Creating Active Schools framework: A tool for bringing whole systems approaches to life

Creating Active Schools framework: A tool for bringing whole systems approaches to life

Posted: Wed, 27 Apr 2022 09:07

Creating Active Schools framework: A tool for bringing whole systems approaches to life

Josh Lenthall, Strategic Children & Young People Manager explains how the new Creating Active Schools framework supports a whole system approach in Oxfordshire schools:

'Whole systems approach' is a much-used phrase at the moment, and I fear could run the risk of being considered too conceptual or theoretical in the hustle and bustle of every day working life to be applied to real life situations.

In simple terms, a whole systems approach:

  • Aims to tackle root causes of societal issues in a way that lasts over the long term
  • Embraces all the messiness and complexity of our world today
  • Draws anyone and everyone who can help into the process

Local examples of this work

Oxfordshire County Council Public Health lead on a Whole Systems Approach to Healthy Weight that rather than applying short term solutions to issues such as childhood obesity, instead acknowledges the myriad of factors at play and begins to work through them with a wide range of partners.

When the opportunity to pilot the Creating Active Schools framework (referenced as CAS for the rest of this piece) came up, Active Oxfordshire was only too pleased to sign up alongside North Oxfordshire School Sport Partnership (NOSSP) and Oxfordshire County Council Public Health as it presented a great opportunity to put 'systems thinking' into action.

A shift in thinking

CAS takes us beyond the realms of short-term grants and projects to support physical activity in schools and instead considers the more systemic issues that can have an impact on whether or not a child is active. It also brings into focus those agencies and people who can support schools, leaning into the logic that "it takes a village to raise a child".

15 Primary schools across Oxfordshire are part of the pilot scheme during the 2021/2022 academic year and we have used the framework as a helpful guide to identifying the areas of strength for schools and where other parts of the system can support and enable physical activity. It takes into account different parts of our system from national policy to local deliverers and how other agencies such as NOSSP can broker support into schools.

Whilst this is still very much a pilot the early signs are promising, with schools identifying some of the 'big picture' issues that need to be tackled to create a sustainable shift in activity levels of young people.

For more information on CAS visit

Tags: Active 60, Active Children, Active Communities, Active Schools