Headteachers discuss how Morecambe and Lancaster schools can help pupils live longer lives

Video report by ITV Granada Reports correspondent Mel Barham

Headteachers in one of the worst areas for life expectancy in the country have met to discuss how they can help their pupils live longer.

The latest figures for Lancashire’s Lancaster district, which includes the town of Morecambe, show that life expectancy at birth for both boys and girls is significantly worse than the England average.

100 primary headteachers and senior leaders met in Borwich on Monday to discuss what schools can do to improve the lives of children before it is too late.

They have already begun to implement a place-based curriculum, believing that health and education should go hand-in-hand in schools.

Dr Andy Knox, Medical Director for Lancashire and South Cumbria, said, "I want to see communities across Lancashire feel outraged that this is so unjust.

“We need to change it."

Teachers at Ryelands Primary say they are teaching children to love, stay and help change their area. Credit: ITV Granada

According to Lancashire County Council figures from 2018-20, males in the Lancaster ward are likely to live until they are 78 and a half years old - six months less than the England average.

Females will die after 82.2 years compared to 82.9 nationally.

However, figures quoted at the conference suggest people can expect to die 10-15 years earlier than those from more affluent areas.

Almost one quarter of 4-5 year olds and one third of 11 year olds are now overweight.

Ryelands Primary School in Lancaster sits amidst one of the most disadvantaged estates in the country.

Two thirds of its children school are eligible for pupil premium - three times the national average.

But they say they are doing their best to give their students the best start in life by prioritising outdoor learning as something that can aid both academic futures and health.

“Most lessons nowadays have an outdoor element to them,” explained Year 3 teacher Donna Barker.

“It’s super important to us that the children get opportunities to learn in the fresh air, appreciate movement in the open space, learn things like where their food comes from - and eat a lot of fruit and vegetables."

The children seem to be aware of the benefits.

James Brown said, "I love living in Lancaster because we get a lot of fun activities to do, like going to an arcade or maybe going to a park."

Amelia Stringfellow added, "I love going outside it gives me a fresh mindset about what I’m learning about and my mental health."

It is hoped the Eden Project North will be a "massive shot in the arm” for the area.

Until then, teachers say they are determined to change the outcomes for children growing up today.