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Children with afternoon break at school ‘are fitter and perform better in exams’

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Afternoon breaks were once a standard part of a child’s school day. Photo / Courtesy

Afternoon breaks could make children fitter and do not take away from learning, research suggests. Researchers from Swansea University looked at more than 5,000 primary-school students from across Wales.

They found those who had playtime in the afternoon, as well as a morning and lunchtime break, could run further. This is compared to the youngsters who only had morning and midday breaks.

Critics argue too many breaks take away from time in the classroom. However, the researchers also found the children who spent longer on the playground performed just as well academically.

Afternoon breaks were once a standard part of a child’s school day, academics behind the study wrote in The Conversation.  However, concerns over poor behaviour and a lack of time in the classroom means they are now few and far between.

This is despite studies showing that playtime can play a critical role in a child’s development.

To learn more, the researchers looked at 5,232 students who attended 56 primary schools across Wales as part of their HAPPEN (Health and Attainment of Pupils in a Primary Education Network) project.

Of these students, 1,413 (27 per cent) did not have an afternoon break. Perhaps surprisingly, those from affluent areas were the most likely to miss out, with 36 per cent not having any ‘time out’ after lunch.

This is compared to 28 per cent of the least deprived children and 17-to-20 per cent of those in the ‘middle group’.

The youngsters who did get to run around in the afternoon were fitter, with both boys and girls being able to run further and do more ’rounds’ in the bleep test.

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