School by school, step by step, activity by activity, the Schools in Motion programme is working to further integrate physical activities throughout the school day.
The Schools in Motion programme aligns with the national Estonia 2035 strategy which names smart and active people who care for their health as one of its top five goals. It also aligns with the Education 2035 strategy which has a primary goal to promote well-being (i.e. building learner self-efficacy, self-esteem, life skills, social competences and mental and physical health). Consequently, the Schools in Motion programme is well placed to enjoy government support.19
The programme supports schools in integrating physical activities into every school day, including active travel to and from school, as well as movement during and in between lessons, both in and out of doors. It helps the movement gain a greater foothold in school culture.
The Schools in Motion programme seeks to ensure that students:
and that in school:
The programme also supports the well-being of teachers, for example, through walk-and-talk meetings, joint workouts, and the recognition of teachers for their contribution to building a schools-in-motion culture.
Schools are invited to develop their vision of enhancing student and staff well-being by becoming more physically active both individually and collectively. As a first step, participating schools are asked to undertake a self-evaluation that focuses on physical movement and this in relation to the entire school community. The self-evaluation references points in relation to movement are school cooperation and networking, school indoor and outdoor spaces, recess, academic lessons, physical education, as well as travel to and from school.
As a consequence, many schools have changed timetables and increased the length of recesses. Additionally, dancing, playing games, going outdoors, and exercising during recess are an official part of school timetables. Students are more engaged in planning and leading activities for fellow students and themselves. Hundreds of ideas for integrating physical activities throughout the school day have been uploaded onto the programme website.
The programme supports schools in thinking through how reconceptualised spaces, both indoors and outdoors, can foster increased physical activities in diverse settings. It provides seminars and workshops for school teams, teachers, school governors and students.
Networking activities include school visits and exchange-of-experience seminars. The programme website offers schools a general framework for integrating physical movement into school life, practical ideas including the schools’ own best practices, and research evidence.
In 2016, there were 10 schools participating in the programme. In 2021, there are 148 participating schools (28% of all general education schools) with more than 63 000 students.
Ongoing action research is used to monitor and reflect on programme implementation and enhancement as required.20 Based on self-evaluations, schools report that student access to at least 20 minutes of active recess has increased from 37% in 2018 to 67% in 2020. In a similar positive vein, in 2018 only 4% of participating schools agreed that students themselves actively organise activities during recess, whilst in 2020 that figure stood at 37%. In 2016, no pilot schools had outdoor recesses. By 2018, 54% of all participating schools offered outdoor recess, whilst in 2020, outdoor recesses were held in 74% of those schools.
Finally, in 2019, the Schools in Motion received the #BeActive Education Award 2019 from the European Commission.
The next chapter reviews entrepreneurship education and how this has taken on the broader aim of helping students develop a sense of initiative and an entrepreneurial mindset. These are central to encouraging student agency.