The Daily Mile: Curriculum Links and SEND

What is the Daily Mile?

The Daily Mile is an example of a school-based physical health intervention that involves teachers taking their class outside at some point during the school day to participate in approximately 15 minutes of exercise. At it’s heart the daily mile is a great opportunity not only to encourage the pupils to be active but also to build in regular planned outdoor learning opportunities throughout the school. Outdoor learning is a pedagogical approach used to enrich learning, enhance engagement in learning and improve pupil health and wellbeing. As the Daily Mile includes participation by teaching staff there is also evidence of an increase in staff wellbeing.

What are the benefits of the Daily Mile for pupils?

Whole school participation in activities helps foster a sense of community and connection. Learning outside the classroom and mixing with different peer groups develops the inclusive ethos of any school.

With careful planning routes can be designed that allow all pupils to access the daily mile. Adaptations are easily made. i.e for rain the mile can be completed indoors or using the areas of hardstanding available.

The break from the classroom can encourage processing time for recently learnt material.

The opportunity for proprioceptive activity can enhance focus and engagement on return to the room.

Movement provides structured and meaningful ways to accomplish MOVE, OT or physiotherapy interventions without taking the pupil away from formal learning time.

As the pupil completes the daily mile they have the chance to reconnect with pupils and familiar staff who may have moved class.

Improvements for fine and gross motor development can be practised every day.

Initial research suggests improvements for children with Asthma.

Why Link the Daily Mile to Curriculum Areas?

Curriculum time in school is a finite resource. By linking the daily mile to planned learning we can add value to both the curriculum and the opportunity to improve health outcomes for our pupils. It is imperative that we seek to integrate curriculum content into all areas of school life. For example the maths and communication opportunities afforded by snack time.

Research suggests one of the barriers to successful long-term implementation of the daily mile was a lack of variety. By linking the daily mile to planned curriculum areas, or specific learning objectives the focus of the daily session can be varied. As this would form an activity within a planned lesson or sequence of lessons there should be no additional workload for teachers.

There is no defined length to the daily mile although it usually takes around 15 minutes. When building in additional elements to the session this time may increase. This flexibility allows teachers to look at the Daily Mile as an opportunity to conduct outdoor learning within a recognised structure. The nature of the activity also lends itself to cross-curricula learning and even co-teaching if groups plan their daily mile for the same time.

Literacy Links

  • Book Character facts – Print out the characters of the current class book. Space them along the route and discuss their characteristics.
  • Reading comprehension – pupils discuss storyline during walk. Key elements from story located along route. Discussions at each location. Recall of facts etc.
  • Ice Breaker/Fact finder – pupils to question peer on topic/themselves during walk record answers on questionnaire.
  • Build up a vocabulary bank of weather poems and weather adjectives.
  • Create a sensory story around the route reading a line at stations around the course.


Daily mile maths activities SEND autism
  • Pupils collect objects then sort on return to class or post in correct container i.e by colour, shape, size.
  • Time Laps – beat personal best, graph class speeds, collate total distance.
  • Measuring alternate mile routes around the school site.
  • Convert distance travelled into a range of units of measurement
  • Count Laps.


  • Animal Fact Routes – print out images of animals. Space out along the route.
  • Animal hunt – print stickers or pictures of animals for pupils to collect on the walk. Sort by habitat etc on return to class.
  • Solar System – Place planets along route at scaled equivalent distance apart. Pupils collect fact cards during daily mile. Which is the biggest gap. Order of planets.
  • Record pulse rates and walking, compare to running etc
  • School project to enhance the environment. Pupils take soil samples and record microclimates to plan planting of new vegetation.
  • Can facilitate discussions around nutrition. What did the pupils have for breakfast and how do they feel after/before exercise?


  • Timeline – space out chronological events along route. Images. QR codes etc
  • Object of Reference hunt – Distribute objects of reference along the route to create a theme box for a specific historical event. Pupils can guess the theme or event.
  • Different classes or groups research and produce fact cards of a historical figure or event and leave them around the course for another class to find and review when back in class.


  • Using a map or app work out the distance between two locations. How many laps would it take to travel the equivalent distance. Set challenge for the term/year.
  • Object of Reference hunt – Distribute objects relating to a specific place, country etc along the route pupils explore this on return to class.
  • Pupils could collect weather information on a daily basis to make graphs or forecasts and check the following day.
  • Collate information on microclimates within the school site and discuss reasons for this.


  • Collect leaves and twigs for collage or DT projects.
  • Stations set up for pupils to stop and capture the colour of the sky, grass etc


  • The daily mile can help meet the recommendations for daily physical activity.
  • Encourage the completion of the daily mile using a range of movements, hopping, skipping etc
  • Link to the teaching of cycling.
  • Can encourage physical activity for PMLD learners.


  • Track routes, distance using GPS on Ipad
  • Upload individual speeds to spreadsheet to create graphs and comparison
  • Take images throughout the year (Change through the seasons)
  • Create promotional video to explain for “The Daily Mile”


  • Marching Band
  • One pupil to drum – march to the beat
  • Record sounds heard on the daily mile to create a soundscape.
  • Song of the day using a portable speaker. Or create soundscapes using multiple portable speakers around the circuit
Daily mile music link soundscapes Special needs

Communication/Sensory and The Daily Mile

  • Opportunities for social interaction with a range of communicative partners.
  • Opportunities for commenting in a range of environments.
  • Scavenger hunts.
  • Sensory resource stations i.e bubbles, balloons to encourage AAC use.
  • Use Gazebos, sensory umbrellas, flags, bunting to create a stimulating sensory experience. Pupils move under these. Exploring or commenting.
PMLD daily mile activities

Social emotional Learning/PHSE

  • Opportunities to reconnect with previous teachers and peers.
  • Evidence of improvement in older pupil’s mental health and wellbeing.
  • Provides opportunities to regulate emotions – pupils could check in on zones of regulation cards around the course.
  • Discuss thoughts and feelings in a less formal setting.
  • Can be used “ad hoc” as a emotional regulation intervention linked to zones of regulation.

Photo by Nayeli Dalton on Unsplash

The Daily Mile SEND learners Inclusive activities


Banerjee, R., Weare, K., & Farr, W. (2014). Working with ‘Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning’(SEAL): Associations with school ethos, pupil social experiences, attendance, and attainment. British Educational Research Journal40(4), 718-742.

Beauchamp, M. R., Puterman, E., & Lubans, D. R. (2018). Physical inactivity and mental health in late adolescence. JAMA psychiatry75(6), 543-544.

Malden, S., & Doi, L. (2019). The Daily Mile: teachers’ perspectives of the barriers and facilitators to the delivery of a school-based physical activity intervention. BMJ open9(3), e027169. Link

Marchant, E., Todd, C., Cooksey, R., Dredge, S., Jones, H., Reynolds, D., … & Brophy, S. (2019). Curriculum-based outdoor learning for children aged 9-11: A qualitative analysis of pupils’ and teachers’ views. PloS one14(5), e0212242. Link

Marchant E, Todd C, Stratton G, Brophy S (2020) The Daily Mile: Whole-school recommendations for implementation and sustainability. A mixed-methods study. PLoS ONE 15(2): e0228149.

Schneller, M.B., Schipperijn, J., Nielsen, G. et al. Children’s physical activity during a segmented school week: results from a quasi-experimental education outside the classroom intervention. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 14, 80 (2017).

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