Research project proves successful

HBCFCT Health and Sport Performance Manager Joe Payton hopes that the success of the Pau Te Hau pilot enables more school to introduce the programme into the curriculum.

A classroom-based physical exercise and movement research project involving eight Hawke’s Bay primary schools is set to continue next year based on initial outcomes and support from teachers and students.

Hawke’s Bay has been the trailblazer of the $1.3 million school fitness project led by Auckland University of Technology and supported locally by the Hawke’s Bay Community Fitness Centre Trust, following COVID19 bringing a halt to the Auckland part of the programme.

AUT Associate Professor Nigel Harris said over 300 Hawke’s Bay students at eight schools across Hawke’s Bay have been involved Pau Te Hau (Get Puffed) project which sees students spending 10-15 minutes doing exercises including observing their real-time heart rate measurements within a classroom setting.

Dr Harris says the Health Research Council funded programme aims to determine the effectiveness of embedding the teacher-delivered high-intensity interval training (HIIT) programme within the school health and physical education curriculum.

“Hawke’s Bay has ensured that the project hasn’t been completely impacted by COVID19. There was some disruption due to the lockdown in September but the schools decided to continue into the fourth term. We are now analysing the data that has been captured and we will be looking to release the full results in March or April next year.  It is very exciting that the schools, teachers and students enjoyed the classroom workouts and are keen to continue this as part of their curriculum. Essentially we want to help teachers with a practical programme that is easy to use so it becomes an integral part of the school week, and has meaningful impact on kids’ health and wellbeing,” says Professor Harris.

Pau Te Hau is designed for Year 5 to Year 8  students, to fit within 10 to 15 minutes in a classroom for two to three times per week. The relationship with Nigel Harris and the Pau Te Hau research project was via a pilot that was run in 2019. The 2019 pilot was funded by the Royston Health Trust and they have been a big supporter of the HBCFCT work in the research space ever since.

The objective is to achieve a target of 90 percent of estimated maximum heart rate for the students. Teachers do not need specific knowledge or sports skills to lead the sessions.

Students wear heart monitors, and their heart rate is displayed on the classroom screen with a customised app, which graphically shows whether they are hitting their target heart rate which provides strong motivation.

Many sessions are underpinned by Mātauranga Māori in the form of setting the exercise to traditional Māori stories, and the use of te reo.

HBCFCT Health and Sport Performance Manager Joe Payton hopes that the success of the Pau Te Hau pilot enables more schools to introduce the programme into the curriculum.

“We work with students in different programmes and we think that having an effective teacher-led programme that is easy to sustain is particularly valuable. Seeing the improvement in kids’ fitness levels is great but more importantly they are really keen to move and push themselves physically, which is really satisfying.”