«Developing the Potential of Young People in Sport A report for sportscotland by The University of Edinburgh Developing the Potential of Young People ...»
I just feel, at the end of the day, you’re asking primary teachers to be experts at everything. I’m supposed to be a French expert, an ICT expert, a PE expert and an art expert as well as everything else. Now, that’s fine, I happen to be reasonably fit but I’m not a PE specialist and I’m in my late forties. But there are people who are totally unfit and teaching. There are people who are older than I am teaching. What is the expectation here? You cannot expect people with a wide variety of skills and ages to tackle the entire PE curriculum adequately and to be fair to the children, because that is not fair to the children. Some people are frightened of actually teaching PE in the upper school. They’re worried about the class control element, they’re worried about children doing what they’re told not to do and breaking an arm. They’ve got their own inadequacies because they’re coming from a no fitness base themselves. (Primary school teacher from the Bannockburn cluster) If we had specialist PE staff in our primary schools from day one, those skills (basic skills) probably would have been taught. But because we’re relying on class teachers, many of the skills are lost …. (Primary school teacher from the Bannockburn cluster) We’re lucky [in this school] that we have a PE specialist who does come in but it’s half a day every fortnight, so what does that say [about the emphasis given to expressive arts]? That kind of sums it up.
I just feel far more willing to teach PE myself. A lot of the time you leave it to the specialists that come in but I would hope that they would bring in this kind of teaching rather than sport specific all the time, because the kids are constantly going to get these sport specific experiences... it’s nice to get the different activities, so that if there’s something that a child doesn’t like doing, they’re not being forced to do it all the time. I just feel more confident in teaching PE and I didn’t lead the sessions but I was very aware of how easy it would be for me just to do that. (Primary school teacher from the Balfron cluster) The confidence [it has provided me as a teacher] I think has been a big thing. The programme has highlighted to us what the children are actually capable of doing and what they’re not, where they’re going wrong. The children quite often go in and it (the activity) is pitched too high and we don’t have the experience to break down a skill. For example, when … [the seconded teacher] … was showing them [the children] how to run and we had to watch how high their knees were going. As a teacher, because we’re not PE specialists, we don’t look for that and we could see they can’t run but we don’t know how to make them run faster. But it was broken down within DPYPS and you could sort of actually look at … OK, this is what they’re doing wrong and that’s what they’re doing wrong, or they’re good at this. (Primary school teacher from the Bannockburn Cluster) 3.2.5 Sport Specialists: Coaches, Active Primary and School Sport Co-ordinators and PE Specialists The DPYPS Programme seems obvious but I’ve not seen its like before When the deliverers saw DPYPS, many felt that, whilst the content seemed obvious, they had never thought of it in that way before.
I think that is something that seems obvious but the fact that it's there in front of us, you know, I don't think I've ever seen anything like that presented in that way before.
DPYPS Provides a Mechanism for the Hows, Whats and Whys of Teaching PE The deliverers felt that DPYPS provides a model on which teachers, specialists and coaches can work. It provides explicit guidelines for aims, content, methodology and progression. It allows people to utilise a mechanism that enables them to go to lessons and know what they are going to be teaching and why.
There were one or two class teachers said “Oh I've never seen it done like this before”. And you know, I've just explained to them where it's come from and said to them, you know, remember I want you to do it, I'd like you to do it like this. And that's been fine. I think as long as I can give them a model of how to take it forward, I think that's part of my job.
I read all your programme instructions and we've been working on them.
So the main vein running through it is just simple skills building up to be the whole art of rugby. Or, for our part, it's rugby. Other sports too, I know. The breakdown, the make-up of all the moves, you know, running, watching, scanning, passing, jumping, pushing, whatever and there's all the ways you can build on that, like breaking it down, making a skeleton and then making the whole jigsaw.
It's got better. So from my point of view in terms of what we're trying to do with kids, beginning of the season about meetings, about what we're trying to achieve rather than just to be a situation where we're in there and we teach whatever we teach, it’s provided a better understanding.
The deliverers felt the programme also provides the whole picture and does not confine itself to single aspects of development as other education packages are prone to do.
Furthermore, DPYPS gets to the real crux of what needs to be done and provides explicit guidelines for what needs to be done and how that works.
Coach training is just purely skill-related. How do you organise your practises, for example how do you progress from individual to teamwork? This took in the whole person.
I think that this is enhancing all the resources that we've got in place already. I think this is actually looking at what I would call the nitty gritty of what is the efficient form of a skill? How do you take that skill and then move it onwards?
The philosophy and benefits of the programme needs to be sold to children and teachers alike, in order for people to understand why it is important to concentrate on these specific factors and also to ensure that people are willing to give enough time to the programme.
I've got fourteen boys and four girls and thinking of other classes in particular in the cluster then I know that people said, well they just think, they want to know when they're playing a game when they're doing this and they can't … the children themselves find it hard to see how this skill relates to a game. And I suppose it's how you sell it to them … more than anything else but that's quite a tricky bit and I guess it's finding time to fit in the behavioural side.
