Sugar tax keeps kids on track for healthier lives

Sugar Awareness Week running track

Soft rubber track at Cubitt Town Infants' School

A school in Tower Hamlets has put keeping active at the top of its curriculum by installing a new running track in their playground, thanks to funding allocated by Tower Hamlets Council.

Cubitt Town Infants’ School is one of 43 schools in the borough that successfully applied for funding from money levied from the sugar tax, through the Healthy Pupils Capital Fund.

To mark National Sugar Awareness Week (20 - 26 January), the council is highlighting how money from the sugar tax has helped local schools to further improve their pupils’ health and wellbeing.

John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said:  “The Healthy Pupils Capital Fund is making an incredible difference to our schools, supporting our youngest residents to stay active and learn about healthy eating. We know that habits formed at school can last a lifetime, so it’s fantastic that this boost of funding is giving children the best start to a healthy life.”

Shehan Wijayaratne, PE Teacher at Cubitt Town Infants’ School, said: “The impact of our new running track has been wonderful. It has motivated the children to do more exercise and they even do laps of the track on their own during break times. We’ve also seen a big difference in concentration levels in classes immediately after breaks, so it has been a huge success story for us.”

The 63 metre, soft rubber track has provided a dedicated space for pupils to take part in the Daily Mile, an initiative encouraging school children to run, jog or walk a mile every day to keep fit and active. Since installing the track, the school has also signed up to the ‘Marathon Kids – Kids Run Free’ initiative, which challenges children to run 42 kilometres over the course of a year.

Other successful school bids in the borough have helped projects including a school garden for growing and cooking fruits and vegetables, a soft play area to encourage active play and the installation of water fountains.  

Manorfield Primary School is one of two schools in the borough that have used the funding to install kitchen facilities for pupils. This has made cooking part of the curriculum, helping children to build a healthy relationship with food.

Along with growing herbs and vegetables in the school garden and reducing food waste at lunchtime with a new composting system, the school is working towards achieving the Food for Life silver award, which assesses how schools transform their food culture.

Paul Jackson, Headteacher at Manorfield Primary School, said: “We are committed to a creative curriculum at Manorfield and a teaching kitchen is core to its successful delivery. We think this will be a resource for pupils and the local community for years to come.” 

Posted on Wednesday 22nd January 2020