Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a significant rise in the number of people experiencing poor mental health, resulting in a national crisis. This has been particularly evident in adolescents with the Lockdown Lowdown, a survey carried out by Young Scot, reporting that 39% of young people who responded were ‘moderately or extremely concerned about their mental wellbeing’, and 46% worried about that of people around them (Young Scot, 2020; Scottish Government 2021).
As teachers, we have a duty of care to all of our pupils whether they are in front of us in the classroom, or at home learning remotely. Our responsibility to fulfil the health and wellbeing needs of our pupils is at the forefront of the Scottish Government’s National Improvement Framework (Scottish Government, 2010; Scottish Government, 2021). For this reason, we chose this to be the focus of our practitioner inquiry.
During remote learning, pupils have been exposed to much greater screen time than they would normally experience throughout the school day. Studies have shown than this can result in inadequate sleep, problems with vision and decreased academic performance (Lissak, 2018). There has also been a notable lack of exercise in their daily routine. By combining the consideration of the benefits of exercise on both physical and mental wellbeing detailed in previous studies (Rowley, Mann, Steele, Horton & Jimenez, 2018), and our desire to decrease pupils’ screen time, we decided to incorporate daily walks into our online lessons.
The aim of this inquiry was to incorporate daily walks into our digital remote learning lessons to improve pupil wellbeing. In addition, an effort was made to decrease pupils’ daily screen time and encourage them to spend time outside where possible during the government’s ‘stay at home’ message.