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Is variety the answer to a lifelong love of being active?

Think back to your most successful PE lesson. The chances are it was when all children were engaged and involved, working together, supporting each other and having fun. Successful PE is when everyone takes part and learns something to aid their progress. 

Making sure all pupils have a positive experience of PE can sometimes be a challenge. Children who are good at sports can get frustrated with those less able, and those less skilled can resent being made to take part. 

Our enjoyment, or not, of PE can have a long-lasting impact on our lives. 

What difference does enjoying PE make? 

A report from Youth Sport Trust highlights that a positive experience of PE, school sport and physical activity at school lasts a lifetime. Parents who have happy memories of PE and school sport are more likely to be active as adults and encourage their children to be active. This is the latest in a long line of research looking into the long-term impact of PE at school. 

A study by Middlesex University also found that bad experiences of physical education at school can put some adults off exercise for decades. It also found that it can lead to some people experiencing ‘corporeal dissociation’ – a state of physical detachment which potentially results in adult inactivity and making particular life choices such as opting for sedentary jobs and hobbies. 

How can I ensure all children enjoy PE?

We are all different; finding out the kind of activities that your pupils enjoy will help you create a broad and balanced PESSPA programme that the whole class wants to take part in.

Letting children try out different sports and activities can significantly increase the chances of them finding something that they enjoy, succeed in and/or that interests them. Children who have good balance might realise they enjoy climbing, cycling, dance or gymnastics. Those with good hand-eye co-ordination could find they shine at games – frisbee, cricket or tennis, for example.

Including a variety of traditional and more modern sports and games will keep your children excited about moving. Trying out different activities means they can discover and develop new skills. It keeps them interested, stimulated and challenged too.

How can I add variety to my PE lessons?

Go back to basics. Look at your PE curriculum and make sure it includes different activities, sports and games that focus on developing different skills – running, jumping, throwing and catching, balancing, agility and co-ordination. 

Provide opportunities for children to have a go at both competitive and cooperative physical activities. 

You can also use external providers to boost your curriculum offer. Our Coaching Days can broaden children’s experiences of different sports and activities by providing exciting taster sessions in the chosen activity. This could spark a half-term of engagement in the activity on your playground or inspire pupils to join community clubs.

Providing a platform for children to realise their sporting potential in a safe environment will help them to remain active throughout their life. 

Further information

Get in touch to find out more about our Coaching Days

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Six Dimensions of Wellness – pt 6 Spiritual Wellness

What does being ‘well’ mean? Isn’t exercising regularly and eating healthily enough? Many health experts believe that true ‘wellness’ comes when several areas of our lives are in balance. Dr Hettler, who co-founded the National Wellness Institute, developed the six dimensions of wellness as a guide for us to use in order to achieve a whole and complete life. 

In this, our last blog on the six dimensions of wellness, we are looking at spiritual wellness.

What is spiritual wellness?

We all need a sense that life is meaningful and that it has a purpose. Spiritual wellness is our need for a connection to something greater than ourselves. For some people, spiritual wellness comes from taking part in an organised religion; for others, it is a connection with nature or the environment, whilst for others, it comes from their passion for their vocation. 

Many aspects are involved in achieving spiritual wellness – faith, beliefs, values, ethics, principles and morals. It is the most neglected of the six dimensions of wellness. However, a strong spirit is instrumental in helping us to keep going in the face of challenges. Spiritual wellness comes when you have found inner calm and peace.

When you achieve spiritual wellness, your actions will be more consistently in line with your beliefs and values, and you will be tolerant of others who hold different beliefs and values. 

What are the benefits of spiritual wellness?

As well as having a connection to the world around you, there are many benefits to being spiritually well including being able to:

  • Love and forgive others
  • Show compassion and tolerance
  • Experience joy and fulfillment

Five ways to achieve spiritual wellness:

  1. Volunteer in your community
  2. Identify what gives your life meaning and direction
  3. Make time for personal reflection or meditation each day
  4. Start a gratitude journal and intentionally give thanks each day
  5. Spend time outdoors 

Further information

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Why are Fundamental Movement Skills so fundamental?

Fundamental movement skills are the ‘building blocks’ for more complex and specialised skills that will help children take part in different activities, games and sports. The common fundamental movement skills are running, jumping, throwing, catching, skipping and hopping.

