In the summer of 2015 a researcher from Oxford University worked with pupils from Year 5 to investigate the effect of PE on concentration levels in the classroom.
There is a well known and established link between playtime and subsequent levels of concentration. Briefly, researchers have shown that if children have an active playtime they concentrate better in their next lesson. When we were approached to take part in this study we were interested to see if there were any implications for the frequency, the pattern and the nature of both playtimes and PE lessons. If having more play and PE, or more active play and PE, could be shown to help children do better in class then we might have to change our daily routines.
In this study a number of the children were asked to wear electronic devices to measure their activity throughout the day. The researcher spent two weeks in the classroom observing the children; she watched them working both before and after breaks and PE; she also asked both the children themselves and their teacher about their work.
This was only a small scale study, but the conclusion was clear that PE does have a beneficial effect on concentration, though in a different way from playtimes.