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People profile: Dan Gooding

Executive producer, BBC Super Movers

Published in Sports Management 2019 issue 2
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Dan Gooding says Super Movers is designed to be fun and inclusive
Dan Gooding says Super Movers is designed to be fun and inclusive

What is Super Movers?
Super Movers is an initiative being delivered by the BBC and the Premier League that aims to help teachers inspire primary school children to get active throughout the school day and beyond. It launched in January 2018.

Stars from the worlds of television, football and music appear in a series of short, active learning videos that are free, easy to use and, most importantly, fun!

There are over 100 curriculum-linked Brain Booster videos, which feature routines for children to copy and move, along with in class. Subjects covered include English, maths, science, PSHE, foreign languages and lots more. A good example might be Chelsea FC’s mascot, Bridget the Lioness, singing and dancing while teaching the two times table.

Children and grown-ups are encouraged to get active together at home too by using the suite of Just For Fun videos.

How do you encourage schools, kids and families to get involved?
Engagement has been achieved through a powerful mix of national promotion and awareness through TV broadcast and social media. This is combined with face-to-face outreach and engagement with teachers and schools via conferences, talks, talent searches and incentives like Super Movers Days and taking the Premier League Trophy into schools for a visit.

It’s been important to engage teachers in the development, refinement and delivery of the videos. This means they’re good! They’re educationally robust and simple for teachers to use in the classroom as part of regular lessons – no special equipment or PE kits are needed.

Also key is that Super Movers is fun! We’ve been very clear when we talk about Super Movers to highlight the positive effects of physical activity beyond the health benefits. For example, the fact that activity increases children’s ability to concentrate and enhances their mood and behaviour. It’s a message that we feel resonates with teachers, parents and children alike.

Super Movers is also inclusive; all of the routines are accessible and easy to do. We’ve had great feedback from teachers and schools working with children with special educational needs.

What types of outcomes have you seen the initiative produce?
In simple terms, the majority of teachers using Super Movers say it’s increased the amount of physical activity their students are doing in school and the ability of their class to stay on task.

We’ve also recently run a large-scale experiment with help from Loughborough University to test whether exercise can improve children’s brain speed.

We worked with over 1,000 primary school children in 17 schools nationwide. Pupils were split into two groups – both did a mental test and then while one group did more academic work, the other did Super Movers. Both then did another mental test.

The results showed that in 77 per cent of participating schools there was improvement in brain function following exercise. Exercise also improved the mood of all children in the study, notably boys. Brain speed improved by up to 19 per cent after exercise.

How does Super Movers overcome some of the main barriers to children being active?
Super Movers has always spoken with a positive tone of voice, and is fun and inclusive. Being physically active with Super Movers is not a chore and it doesn’t just appeal to those who are already physically active.

We’ve found, and firmly believe, that if you speak to children in a language that they understand and use actions that they feel are easy to adopt, then they’ll appreciate, and enjoy what you’re asking them to do. We never tell a child to get more active, we simply ask them to join in.

Equally, we are helping teachers to cement children’s learning and giving them another way to teach a learning objective at the same time as getting their children active. It’s an option for them rather than an imposition. It’s something they can build into their everyday teaching with ease.

How do you keep the initiative fresh and appealing for kids?
During the campaign’s lifetime we have consistently added fresh videos. We’ve focused on subject areas that teachers tell us they most need – more maths and more English. We’ve kept them fun like the times tables mash ups and added new mascots – especially utilising those from the freshly promoted clubs like Wolves, Fulham and Cardiff last season.

Check out Super Movers at www.bbc.co.uk/supermovers

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