«Developing the Potential of Young People in Sport A report for sportscotland by The University of Edinburgh Developing the Potential of Young People ...»
I think where it's at just now there needs to be a bit of, I suppose, development with regard to the whole sport development. I suppose national governing body philosophies are about what they're at and what they're trying to do. These elements of philosophy are not addressed at all in any coach education programmes that exist in national governing bodies, and that's what people align their thoughts to. So we're in a cycle at present where people repeat their previous experience. So if I was involved with football or whatever as a participant, my experience is then replicated by my presentation of what I experienced in a way to a new generation. There has not been a change in any kind of intervention to make that thinking different.
The Local Authorities believed that NGBs have responded to the decline in children participating in sport by targeting children earlier and earlier in order to ‘beat the competition’ and secure the most talented children into their sport. Unfortunately, this put many children off their sport (and sport altogether!) because many feel they are not good enough, either because they are not selected or because they find the sports specific nature of the activity too difficult. If all sports and physical education could provide a quality and fundamental experience to youngsters then, more children would be at a higher general level of ability and it is highly likely that more would participate. Specific sports would then be competing for a broader base of more competent children at a later stage in development and would need to provide good sporting experiences in order to ‘win’ the choice of children.
The idea for me about looking at broad-based development, getting kids involved, covering good attitudes and values associated with participation is both fundamental to me educationally and from a sporting sense and coaching sense because at a young age, you know, in my view, no matter what sport, and I can choose any sport to align myself with the bottom line would be that they're trying to decide which sport that they're going to align themselves with, depending on their experience. So the challenge is for all sports to work like this and to create really good and positive experiences for the kids because that's where you capture them - not by exclusively impacting on them because you're the only sport that's doing it. So my view would be all sports need to do that. Kids then make their own choices about what they want to do, depending on all these different factors rather than to be … because I think the national governing body philosophy at the present moment is … well, let's get into schools, let's capture kids as early as possible so that we secure them for our sport.
We have tried everything else – BUT it has not worked!!!!
Participants highlighted the fact that many initiatives and support packages have been developed and utilised within their areas. However, because these initiatives do not aim to change people’s fundamental attitudes and understanding about what is required, they simply have not worked. Furthermore, many do not explicitly aim to change children’s attitudes to participation and sport either. Although, it is a hard process, changing attitudes was seen as the only way through which permanent change and development will occur. DPYPS provides a philosophy and mechanism by which providers and children’s attitudes and experiences can be changed.
That's the hardest, you know we’ve had support packages, but that's no way to change things. We've had them. We've been through them all.
We've got piles of them and it doesn't change anything. It's about changing people and getting people thinking in a different way and it's hard but it's worth it because it's the only way that's going to make a difference. I think people are starting to align themselves better with these kind of … or the times are becoming a bit more ripe for change in terms of attitudes because we know that the current models are not working, both at national sport level and physical activity participation levels. The numbers are dropping, you know, it's not getting much better. Giving them more opportunity isn't the answer. You've got to change their attitudes to participating in that opportunity and that's really hard. It's really hard. But if we don't do it, nothing's going to change.
Responses reflected an awareness that attempting to change people’s attitudes takes a long time. Explicit and systematic attempts to target such issues need to be given time and money to ensure that momentum is maintained and progress can be made. Long-term investment is crucial.
I think we've got a long way to go. I don't think there's any doubt about that. I think, you know, it's just chipping slowly but being consistent. I think that's always the model that's worked for me, you know, revolutions don't happen overnight. Or if they did … do happen, they don't become very stable. I think it takes time and it takes a bit of energy and it takes a bit of continued momentum to keep it going because it's easy to get dispirited and just sometimes it doesn't work and problems happen and personalities come in and they don't really apply the philosophy in the way you want and it takes time. So you've just got to keep working at it.
There's no short term quick fix solution to this. It just takes time and sometimes time is not what you have because you've got deadlines on programmes, you know. sportscotland is quite time limited. You're not going to have a big impact over that amount of time. So it needs to be clearly understood that it will take time. You're changing a whole values and attitudes system and that's really hard.
Participants clearly felt the need to change many current approaches to support and training. Providing an understanding of the philosophy around what schemes are trying to achieve was seen as crucial. In tandem, participants’ comments reflected the need to help develop people as teachers and coaches, to provide mechanisms for development, and to move away from solely content focused interventions as they often only provide superficial and short-term help. This approach takes time and is more challenging, however the rewards for teachers and children were highlighted as more worthwhile.
We tend to focus very much on the content. We should actually give people mechanisms and understanding so that when they see something going wrong they know it's wrong and they have a sort of …an ear … and a memory bank of ‘OK … that happened before and the practice I did was this or the piece of information I gave the kid was that’. Now that's a huge … a huge job for primary teachers to get to that level.
It's different. It examines the philosophy behind it, and that's important.
Without scaring people off you've got to do that. But it examines the philosophy and it looks at how to use these resources, how to become a better teacher, how to become a more effective teacher. That's better than... it's better than TOPS training.
