«Developing the Potential of Young People in Sport A report for sportscotland by The University of Edinburgh Developing the Potential of Young People ...»
(Primary school teacher from the Bannockburn cluster) I see the aim of DPYPS to be to get the children involved and improving their skills and then being able to transfer the skills to games situations … so over-arm throwing that kind of movement.
Practising that and then applying that to a particular sport and saying ‘okay, what other sports … where else do you use that?’, so they are not just practising games situations and carrying the weaknesses through lots of things. (Primary school teacher from the North Ayrshire cluster) It takes the children back to their basic skills. We all assume by the upper stages of primary school that the children have these basic skills but unfortunately they don’t. So it takes them back, reinforces them and then extends them … those skills. (Primary school teacher from the Bannockburn cluster) With the particular kids that we have, a lot of them have poor motor skills which, for the age they are, should be further developed but it’s going back, delivering the lesson and then looking at what exactly needs to be fine tuned here and then homing in on that and further developing it. And also pointing out to them that if they’re going to do football, it doesn’t mean going into a hall and splitting into two teams and kicking a ball about. You have to actually do the stuff beforehand, before you can actually progress with the game.
(Primary school teacher from the Bannockburn cluster) Additionally, all of the teachers recognised how psychological factors can facilitate or
impede the physical development of children:
I think the main aim of the [DPYPS] programme is to give them self confidence and be self aware and be able to help themselves develop their skills and have a confidence to do it rather than just a gym project. (Primary school teacher from the North Ayrshire cluster) I see the aim of it [the psycho-behavioural programme] is to help children realise that everybody has their own standards and goals and that everybody can achieve their own level of success … so that everybody can do it at their own level and that’s what we felt was happening. (Primary school teacher from the Balfron cluster) Therefore, the interview data suggests that all teachers had developed a good understanding of both the role of the psychomotor and psycho-behavioural programme within DPYPS. As a result, teachers reported being very comfortable with the underpinning philosophy of DPYPS and appeared to be enthused by what the programme was trying to achieve.
I think the philosophy’s great. I’m all for it. (Primary school teacher from the Balfron cluster) I was very, very pleased with the philosophy of the programme.
(Primary school teacher from the Balfron cluster) I think it’s good to bring it [the psycho-behavioural curriculum] in with the PE because obviously this is the area you want them to develop at this stage so I would say it’s all positive. (Primary school teacher from the North Ayrshire cluster) I really liked them [the aims of the DPYPS programme]. I thought they were fantastic. It was such an easy way of teaching a PE lesson … it was brilliant. It took the focus away from the individual sports which can put a lot of people off sport. (Primary school teacher from the Balfron cluster) I can’t see why you would have any misgivings about that philosophy. I think it makes sense. (Primary school teacher from the Bannockburn cluster) Most definitely the programme has a good philosophy. (Primary school teacher from the North Ayrshire cluster) I think it’s [the philosophy of DPYPS is] very laudable. I think sportscotland, if they cut the funding, are very short sighted. I think it has to be a long term programme. We’re not talking short term solutions here. We’ve got 100 years of … more than 100 years of problems to sort. (Primary school teacher from the Bannockburn cluster) I think what it’s [the psycho-behavioural curriculum is] trying to teach is really, really good and I like it’s philosophy and what’s behind it.
(Primary school teacher from the Balfron cluster) I liked that idea of them being really honed in the basic skills before they applied them. (Primary school teacher from the Bannockburn cluster) I believe in the philosophy. I think it’s a good philosophy and the idea of giving children a good foundation, a good grounding in something before you take them on … which also comes into other areas, you know, you wouldn’t do fractions before children could do tables for example. So I think it makes sense. Just basically it’s common sense. (Primary school teacher from the Bannockburn cluster) Participants were also asked to reflect on how they thought the philosophy of the DPYPS programme fitted in with their philosophy as a teacher. All respondents responded positively.
I think it’s [DPYPS is] basically the same as my philosophy as a teacher. I think we try and design things to suit the individuals involved in it. In Maths and Language, we differentiate their different abilities and I think this is going along the same lines. (Primary school teacher from the Balfron cluster) …the question of does it back my own philosophy of teaching … no question of that. In fact, we were very pleased when we heard about DPYPS and what it was aiming to do with the psychological stuff... it sounded great. …. Doing it through PE is grand because obviously, other skills were coming in. (Primary school teacher from the Balfron cluster) I think it [the philosophy of DPYPS] enhances my philosophy as a teacher. Certainly it makes the children … or should make the children … think more about themselves as learners and it should, in the long-term have mainly beneficial effects. (Primary school teacher from the Bannockburn cluster) Finally, all teachers were in consensus regarding the potential of the DPYPS programme positively impacting beyond the PE curriculum.
There are wider applications of the psycho-behavioural programme other than sport …. very much so. I think it goes across the curriculum totally and I’ve used it in other areas, and the idea of it in other areas. (Primary school teacher from the Balfron cluster) The psycho-behavioural curriculum has wider applications [than sport] in school, in everything. I think it’s all to do with self belief and self esteem and things like that and if children have got low self esteem, then it affects them right across every area. It affects your behaviour, so it affects your academic achievements. So I think it affects everything really. (Primary school teacher from the Bannockburn cluster) I think DPYPS has wider applications than sport. Team building, working together at problems in any sort of topic. I think that comes into it and the kids, once they got started, were working really well together and I think if they can do it at PE, you know, it can lead on to everything really. (Primary school teacher from the Balfron cluster) I think that [the psycho-behavioural curriculum] it would be very beneficial [to the school ethos as a whole] and I think that you would start off with PE and then try and break into other areas of the curriculum. You could start doing some of the paper exercises and link them to different areas …. (Primary school teacher from the North Ayrshire cluster) 2.2.5 Sport Specialists: Coaches, Active Primary & School Sport Coordinators and PE Specialists The DPYPS Philosophy is Sound A wide range of deliverers were interviewed regarding the DPYPS programme including coaches, secondary school PE teachers, PE specialists, School Sports Coordinators, and Active Primary School Coordinators. The perceptions of the philosophy of the programme were very consistent and positive across this diverse representation. DPYPS was regarded as common sense and a sound way forward, helping to develop all children in a much-needed holistic way, incorporating both the fundamental physical and mental skills that are so important for success in sport, physical activity and life.
