St Polycarp’s Catholic Primary School
“Positive impact on the mental health and wellbeing”

St. Polycarp’s Catholic Primary School

Fact File

  • Where we’re based: Farnham, Surrey in England.
  • School roll: 420 students
  • Month/Year we started The Daily Mile: October 2015

Mrs Karen Trafford, Deputy Head, talks us through St. Polycarp’s Catholic Primary School’s experience of The Daily Mile, thus far.

A brief description of your school?

A two form entry Catholic Primary School, situated in an affluent market town with pockets of deprivation.

How many, and which, children in your school complete The Daily Mile?

The whole school, including the two reception classes.

Where do you run your Daily Mile?

We have two running areas:

  1. The perimeter of our KS2 playground
  2. An all-weather running path – laid around our field in October 2015 using Sports Premium funding

Since starting The Daily Mile, what differences in the school have you observed?

Our experience of The Daily Mile has been outstanding. All children are physically fitter, as can be seen in-part from the tables of data below:

Other evidence that the children are physically fitter was provided by evidence gained from a district event. Our children take part in a district cross country race with fourteen schools every Spring and Autumn term. Some of the schools participating are four form entry. In early October 2015, we didn’t win any trophies but in March 2016 we won the Girls’ Individual Race and one of our boys was second in the Boys’ Individual Race. Our younger KS2 children beat lots of Y5 and Y6 children from other schools.

Our PE coaches and teachers also found them to be physically stronger in PE and games lessons, and having far more stamina. An additional benefit is that some of the teachers and TA’s choose to take part in The Daily Mile are also reporting increased levels of fitness.

Celebrating running the distance to Rio with Duncan Goodhew

What has been the impact on the children’s learning, concentration and focus?

The teachers have found that the children are far more focused, especially directly after their Daily Mile. Teachers choose to complete their Daily Mile between two heavy academic sessions, such as Maths and English, or after an assembly where they have been sitting still for a length of time, or before the afternoon registration to ‘wake them up’ for the period of the day where they are often flagging.

Our SAT results were very good in 2016 and one former Y6 student, Francesca, was quoted saying: “I think I did as well in my SAT’s as I did, because of the daily run.” (Her dedicated teachers might question that, but that was her opinion!) When asked why she thought that, she responded: “My mind always feels fresh after the run and I can concentrate better.”

What has been the impact on the children’s behaviour, mood and relationships?

We have found that our school is a calmer place. ‘Wriggly’ children and those with identified behaviour needs have really benefited from the exercise and release of tension that comes with running free. When losing concentration or feeling frustrated, some children ask to do an additional Daily Mile.

Jeremy Hunt and Duncan Goodhew join St. Polycarp’s students on their Daily Mile.

Can you tell us about any successful links you have made between The Daily Mile and your curriculum?

Our teachers have used The Daily Mile to help with teaching in other areas.

In Math, children have gained a better idea of the perimeter of an area. They also use the tracks for measuring exercises and the personal best data for statistical analysis, graphs and percentages.

In English, it has given the children a direct experience to write and has been particularly good for developing persuasive writing.

It has improved the whole school’s Geography as we’ve “Run to Rio” and run to a variety of exotic destinations across the globe.

Art projects have also been linked to The Daily Mile, where the children have created running models from a variety of materials.

In Science, the children have measured their pulse before and after The Daily Mile and looked at the benefits of exercise on the body.

We have also used The Daily Mile to help us with our healthy eating push. The children now want to eat healthily in order to improve their Daily Mile personal bests. It has also helped us to gain our Healthy Schools Awards and Surrey Sports Active Goldmark.

The children doing their ‘Run to Rio’
The children’s ‘Run to Rio’ artwork

Any other comments?


Another bonus is that we have used it as a teaching tool for both The Daily Mile and in other lessons. Even our 4 year olds can describe what it takes to be resilient. Teachers have found this understanding has impacted on the effort children make in class and their confidence in accepting challenges.

Mental Health

Teachers also think it has a positive impact on the mental health and well-being of the children. The self-esteem of the children has really grown, they love to share their improved personal bests with their teachers, peers and families.

The children who struggled to run a lap of the playground initially were overjoyed when they managed to complete their first mile and you could ‘see’ them grow in confidence before your eyes. Some parents have said it has reduced stress and anxiety in their children. Many parents report it is helping their children to sleep better.

The teachers find they can run alongside children and talk to those who have problems or they might not usually have time to engage with.

Any feedback from parents, the school or teachers?

The parents are totally on board with The Daily Mile and continue to show real enthusiasm for the project. Here are just a selection of quotes from the emails parents have sent:

“I thought it was a fabulous idea and such a simple, common sense, way to enrich children’s lives in so many ways.”

“My children… are sleeping much better and for longer than before they started running every day.”

“I just wanted to say that we think ‘Run a Mile project’ is a great idea. Well done for all involved setting this up.”

Due to the buzz of parents and children about The Daily Mile within the local community, other schools have approached us to help them set it up in their schools; as have PTA’s and other education authorities been in touch. All Hallows Secondary School that most of our children feed to also adopted The Daily Mile in September 2016, so the impact won’t be lost as they move on.

Karen Trafford, Deputy Head of St. Polycarp’s Catholic Primary School – “The school daily running bug is spreading because it is so simple to organise within a primary school setting and has such a positive impact on the children’s physical and mental wellbeing. Additionally, teachers are reporting that the children’s ability to focus on learning and accept challenges has been increased as a direct result of the regular running within the school day.”


Visit St. Polycarp’s Catholic Primary School’s website for more information