All teachers can help boost PE participation

The PE department at Colton Hills Community School needed a reboot. Being smaller than the average-sized secondary school, it was facing many challenges: a high number of English as an Additional Language (EAL) students, a high number of students in receipt of the pupil premium, and a high mobility rate. As a result, it needed the support of staff across the school to supplement its approach towards engaging students and raising participation in PE

Luke Jones, Head of PE at Colton Hills Community School, turned to funding provided by the Sport England-funded Secondary Teacher Training (STT) programme. It has allowed staff to provide the opportunities its students so rightly deserve.
Thinking of ways to raise the profile of PE at the school, Luke turned to social media as a key part of the department’s strategy. Every member of staff uses the department’s Twitter and Instagram accounts to celebrate successes. PE teachers post images, which enables staff from other departments to be involved and to build relationships with individual students. They in turn help promote clubs run by the PE department.

Luke has focused on building a team that is able to teach a broad curriculum so that all students can flourish and excel. Together, the PE department has worked hard to give every child the opportunity to engage in sport. Sport England’s research revealed that the least active students don’t recognise opportunities to be active at school as easily as their more active peers. The PE department at Colton Hills now ensures students are aware of all the activities available to them. Perhaps a student doesn’t enjoy football. Instead, staff will introduce them to other sports such as swimming, badminton, baseball or basketball.

PE and the wider curriculum
Luke encourages schools to see how PE can be woven into the wider curriculum. This can be something as simple as using examples from a sporting context during an English or maths lesson to bring a subject to life. A maths teacher can discuss the angle of a shot or a corner in football.

They can also discuss how a player heads the ball – for example, is it better to head the ball with a glance or head it straight?  
At Colton Hills, you will overhear a PE teacher talking about geography and a maths teacher discussing PE or science.

It is up to all members of staff to collectively work to promote the importance of being active in PE. This can be achieved by ensuring that a science teacher praises an individual for something they had achieved in PE, for example. This simple acknowledgement builds relationships between students and staff across the school. Likewise, talking about finance from the perspective of a particular football club can spark a student’s interest, allowing a relationship to flourish and create a positive role. Using sport as a hook means that all staff are driving the importance of being healthy and active.

A whole school approach
Historically not seen in this way PE now has a clear connection with the wider school curriculum and is part of a whole school approach at Colton Hills Community School. How? It’s all about the ethos of understanding and participation. With PE, feedback is instant: you praise a student there and then for something they have done. That in turn helps build great relationships with individual students which allows teachers to develop their understanding of the barriers and motivations of each of their students.
According to research conducted by Sheffield Hallam University, as part of the programme, found that more active students report an average happiness score of seven out of 10 (compared to just five out of 10 for less active students). Almost three-quarters of students (69 per cent) agreed that being active helps them build resilience. More than half (62 per cent) agreed that it helps them make healthier life choices. More than half (59 per cent) said it improves their mental wellbeing, and nearly three-quarters (71 per cent) said it improves their mood.

Today at Colton Hills Community School, students understand how a healthy lifestyle will benefit them as they progress through life. That’s why incorporating PE across the curriculum and constantly reinforcing its importance in daily life can make such a difference.

PE really can be the vehicle to ignite change and give students the drive that they need to seek more in life, and this can be sparked in any subject across the curriculum.
For teachers looking to make PE, school sport and physical activity a more inclusive and enjoyable experience for their students, head to the link below for easy-to-implement top tips and advice.

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