Fundamental movement skills are grouped into three broad categories:

  • Locomotion: Anything to do with movement – walking, hopping, running, swimming, skipping, jogging, running and so on in different directions.
  • Stabilisation: Skills that show how you can control your body – balancing, stretching, twisting, landing, bending, pivoting, hanging.
  • Manipulation: These are skills that involve moving something that isn’t attached to you – throwing, catching, pushing, pulling, bouncing.

Recent research has indicated that decreasing activity levels are impacting on children’s ability to develop these skills and that this will have an adverse effect on their long-term health and wellbeing.

Why is it important that children develop their fundamental movement skills?

As well as being the building blocks for more complex skills, if children develop a wide range of fundamental movement skills whilst they are young, it increases the likelihood that they will continue to take part in sports and activities as they get older. This means they are more likely to be active adults. They will also feel more confident in having a go at different sports and activities and their risk of injury will be substantially reduced.

So, developing robust fundamental movement skills (FMS) is crucial to ensuring lifelong healthy habits. However, all too often children can be pushed into playing sports before they have mastered their FMS. If a child has not yet developed FMS they will have difficulty in performing well and/or progressing in the sport which in turn, can put them off sport or exercise for the rest of their lives.

5 simple activities to develop fundamental movement skills

FMS aren’t naturally learned through free play. It can take hours of high-quality PE teaching, with appropriate practice, instruction and opportunity, for a child to become proficient in each FMS. Here are five simple activity ideas that you can use in your PE lessons to help your pupils develop their FMS:

Run or walk on uneven surfaces – running on different surfaces (grass, bark etc) strengthens muscles in the feet and legs and engages core stability for better balance. Try to travel in different directions, changing directions regularly.

Target practice – while children naturally begin to throw objects at around 18 months of age, these skills can be further encouraged and developed by providing targets. To progress this skill, remind children to point their finger and throw overhand as though they are high-fiving.

Activity trails such as Hop, Skip and Jump with a Kick at the end – lay a trail around the school grounds: skip over a pile of leaves, jump over a bench, hop from one point to another. Include a goal at the end where pupils need to kick a ball into the marked space before completing the activity trail.

Balancing activities – Try balancing on different body parts, taking body weight on hands and feet or other large body parts, for example front support or rear support positions. Ask children to get into front support and use their hands and feet to ‘walk’ along the edge of the playground. See how far they can go without falling over.

Use movement games such as Fast Cars – mark out a space/area in the school hall or playground. The children run around the space without bumping into each other (crashing their cars). Gradually reduce the size of the space so they learn how to control their speed and be able to stop, twist, turn and start again.

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Six Dimensions of Wellness – pt 5 Intellectual Wellness

When we think about being healthier, we often focus on our diet and exercise. To be truly healthy, we need to look after our mind too. The Six Dimensions of Wellness is a tool to help us to achieve a healthy balanced life.

In this blog we are looking at Intellectual Wellness, or how creative and stimulating mental activities can help you think faster, increase your cognitive capacity and improve your overall health and happiness.

Why do we need to look after our brains?

Your brain controls you. Spending some time concentrating on how you can help your brain will help your overall wellbeing.

According to the Alzheimer’s Society, being intellectually well and engaging in stimulating activities may also reduce cognitive impairment and reduce your risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s.

An ‘intellectually well’ person is someone who is open to new ideas, meeting new people and hearing new perspectives. They think critically and are keen to learn new skills. They spend time discovering more about themselves and their potential, and share their knowledge and skills with others.

