Promoting physical health in education: Champions of wellbeing

As we build up to the announcement of our Top 10 finalists for the World’s Best School Prizes in June, we take a look back at some of the shining examples from past years that are Supporting Healthy Lives. Research shows the impact of physical activity on cognitive function and its ability to enhance attention, memory, and academic performance. This has a positive effect on equipping students with the tools needed to concentrate, absorb information, and excel academically.

The link between physical activity and mental wellbeing cannot be overstated. Exercise acts as a natural mood enhancer, releasing endorphins that alleviate stress and anxiety levels. By prioritising physical health in teaching settings, educators can create a positive classroom conducive to effective learning and equip students with strategies to manage academic pressures with resilience and ease.

Join us as we explore three standout schools from past editions of the World’s Best School Prizes, each pioneering remarkable health and wellness initiatives that integrate physical health into their educational framework, contributing to promoting physical health in education.

Rustenburg Girls’ High School – Rondebosch, Cape Town, South Africa

Rustenburg Girls’ High School is not just acing academics; they are champions of the field too! With a robust Sports Policy, this school ensures every student gets in the game, promoting not only fitness but also essential life skills like teamwork and time management.

From fostering national athletes to cultivating camaraderie, the school implemented a Sports Policy that has made sports compulsory for Grade 8 and 9 students. This policy has had a direct impact in contributing to its ongoing line of top-level, nationally, and internationally- recognised athletes, giving students the opportunity to choose from a wide range of sports, including both competitive and social options. Rustenburg is a playground for developing young minds and healthy bodies.

IMG Academy – Bradenton, Florida, USA

At IMG Academy, athleticism meets academics in a programme designed to develop the leaders of tomorrow. Their Athletic and Personal Development programme does not just play to win; it plays to develop resilience, focus, and leadership. By marrying physical training with life skills, IMG prepares student-athletes for the game and for life, making sure they thrive on and off the field.

Recognising that success in life, athletics, and academics goes beyond drills and memorisation, IMG Academy developed its curriculum and APD programme on the basis that its benefits, like leadership, optimism, focus, managing the fear of failure, and coachability, could indeed be taught through a well-balanced, well-structured approach. By immersing students in the programme, the school graduates three-dimensional beings, healthy in mind, body, and spirit.

Mathilde Anneke Comprehensive School – Muenster, Germany

Mathilde Anneke Comprehensive School in Muenster, Germany, champions an integrated approach to nurturing students’ physical health. With a robust curriculum, they ensure students engage in at least four hours of Physical Education (PE) per week, complemented by regular free play breaks encouraging movement throughout the school day, through innovative initiatives like the “Sportpaten” Project in collaboration with the University of Muenster, students receive personalised mentorship, empowering them to embrace an active lifestyle contributing to their overall wellbeing.

At Mathilde Anneke, physical vitality is not just exercise; it is part of daily life. Starting lessons with physical activities sparks enthusiasm and involvement. By valuing physical health alongside academic success, the school cultivates strong bodies and resilient minds, laying the foundation for lifelong well-being.

These institutions show that promoting physical health goes beyond traditional sports. It is about creating vibrant educational environments that uplift every student.

Incorporating physical activity into curriculums and fostering a culture that prioritises health empowers our students to succeed not just in class but also in their overall lives. Keep an eye out for our 2024 Top 10 announcement where we will uncover and highlight more amazing schools worldwide improving health and education.

Drawing inspiration from the remarkable initiatives of Rustenburg Girls’ High School, IMG Academy, and Mathilde Anneke Comprehensive School let us take the opportunity to refresh our approaches to physical education. By embracing inclusivity, fostering life skills development, and engaging with our communities, we can cultivate educational environments where every student flourishes, both physically and academically.