Well I think the rationale behind it all is really very sound. When you're reading the manual, it almost reads as being logical, common sense if you like, but it's really good, I like the way that the movement and the behavioural bit are tied together. And I think that is something again that seems obvious but the fact that it's there in front of us, you know, I don't think, I've never seen anything like that presented in that way before.
And obviously I feel the teachers have got to make the time because, it's not just about PE, it's about all other areas. DPYPS is about life. But then I'm not a class teacher, and that's the other thing you have to guard against, that you know we tend to see our bit as just the bit and how important it is but I mean the class teacher has to juggle twenty different balls.
Giving You a Structure of What is Most Important for the Kids
The aspects of inclusion and holistic development within the philosophy were highlighted as important by many of the deliverers due to first hand experience of young children being written off too early affecting both sport development and active lifestyle promotion.
I think the good thing is every child has an opportunity to participate in it.
You can get them more active, they can have fun, you're not just looking at performance-related criteria, you're looking at the whole person. So it's more holistic and I think that's good. Not just assessing how tall people are and making up your basketball team. So nobody's written off and I think that's important because in the Scottish Badminton Union, for example, what happens is people are put into squads and they're written off too early.
Another interesting story I heard was, just to back up your philosophy of the DPYPS, which I think is good, is of a wee boy of six who couldn't get into the local swimming club because the coach said "How many strokes can he swim?" He can only swim one. He said "Oh no, you need to be able to swim at least three." And he's six years old! So he was not allowed to get in at all! So another coach said "Look, let him come to me." And that boy is now in S1 here and he swims in the Scottish team because he had other factors: he was highly motivated; he loved the sport; and he did the training and he stuck to it. And I think that philosophy is really good because, far too often, we write children off. So, therefore, in my classes the philosophy of the DPYPS is there for me because you can never tell when you start your gymnastics block, it's the improvement that they can get and, being able to just say "Just do your best." I think that's good.
The deliverers felt that the philosophy was the way forward for sport and lifelong physical activity participation, however it was emphasised that the philosophy needs to be developed as a long term, coherent and consistent experience for children with a good team of deliverers supporting and driving it in practice.
And children need continuity. They need to know what's happening. But I think if you get all these factors, if you get all the factors and you address them and you have a great team, I think it would be a wonderful thing. It's a wonderful philosophy. And it does work.
Not everybody wants to have a career in sport, or wants to do sport as we recognise the term sport. But I think that what is important is that children will have confidence in themselves and the movements so that when they decide to go to boxercise or whatever that they actually know, I can do this, I have got the basics, the fundamentals in place that will allow me to go there or there or there or there.
The psycho-behavioural aspect of the programme was warmly welcomed by all of the deliverers and was highlighted as a crucial part of a child’s development. It was acknowledged that systematic and explicit education of deliverers within their own Continued Professional Development as teachers or coaches was essential and would provide the foundations for a more consistent and appropriate experience for children across the board.
I think it's very important for children, at an early age, to understand the mental aspect of what they're trying to achieve in an activity and how, not only to know, but how to develop it because a lot of children get worried if they're injured. So, if they had other skills and they trusted the person who was telling them "You can do this." I would never underestimate the psycho-behavioural, the mental aspect for learning anything. I think it's important because it's a motivator as well and I think if they can deal with things like losing and winning and if it's in perspective and, it's not like a death if a child loses but I do strongly believe you have to change, you need to train the people who are the educators that this aspect is just as important as the skills. But sometimes people come to it naturally. Other people you'll need to say "Well, you have to learn this."
Many deliverers felt that DPYPS needs to be more systematically and coherently promoted from a higher level in order to ensure that teachers have enough time in their day and curriculum to do it justice.
There's not anything that people would disagree with. In theory they might question some of the practicalities of how they can fit it into their week or whatever, but I don't think people would ever have an issue with the theory of it.
Furthermore, many of the deliverers commented that they wished this programme had been available years ago, and wished that they had more time to provide such experiences to the children on a more consistent basis.
What it has made me think is, gosh, I wish I'd got involved in this years ago, you know? Or I wish it had been available years ago and I wish I had more time with the kids than half an hour once a fortnight, you know? You are really between a rock and hard place? Do I do this in depth, do I really get into this because the kids are enthusiastic and you've got to capitalise on this, or do we scratch at the surface, which is what we try to do really.
Current Practice – Where Are We?
There is a clear theme running throughout the perceptions of the deliverers that children do not receive adequate opportunities or quality physical education until it is too late. They feel that a coherent education is essential, starting at nursery school running right through their school life. Unfortunately, in their perception teachers are not taught how to resolve these issues or how to provide a quality experience for the kids.
I think for the whole idea of DPYPS, the holistic approach, I think it's too late. They are not prepared enough at school and at nursery in these fundamentals.