And advocacy outside the school helps both to bring positive change to the schools and to society!