The deliverers emphasised that the psychological aspects of development are crucial for the children not only as concepts in their own right but in providing an individual level of attention and development as well. This needs to be made explicit and reviewed in the same way that teaching physical skills are.
‘How do you feel about that?’, ‘What do you think you're going to try next week?’ So if I have a Primary 1 class and know exactly what I'm trying to get physically, okay, why not give me a sheet and say well, this is what you're trying to achieve psychologically.
I think that's where the teacher is actually taking note of the fact that that child is standing there looking at the ball knowing that somebody that they think is better is nearby. It's getting that self esteem and confidence better.
I was thinking back last week when we were playing Invergore when they got near a line, they did not have that little gritty determination to make it the last two metres. They would cut back in, they would just blooter it and for him, it's … ‘I don't want to make a mistake here so I'll play it safe, I'll just recycle the ball, I'll ruck it, I'll put it down and ruck it, you know, then it'll not be me’. Unless you tell them that in a personal one to one, he's never going to get that information.
I think you need to contrast maybe what you see elsewhere as well. It's just the attitudes and how you present information on what you're trying to achieve with the kids because in general we don't bellow at the kids and shout at them. That's not necessarily replicated elsewhere. There are some bad practices elsewhere. You see on a personal and a group basis we take a bit of pride in that, that we're a bit different.
It's like when somebody scores a try, I always think when I say something, you know, that was good to score a try but it's set up by the fact the team worked together. One took the ball passed it out and got it down the wing and you know that was good teamwork. It's natural to reward the one that put the ball down but because it's a team game there were bits before the person scores, so it can help them as well.
One of the big things for me is talking to them individually. Just in a by the way, just having a quiet word with them makes a difference I think, because it's personal to them, and it does not need to be a public thing, private is just as good.
The deliverers felt that the nature of the psychological skills needs to be made explicit and information needs to be provided about what is appropriate for children at different levels. That is the information missing from many guidelines. DPYPS is the first to provide such help.
You say ‘How do you feel about having lost that game?’ Because there is a tendency, if you don't have specific guidelines, that a part of you will come into that. No I can’t really say to a child ‘Don't be competitive - it does not matter if you don't win.’ But ‘how do you feel about it?’ You know? I've got to be able to know what's good for the psychological development as well as the physical. I know what I can make a Primary 1 child do physically. I know they can’t bounce a basketball through cones. I know that. I know their physical development. But I do not know what I can tell a child for the mental side of the sport. I only have what I know and what I've learnt. So there's no guidelines for that but there are guidelines for physical. You're not going to get a child to do a handspring in Primary 1 so what do I tell a Primary 1 child about playing in this little game we're playing here?
I haven't experienced anything that was organised. I've never seen a course organised to help. The nearest you'll get to it is if you're involved with learning support or behavioural support because they may have courses that say right come along to the course for dealing with children with challenging behaviour, which I'm going to in February. And that lets you tweak into somebody's expertise and their knowledge but I have never seen that in sport. DPYPS is the only time that I've been offered that opportunity to sit down with somebody like yourself and I must say I loved that bit.
However, it was noted that it is difficult to provide individual support when there are lots of children in the lesson, but as long as deliverers have bought into and understand the philosophy then they will be aware of what is important and will make the most of opportunities when they arise. Even if it is emphasising that to speak to every child individually once a term is an opportunity missed if not made explicit.
I would be very surprised if any PE teacher does that. You know, how many teachers actually can say ‘how do you feel this gymnastics is going for you?’ ‘Okay, I can see you can do a forward roll and stuff like that. Right, where do you see yourself going? Where do you see yourself going next year? Or are you happy with that?’ So you can be doing so much damage to these children. So what you gain physically, you're losing emotionally. It's not a partnership. But that's not their fault. I think if you're an athlete and you do the javelin and you have your coach, that's different. But I can only speak as a teacher. When you've got 33 people it is actually impossible, I'll be honest. And, although you come away from the course saying right I can try to speak to a child, you're only talking about having the opportunity to speak to maybe eight children in a month. Now, how do you leave 32 and speak to one child?
I understand the philosophy, if I just had the time. Maybe that sounds as if I'm sort of opting out it but... Yeah, there'll be children in my class that I've never spoken to. And that's bad! But I think that was one of the things that came out of the course, was I can do that every so often.
With my standard grade class I'm able to do it because the numbers are smaller. Right, I've got 24. And so, therefore, I can speak to them and I see them three times a week. That's different. These philosophies I am aware of them. Very aware of them. And I try with the classes. I try with all my classes. I try to go round and I'll say, you know ‘That was really good today.’ It's your antenna, it's got to be up all the time. And it's up to the individual person.
Simplify the Cards and Provide a More Professional Touch
One comment that was universal from the deliverers was that the resources of the programme need to be made more professional and simple to use if it is to be a programme that gets extended nationally. For example, although it is recognised that TOPS is a more simple resource anyway, the cards they have are extremely user friendly and appealing. Something more like this is what is needed.
I think it does require making it look pretty and user friendly and also giving bodies to it initially anyway and support people.