“Move your class”, the success of a daily sports pill in Rennes

Warm-up, activity, stretching… Every day, more than 500 school children from Rennes and the surrounding area take part in a simple but effective sports session, as part of the “Move” program launched by Stade Rennes.

“From the start of the school year, primary school students will exercise for 30 minutes every day,” President Emmanuel Macron promised in Marseille this week. According to the government, thousands of schools have already responded to the invitation. But in practice it is not so simple.

Cédric Sortais, teacher of a CE2-CM1 class in a priority education district of Rennes, and Dominique Heude, teacher of a CM1 class and director of a private school in Orgères, near Rennes, could not achieve, with activities in the gymnasium or in the swimming pool, the three hours a week of exercise already planned in the programs.

Both have therefore joined “Move your class”, a program inspired by a Scottish example and launched at the beginning of the 2021 school year by Stade Rennes, which is stepping up actions to combat the sedentary lifestyle at all ages.

For this first year, the club selected 18 classes, which in the fall developed 15-minute sports sessions with verb-based activities (run, jump, throw, juggle, etc.).

And since January, the 18 teachers follow a weekly program drawn up by one of the classes. A common platform makes it possible to share images from the sessions, as well as to receive a weekly video message encouraging a club player.

– “More energy to work” –

In Dominique Heude’s class, sports are started at the beginning of the day: the children put their school bag in the classroom and run on the bumpy asphalt of the playground to warm up.

Then comes the activity. This morning: pick up. Divided into teams, the children take turns collecting studs scattered around the yard. A few quick stretches and everyone will be in class.

“After working out, we have more energy to work and for the rest of the day,” says Adam (10).

“We are all ready at the same time, we did an activity together and we go out together for a day”, Dominique Heude exults.

In Cédric Sortais’ class, sports take place at the beginning of the afternoon, when the children often return excited from a long lunch break.

There, the warm-up is more extensive, led by two injured students who also help set up the cones and hoops for the activity course. The verb: slalom.

At the end, Cédric Sortais takes the time to gather everyone in a circle, eyes closed, for a few minutes before stretching.

– “It is quiet” –

“I like it, it calms down,” says Josaphat, 8 years old. Stecia (10) prefers to spend time in class. But “if I’m not exercising, I can’t relax,” she notes.

“It is important for children to ritualize things. Like dictation, mental calculation, sport becomes a ritual,” explains Cédric Sortais.

The keys to success: motivated teachers, a simple program to apply with the available resources and an organized competition between the participants.

But for the two teachers, it’s hard to imagine generalizing the experience. For the time being, Stade Rennes wants to double the number of participating classes next year and is counting on the example given within each location.

Several teachers are interested in Dominique Heude’s school, just like the other students, who hear their comrades every morning. But the 15 minutes of “Buge” or the 30 minutes of President Macron cannot “become an order,” he warns.

“We are going to run into material conditions. I find it hard to imagine my ten lessons in the morning all together on the playground, it would be a bit like North Korea,” the teacher notes. “But nothing is impossible. When the team is ready, we will organize ourselves”.