The Body: Study Action Areas


Each of the nine MAC themes is divided into four study action areas. This page sets out specimen content for the study action areas that form part of the Body theme.

The four study action areas in this theme are:

  1. A whole-school activity programme
  2. Physical development
  3. Learning about the body
  4. Looking after the body

This page also includes the following:

MAC brings together disparate National Curriculum materials and adds important material, aiming to organise children’s learning in a focused and determined way.

There is no suggestion that the content set out below is in any sense definitive. It is intended merely for discussion and debate, a starting point for the detailed programmes of learning that will be required for each year group.

Study Action Area 1: A whole-school activity programme.

This element is based on WHO and Chief Medical Officer recommendations to involve the pupils in sixty minutes’ daily exercise. The Daily Mile is key: time is found to run round the yard or field for fifteen minutes, for example before school. Active play is encouraged, supported by playground markings, playground equipment and teaching pupils playground games. Twice a day, lesson warm-ups, combined with brain gym exercises, are built into the day. The sixty minutes of daily exercise does not include PE lessons.

Specimen content:

  • Daily exercise. Join in a whole-school fifteen-minute daily run around a suitable open space such as the school yard or playing field.
  • Active play. Use playground markings and equipment in active play during playtime and lunchtime breaks.
  • Lesson warm-ups and brain gym. Take part in classroom-based exercises twice a day.

Study Action Area 2: Physical development

Children develop their gross motor skills through carefully designed physical exercises — including participation in sports — as key to physical and social development.

These are key years for physical growth. The MAC focus is on all children increasing the development of their locomotor, stability and manipulative skills in the context of vigorous activity through specialist gym exercises. Learning includes special attention to the development of core body strength and takes into account the wide range of body development and body impairments affecting development in individual children.

Specimen content:

  • Develop stability skills. This involves three elements: (i) Static skill — the ability to balance in a stationary position. This includes knowing how to stand with core stability firmly anchored. It is more difficult to balance on one leg. (ii) Dynamic skill — the ability to balance while moving, such as ducking, diving and weaving. This involves weight of body transfer: walking heel to toe on a line is a good example. (iii) Axial stability — rotating on the spot and horizontal and vertical body movement. Ballet dancing requires well-developed axial skills.
  • Develop locomotor skills. Basic movement skills to include hopping, leaping, galloping, changing direction suddenly and skipping in ways where the whole body movement is coordinated and graceful.
  • Develop manipulative skills. This involves handling various bats and balls in hand-eye coordination and different body movements required in a variety of team games. These manipulative — or fine motor — skills develop small muscles involving synchronization of hands, fingers and eye coordination.
  • Develop fine motor skills. For both gross motor skills and fine motor skills, there is a crossover to learning in the classroom involving body posture and the fine motor skills used in the manipulation of the fingers in writing, cutting out, drawing and colouring.
  • Take part in sports. A key element in the provision of opportunities for all pupils to exercise and develop their physical bodies. The playing of team sports provides many benefits including the development of relationships, the fifth of the nine MAC learning domains.

The major objective of Sport England is for children to take part in sports and to continue participation into and throughout adulthood.

MAC puts increased emphasis on physical development — not on sport as the National Curriculum does — to increase the numbers of pupils with the capability to take up sport in school and maintain that sport throughout life.

Click here for a useful resource on gross and fine motor skills.

Study Action Area 3: Learning about the body

Children learn about the main organs and body systems. Knowledge of basic survival needs and keeping the body safe is included.

MAC focuses on combining knowledge of the body with how to look after the body — including understanding the importance of personal hygiene — and putting knowledge of exercise, sleep/rest, and cooking and nutrition into practice. MAC also focuses on how to look after the brain, the most important organ in the body and the key to how we process information.

The MAC relates the content of National Curriculum science programmes of study to life. Science remains at the heart of the learning process.

Specimen content:

  • Learn about the body, look after the body, look after body parts, and learn about the parts of the body involved in information uptake and processing. The learning rearranges National Curriculum content and adds content to ensure greater focus on children using their knowledge of the body to increase sensitivity to the body and encourage body care.
  • Build general knowledge of the body including an overview of the human body. This covers reproduction, growth, ageing and dying; basic survival; keeping the body safe; and body safety around others — safeguarding.
  • Learn how parts of the body function. This covers skeletal support, protection and movement; teeth; the cardio vascular system; the digestive system; the respiratory system; and the brain and nervous system.
  • Describe the structure and basic functions of the brain. The brain has importance as the central organ by which we pick up and process information.

Study Action Area 4: Looking after the body

Specimen content:

  • Look after the body. This covers knowing how to keep healthy, understanding the importance of personal hygiene, and putting knowledge of exercise, sleep/rest, eating healthily, and cooking and nutrition into practice.
  • Avoiding disease: Children learn about the link between lifestyle and disease that is disease caused by the way people live. The most common of life style diseases are heart attack, type II diabetes and stroke; also attributed to lifestyle is hardening of the arteries, hypertension (high blood pressure) and cancer.
  • Causes of disease: Children explore the idea that the way people live can leave then open to disease; drinking alcohol, taking drugs, over eating, poor diet, mental stress, staying indoors 24/7, wrong body posture, disturbed biological clock and not exercising.
  • Being informed: A key part of children’s learning is the difference between what is known and what is suspected and that not all people agree on the causes and effects of disease.

Note: In the Mind Learning Domain there is the Study Action Area 2 – Looking after the brain.

Teaching notes

A MAC multi-discipline Body Beautiful project will require a coordinated launch and the active participation of all staff in its promotion.

The key stakeholders are the children. They need to be involved from the start in any whole-school Body Beautiful concept. This includes — but is not limited to — the children:

  • Taking ownership of the project. Involving the children from the start, for example by discussing together what the project will involve.
  • Undertaking promotional activities associated with the project. For example, children create logos and straplines; put together project launch leaflets; contribute to assemblies; lead assemblies including story, song and drama content created by the children themselves; children from all classes enlisted to advertise and promote the project; and children mentors and ambassadors created to maintain project interest.

This is intended to be a long-term, transformational project. To maintain interest, children need to be regularly returning to the project theme and actively contributing, for example in assemblies, via wall displays and through a focus week built into the annual calendar.

Further information

Coordination of content

Coordination of content is crucial to ensure the aims of this learning domain are met:

  1. Pupils learning about and looking after their bodies
  2. National objectives relating to obesity are met
  3. Pupils with disabilities in mainstream schools are provided for
  4. The message that body care is a lifelong task is central

The National Curriculum

The Body learning domain delivers the National Curriculum* requirements on children learning about and looking after their bodies as set down in the statutory guidance for:

  • Science
  • PE
  • Design technology (food)
  • Safeguarding

The current National Curriculum science programme of study

Pupils still need to acquire the skills, concepts, attitudes and values embedded in each subject area of the National Curriculum, but with renewed purpose through the focused approach the MAC offers.

For example, the central thrust of the National Curriculum science programme of study is the uptake of scientific skills and introduction of the scientific process to pupils. This emphasis on science skills is incorporated into the Body domain. It is expected the scientific process would be very much used in the development of pupil knowledge of the body and body parts.

*Statutory guidance: National Curriculum in England: Primary Curriculum. The National Curriculum primary programmes of study and attainment targets for key stages 1 and 2. Published: 11 September 2013. Last updated: 6 May 2015.


Websites contributing ideas and information to the Study Action Areas are listed on the links page.

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