Family & Education

Why Nancy Reuben pupils are on the run

Primary school adopts Daily Mile programme to encourage healthier lifestyle


A new programme at Nancy Reuben Primary in Hendon aims to get children off to a healthy start to the day.

Pupils are encouraged to sign up to the Daily Mile, completing 13 laps of the school playground before lessons begin.

They can walk, jog or even scooter round. One child has brought a mini-bicycle.

The Daily Mile was originally the idea of a headteacher in Scotland, Elaine Willey, and Nancy Reuben adopted it after a parent heard about it on The Vanessa Feltz Breakfast Show on BBC Radio London.

“The aim of the Daily Mile is to improve the physical, social, emotional and mental health and wellbeing of children, regardless of age, ability or personal circumstances,” explained headteacher Anthony Wolfson. 

“With schools putting increasing emphasis on physical and mental health, this scheme, which costs nothing, encourages exercise and social interaction in the fresh air and reinvigorates the start of each school day.”

Deputy head Daniel Sunshine has added an extra element to the programme with the “Walking to Jerusalem” challenge. “Each pupil who signs up to the challenge commits themselves to walking one mile in the playground for a period of roughly three months,” he said. 

And there is an educational element to it. While Jerusalem is the eventual destination, children have to go through different cities in Europe along the way.

Each child is asked to choose a city and then give a presentation on it in assembly once they have reached it along their “trek”.

The school’s head of pastoral care and Jewish studies, Rabbi Joshua Conway, who was interviewed on the Vanessa Feltz show this week (the presenter has two grandchildren at the school) said it was already seeing the benefits.

“If children run, walk or skip just 15 minutes a day, roughly a mile, it will improve their focus, concentration and behaviour,” he said.

Some children, he added, were already asking parents “Please, please can I arrive to school earlier because we want more time to complete the laps.”

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