Pupils at St John Fisher Catholic College, Newcastle-under-Lyme, are embracing outdoor exercise to keep themselves in tip-top condition.

Fitness, wellbeing and mental health is a key priority for the school as children are settling back in after months away.

The school’s local Bee Active sports crew recently helped students officially launch the new outdoor gym equipment, along with local MP Aaron Bell.

Year 7 and 8 classes all experienced a bespoke one-hour circuit training session working with Callum from Bee Active. They explored each of the 16 outdoor gym stations as well as taking part in some mini competitions, generally having lots of fun.

The outdoor gym machines, which in total allow for 27 people to be exercising, complement the school’s recent walk-a-mile track and were purchased through the Government’s Covid-19 catch-up funding.

Head of School, Garrett Murray, said: “This Government grant affords our school a unique opportunity to ensure that we can undertake a project that is creative but also with sustainable impact following the pandemic.

“This project will benefit not just the current learners in building upon our school culture of wellbeing, but also future generations.”

Being situated in Newcastle-under-Lyme and with a diverse and wide-ranging catchment area, the school was eager to implement a sustainable project that would focus on health and overall wellbeing as well as bringing fun and something different to the school.

“Overall fitness, wellbeing and mental health is a key priority for our school, both in terms of the learners as well as the staff,” said Mr Murray.

“At the heart of all we do here is our Fisher Way, which ‘Aims to educate with love, joy and faith because we are an inclusive Catholic community’.

“We have regular initiatives dedicated to fostering a culture of wellbeing such as staff training sessions with education psychologists as well as working with an extensive range of external providers, such as the fantastic Father Hudson’s family support workers in supporting our learners.

“We are also waiting to hear the outcome of a recent CIF (Condition Improvement Fund) bid put in to build an entire new sports hall complete with full changing room facilities. If successful, this sports hall will also ensure the continuation of physical education and mental wellbeing for all the learners to come for many years, as well as the surrounding community.”

With regards the outdoor gym equipment the children have been overwhelmingly positive.

Bertie Evans in Year 8 remarked: “It will be really good having these stations to use at break and lunch as they will help with concentration as we return to lessons.”

Harry Hughes, also in Year 8, said: “They help to you get fit and it’s so good to be outside again after being in front of a screen for so long.”

Year 7 learner, Chloe Grice, was asked what she thought of the Bee Active session and the new equipment. Her response was simple. “Loved it!”

Another Year 7 learner, Will Jackson, agreed, saying he thought the whole sessions were “so much fun” and that his favourite machine was the “Double Slalom Skier”.

Perhaps the last word should go to Grace Harford, also in Year 7, who pretty much summed up everyone else’s sentiments when she said it was so great that “I wish I could stay out here longer!”

Pictured are: Sophie Harvey; Noah Kirkbride; Amelia Hassell; Luke Elkin-Oldham; Vincent Smith.