Rishi Sunak took to the track to help a Richmond primary school boost its activity levels.
The MP joined pupils, staff and the mayor of Richmond to formally declare open a new all-weather running surface at the town’s Methodist Primary School.
The track circles the school’s playing field and provides opportunities for staff, pupils and parents to be more physically active throughout the year.
Headteacher Sharon Stevenson said the initiative was a silver lining in the cloud of the pandemic.
She said: “After the first lockdown we looked at how we could do more learning outdoors and we have also become more aware of the importance of exercise for everyone’s physical and mental well-being.
“Because of our Yorkshire weather, the playing field is effectively not available to us between November and March but the all-weather surface solves that problem.”
Mrs Stevenson said the opportunity to use the track was being built into the school day by the introduction of active breaks from lessons. Every pupil in Years 1-6 was also being supplied with an activity tracker to encourage them to monitor their exercise levels.
Mr Sunak opened the new track with head girl Isla Jenkinson and head boy Noah Brown before doing some circuits with pupils, Mrs Stevenson and the mayor of Richmond, Cllr Lorraine Hodgson.
He also took part in a Q&A session with some Year 6 pupils.
He said: “This is a superb initiative and it was great to join everyone on the track to celebrate this very welcome addition to the school’s facilities.
“It is so praiseworthy that exercise is being integrated into the school day with the pupils encouraged to get fitter with all the benefits that brings. I congratulate everyone involved in making this happen.”
Mrs Stevenson said the track and the pupils activity trackers were funded from the school’s budget but support from North Yorkshire County Council advisors Adrian Clarke and Steve Ward had been invaluable in drawing up the school’s approach to outdoor learning and activity.
She also thanked school business leader Laura Hudson and PE curriculum leader Joe Larder for their drive and enthusiasm throughout the project.
She added: “It was a wonderful day for the school. Rishi was so warm and encouraging with the children during the running and his answers during the Q&A session were brilliant – the children were so interested and engaged.
“He was very motivational and definitely inspired our year 6s.”