Pupils at a Kirklees primary school are assessed by Sporting Age

An innovative digital solution has been launched by a leading Yorkshire educational technology company to improve movement skills among young people as part of the Covid-19 recovery.

Huddersfield-based Sporting Age are working with schools and activity providers to implement Smart Motion, one of two new programmes aimed at shaping bespoke plans to improve individual school groups based on data.

Sporting Age have launched a regional campaign to line up quality assured partners for Smart Motion, an online software system which first assesses movement skills among pupils before creating a series of lesson plans to bring measured improvement within the group.

Building on their history in delivering physical activity solutions based on strong educational and sporting experience through using innovative edtech solutions, Sporting Age have a long term aim to work with schools and physical activity providers across the country to grow its impact on developing movement skills at key junior school ages.

Smart Motion tracks movement levels among young people at Key Stage 2 aged 7 to 11, incorporating school years 3 to 6, providing detailed information to shape specific interventions for the group’s needs to improve results in key metrics around movement and development.

After assessing the entire group, Smart Motion allows users to create differentiated activity programmes for the cohort, with additional recommended support for those who have specific needs.

Sporting Age have also launched Smart Prism, a physical learning programme for younger children in  Reception  and Key Stage 1, covering school years 1 and 2. Under the guidance and expertise of early years specialist Helen Battelley, Smart Prism has been developed using evidence-based research to raise physical development and movement levels.

As well as bringing physical benefits, both systems are aimed at increasing confidence in children’s abilities and boost social interaction and transferable skills. The Sporting Age team believe their solutions can play their part in the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, which saw child physical activity levels drop and movement skills deteriorate during lockdown.

A Sport England report showed most young people failed to meet the recommended 60 minutes of daily exercise in the 2019/20 academic year. Almost a third of children (2.3m) were classed ‘inactive’ amid lockdown restrictions, not even doing 30 minutes per day, up by 2.5%.

Sporting Age, who have their HQ at The John Smith’s Stadium in Huddersfield, are now building up a network of partners across Yorkshire and Humberside, ahead of plans to roll out Smart Motion across the UK. The launch of the new solution builds upon the heritage of Sporting Age, who formed in 2016 to address the declining movement skills of young people in primary schools.

Working with leading educational experts and physical education practitioners, Sporting Age combine significant experience and expertise from working PE teachers with science and technology to enhance movement skills in schools.

Sporting Age CEO Shaun Fox believes the launches can bring significant benefits for schools and activity providers looking to implement a methodical improvement in whole school movement levels  following the impact of Covid-19.

He said: “Everyone at Sporting Age is driven by a goal of transforming movement skills for young people through technology, so we are excited by the benefits which Smart Motion and Smart Prism can bring to users and their groups.

“By focusing purely on movement skill development and building on baseline assessments, Smart Motion can provide stage-appropriate differentiated lesson plans and scientifically produced evidence of progress, all in one place, which can bring massive enhancements following Covid.

“With both systems the number one priority for the Sporting Age platform has been to create a user-friendly experience for partners and teachers, which means no prior technical knowledge is required. Backed with secure data set-ups, we are able to give partners a robust tool to bring measured improvements, which is an exciting opportunity to share across the UK.”

Sporting Age have begun visiting potential partners as part of a series of “road trips” across the Yorkshire and Humberside regions. Director of Operations Andrea Springthorpe said: “Working with quality assured partner organisations, we want as many young people and schools as possible to benefit from our combined expertise, experience and passion for movement and its associated benefits of increased attainment, progress and wellbeing.

“The development of partner training programmes ensures that the data collated is reliable, consistent and robust. Partners can become the recognised Movement Experts in their identified territories. This adds significant value to their PE and Sport offer for schools.”

Director of Education Jonny Nolan said: “It is encouraging to have received so much positive feedback from our current partners and people looking to adopt our solutions.

“We have begun meeting with potential partners across Yorkshire and Humberside, with a view to then building up a network across the country. We recognise how much physical activity has been impacted by Covid and the resulting lockdowns, so we want to help raise levels of movement and participation to bring long term benefits to children’s health.”

As part of the development of Smart Motion Sporting Age have partnered with West Yorkshire-based community interest company Legacy Sport. Nathan Auty, director of Legacy Sport, said: “We have seen real benefits from implementing Smart Motion as it has allowed us to get meaningful data about groups of young people which we have then translated into programmes which led to significant improvements in movement and fitness.

“Being able to report back the findings and take an informed view on shaping a plan has been a massive step forward so we look forward to further implementing its success.”

Sporting Age are looking to speak with sports activity providers across Yorkshire and Humberside.