So the philosophy. Absolutely no arguments, right? You give somebody a basic movement vocabulary. Now, I think even PE teachers need to examine the way they deliver physical education, the way they teach, because we do tend to solely be about skills. And we're not very good at teaching the game, and we're also not very good at teaching kids to make decisions within games.
Coherent Development of the Philosophy is Required to Maximise Developments Participants felt that, during the short programme life of DPYPS, no practical effect had been made on coherence with other initiatives. However, explicitly providing an underpinning philosophy coherently through a number of initiatives was seen as crucial. If this step was successfully taken, an effective and consistent experience, support and reinforcement would be provided to those children and providers involved. Additionally, the more widespread the use of such a philosophy the more people will be working in the same direction and a larger variety of children will be included.
There needs to be a change. If we agree that the philosophy is sound and it will lead to improved performance and improved numbers of performers, through perceived confidence etc. etc. there's an education job to be done.
Integration with the bigger picture. I think that's a job to be done. But it's a worthwhile job. We've just published our own local authority strategy for physical activity, sport and health. Now, we don't specifically mention DPYPS, right? And we don't specifically talk about the dual focus of learning, you know, attitudes and learning the physical competence but it sits pretty well with what we're trying to achieve and I can see a strong place for it to be included in teacher education, coach education, right?
You know, I'm sitting just jotting down some ideas this morning, you know, they're not just for leisure coaches. They're for very sports specific guys.
They're all elements to it but fundamentally within these, it goes back to that philosophy, well what should the philosophy for PE be? What should it be for participation? I think this [DPYPS] is a good model to give because I don't think there is an explicit one that's been stated.
You take the other things and you put them through the sieve. Now that I can go with that because here's a quality control, that's worthwhile sharing with a wider audience.
2.2.3 Seconded Teachers The DPYPS Philosophy is Sound The seconded teachers involved with the DPYPS project both felt that the philosophy was sound and that the two key features of the programme were crucial to the development of young people and could break down some large barriers to participation.
If you've got the basic skills to participate, then you can participate, you know, you'll have the confidence to actually take part and try things.
Whereas if you don't have the basic skills, you have that immediate block to participation and if you don't participate, you're never going to improve attainment or improve performance levels.
I think it's quite an exciting new approach. Certainly, it looks at key elements that haven't really been addressed in the past, the psychobehavioural elements and I think these are very, very important if we're looking to develop young people.
Positive learning experiences in physical education were identified as crucial in tackling our nation’s problem of ill health and lack of physically active people.
Accordingly, the philosophy underpinning the DPYPS programme was seen as a positive step, but only a start, in a crucial direction.
I don't think there is much more of an important issue than the health of our nation at the moment. I think it's pivotal, you know. It's crucial to me that children are given positive learning experiences at a young age with regards to physical education. And through that, you will encourage, you will raise confidence, you will raise competence, you'll give them the skills and the tools to be able to go on and be better or even take part in activity. And it's just so important to me that we do something and I think this programme has really helped. I think it's really helped in certain cases and this is a ten week … it's been a ten week programme but it needs so much more, you know, and what you're going to achieve in ten weeks is absolutely minimal in comparison with what needs to happen.
But it's a start.
Both seconded teachers perceived the DPYPS philosophy as well supported by the opinions of teachers, coaches and specialists who have been involved throughout the programme. Furthermore, the volume of research which drives the concepts, was seen as important, and something that is missing from many other programmes and initiatives.
I think key for me is that it is research-driven as well, you know, it's based on research which so many things aren't. And one of the things we have to look at is the responses from the people who have undergone any sort of training of the programme, so you discuss these things with head teachers and they very much see a need for it and a use for DPYPS. You speak to the teachers who were involved, they also can see it; the coaches, the PE specialists. Right the way through, the philosophy seems to hit home and be something that they're very keen on.
I see the underpinning philosophy to be in equipping young people with physical skills and mental abilities to maximise their potential in sport … I think the philosophy is completely sound and more than stands up to any sort of scrutiny. It has a great deal of research behind it.
One of the main features is that it's inclusive and very much non-elitist.
Based on current research, it addresses not just physical competence but it also develops some of the psychological characteristics which are very much key to performance and participation physically.
The seconded teachers believed that DPYPS, if utilised correctly, could provide an extremely positive learning experience to every child involved, building confidence, competence and choice.
I think one of the most important things about kids is to give them very early a positive learning experience. Just give them learning experiences that are very positive and they get a reward for them in themselves. And I think DPYPS is a way of doing that. If it's taught well and is presented correctly, following the philosophies, I think you can get some fantastic learning experiences for the kids and therefore that encourages and develops confidence. And if you look at it the important thing as well is developing not only their basic movement skills but developing their psychological skills, if you want to put it that way. Have they got the capacity to improve? Have they got capacity to say, alright my friends aren't going along to that club, but I'm going to go along because I like what I do, you know. I think that's an important thing about DPYPS as well.
The consistent perception was that the structure within the philosophy was crucial in developing every child’s potential, regardless of performance standard. The explicit guidelines thus provided to teachers and coaches about what are the most important aspects of development were also important.
I think even getting a structure, a tighter structure for what we're doing.