Desk cycle study

In this innovation evaluation, Crescent Academy evaluated whether having access to a desk cycle reduces levels of hyperactivity for Year 5 and 6 pupils with high prior levels of hyperactivity (rated by teachers) and helps them to focus more in lessons, leading to an improvement in maths attainment. Of additional interest was whether there were any changes in the fitness levels of the pupils.

Description of the innovation

A desk cycle is a small, portable pedal unit which fits under a desk allowing a person to pedal whilst doing work. The units work on a magnetic resistance so are quiet. Children in the intervention groups were given access to a desk cycle during maths lessons and were able to decide for themselves how they used the cycles (ie, constant pedalling, or pedalling for only part of a lesson). Other children in the class were able to use the cycles in other lessons if they chose to do so.

The cost of the intervention was £149 per pupil, which covered the cost of the desk cycle.

Summary of the evaluation

Twelve Year 5 and 6 classes from four schools in Stoke-on-Trent participated in the evaluation. Teachers completed the hyperactivity scale of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire for all pupils in their class, and those with the highest hyperactivity scores were selected to be part of the sample: in total, 99 pupils met the inclusion criteria. Classes were chosen at random to be intervention or control group classes.

The pre- and post-test measures used were the hyperactivity scale of the Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), height-to-waist ratio, the time taken to complete the daily mile, and scores for the 2017 Year 6 SATs arithmetic paper or the Year 5 Maths Hub arithmetic paper, depending on the pupils’ year group. The evaluation lasted 15 weeks, starting at the end of January and continuing until May half term.

Summary of findings

Overall, the study showed a positive effect size for the SDQ hyperactivity scale (+0.93).  Children in the intervention group experienced a median reduction of two points on the 10-point teacher-reported hyperactivity scale in contrast to a median reduction in score of 0 for the control group. Height-to-waist ratio (+0.15) and time taken to complete the mile (+0.11) also showed positive effect sizes. However there were negative effect sizes in maths progress for both Year 6 (-0.5) and the Year 5 (-0.16) cohorts.

Lead school

  • Crescent Academy, Stoke-on-Trent

Download the protocol document