The UK's most popular teacher says schools and politicians have to tackle problem of overweight pupils
The poor health of Scotland’s children needs to be tackled urgently, one of the country’s top teachers has begged.
Elaine Wyllie, who was voted Teacher of the Year at the 2015 Pride of Britain Awards, told Children in Scotland’s annual conference the situation has now become an “emergency”.
With some of the worst child obesity rates in Europe she called on Scottish politicians and those involved in education to do something quickly about the problem and to find ways to improve children's mental wellbeing.
Wylie, who has retired since receiving her award, flagged up her own Daily Mile scheme as one possible way to get children more active.
There is an emergency in children’s health in Scotland, which must be addressed
At St Ninians Primary School in Stirling, where she was headteacher, she made time during every school day for each child to run or walk one mile around the playground.
The 15-minute programme, which helped her scoop her best teacher gong, has since been adopted by other schools across Scotland.
“There is an emergency in children’s health in Scotland, which must be addressed,” Wylie said.
“We need new thinking on how to get our children active and engaged in physical activity – and schools and nurseries across the country hold the key.
“The introduction of the Daily Mile in schools has proven to have a number of benefits. With no costs associated for the families and conducted during the school day, it can help overcome issues around time and money which have been highlighted as barriers for some families.”
One in six Scottish children aged 2 to 15 are obese according to the most recent Scottish Health Survey.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has also found that Scotland ranks fifth highest out of 17 countries for overweight children.
Jackie Brock, chief executive of Children in Scotland, said: “Scotland’s record on child health is woeful compared to other western nations and in significant areas, such as obesity, mental health and low birth weight, it is not improving.
“We urge the Scottish Government, and all politicians, to place child health at the heart of their policies going forward and work across government departments to ensure our children and young people are supported in their healthy development.”