Exploring implementation of a nationwide requirement to increase physical activity in the curriculum in Danish public schools: a mixed methods study
BACKGROUND: In 2014, the Danish Government introduced a wide-ranging school reform that applied to all public schools in Denmark. A distinctive feature of the reform was that it became mandatory to implement an average of 45 min of daily physical activity within the curriculum. Using the RE-AIM framework as an evaluation tool, the objective of the current study was to evaluate the reach, effectiveness, adoption, implementation, and maintenance of mandatory physical activity within the curriculum at ten Danish schools.
METHODS: A complementary mixed-methods approach using accelerometers, questionnaires, and semi-structured interviews was conducted. A total of 10 schools were invited to participate, including 846 students, 76 teachers, and 10 school managers on various levels. Students were invited to wear an accelerometer for seven consecutive days. Teachers were invited to participate in a questionnaire, and school managers were encouraged to take part in a semi-structured interview.
RESULTS: Results showed that, on average, 45.2% of the students were active at least 45 min daily within the curriculum. Teacher and school management interest in physical activity, competencies development, and shared decision-making were identified as central factors for adoption of the requirement. Scheduling physical activity within scheduels and collaborations with external parties were found to influence implementation. Finally, internal coordination, motivated school staff, and school management priority were identified as central factors for maintenance.
CONCLUSIONS: This study provides an evaluation on a nationwide physical activity requirement in Danish public schools. When introducing a wide-ranging nation-wide requirement on physical activity within the curriculum, school managers need to prioritize and support the implementation process. Teachers need to be involved in the decision processes in order to ensure motivation and local ownership. The study also highlights the benefits of an internal coordinator as well as development of a shared strategy among schools, municipalities, and other stakeholders in order to succeed with the implementation.
Koch, S., Pawlowski, C. S., Skovgaard, T., Pedersen, N. H., & Troelsen, J. (2021). Exploring implementation of a nationwide requirement to increase physical activity in the curriculum in Danish public schools: a mixed methods study. BMC Public Health, 21(1), 2073. doi:10.1186/s12889-021-12152-2