10 ways to develop your intellectual wellness

  1. Spend time reading books, magazines and newspapers – it doesn’t matter what you read, if it stimulates your mind and generates interest or allows you to learn something new or find out something interesting, it all benefits your mind.
  2. Try something new – your brain continues to grow throughout your life. Stimulation, stress and experiences can help it to change and adapt. Try pushing yourself out of your comfort zone – have a go at a new sport, learn a foreign language or a musical instrument, for example.
  3. Get moving – as well as being good for your heart and body, exercise improves your brain too. Research has shown that regular aerobic exercise boosts the size of the hippocampus, the area of the brain involved in verbal memory and learning. This kind of exercise also releases brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) which helps new connections develop within your brain.
  4. Be social – when we are being around other people and hear different ideas and perspectives we learn and grow. Spend time with friends, family and colleagues. Try meeting and mixing with new people by joining a club, a class or a sports team.
  5. Eat well – Did you know, your brain consumes about 20% of your daily calories so feed your brain as well as your body. Include foods that are good for brain health regularly in your diet such as blueberries (antioxidants), green leafy vegetables (vitamin K and beta carotene), pumpkin seeds (magnesium and zinc), nuts (healthy fats and compounds).
  6. Get creative – drawing, doodling, painting, playing a musical instrument, photography, gardening, pottery, crafting, writing…being creative stimulates your mind and can help develop problem solving skills, memory and processing speed.
  7. Practice puzzles – games and puzzles help to exercise your brain and improve long-term and working memory.
  8. Drink water – the majority of our brain is water, over 75% in fact. If you are dehydrated your brain is too, this is why you experience brain fog, loss of focus and memory as well as headaches. You may also feel tired and moody. Improve focus and clarity by drinking more water.
  9. Get some sleep – when we sleep our brains remove stored toxins so they are better able to function the following day. Lack of sleep impairs reasoning, problem-solving and attention to detail. Aim to get 7 – 8 hours of sleep each night.
  10. Meditate and reflect – take a step back and think about your actions and motives, reflect on your life, behaviour and beliefs. Self-reflection improves self-awareness, provides perspective and can improve confidence. Meditation also allows you to calm your thoughts and achieve greater mental and emotional clarity.

Further information:

National Wellness Institute

Our blogs:

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What is the best way to teach PE?

There is no one perfect way to teach PE. Your lessons should incorporate different learning styles that help stretch and support pupils. You need to be able to provide challenge and progression at an appropriate level for the individual.

How can you support and challenge all pupils within one PE lesson?

You have a class full of individuals all of whom will be at different stages in skill development and understanding, so how can you ensure there is differentiation in your lesson?

There are many different teaching styles – from ‘command’ to ‘inclusion’ to ‘guided discovery’. In fact, Mosston and Ashworth identified 11 different teaching styles for teaching physical education. Their Spectrum of teaching styles is a flexible framework of approaches to help teachers meet the needs and interests of each pupil. This framework can help you to differentiate how instructions are given and modify the curriculum to meet different educational goals.

The framework forms a continuum based on the degree to which the teacher or pupil assumes responsibility for what is taking place. At one extreme, the teacher is giving all instruction and direction, and at the other end is a pupil-centred approach and the teacher is a facilitator.

There is no single perfect teaching style. To provide a progressive experience, you can incorporate more than one style in each PE lesson. Doing so will mean you can best accommodate diverse learning styles and meet specific learning goals.

The 11 teaching styles for PE

A: Command
This is where you, as the teacher, make all the directions and decisions. Pupils copy and comply with decisions and instructions.
Good for: Copying practice. When time is short and/or safety is paramount

B: Practice
You demonstrate the task/activity. Your pupils practice the task, working at their own pace. You provide feedback to each pupil.
Good for: Repeating and improving performance

C: Reciprocal
Pupils work together in small groups on a skill/activity and provide feedback to each other. You circulate amongst your class giving groups pointers for areas for feedback.
Good for: Performing and peer assessing

D: Self-check
You demonstrate the activity/skill and set the criteria for success. Pupils work individually on the task/activity/skill and reflect on their own performance.
Good for: Self-assessing and evaluation

E: Inclusion
You set a variety of tasks/activities at different levels of difficulty. Pupils select which task or activity is most appropriate for their abilities and/or motivations.
Good for: Making choices, understanding capabilities, challenging oneself

F: Self-guided discovery
Using questions and tasks/activities, you gradually direct your pupils towards a pre-determined learning target or solution to a problem.
Good for: ‘Uncovering’ – questioning, problem solving, developing tactical thinking

G: Convergent discovery
You set a challenge or problem and your pupils try to find the best solution.
Good for: Finding out, discovery

H: Divergent discovery
You set a challenge that has multiple possible solutions and when the problem is solved, another problem arises that needs to be solved.
Good for: teaching tactics, creativity

I: Learner designed
As pupils develop their knowledge and understanding, you set an area of focus and pupils set their own challenges and try to find solutions, working with you.
Good for: Independent thinking and learning, initiating

J: Learner initiated
Your pupils decide what to focus on and what challenges to solve. They can ask questions of you and draw on your support as needed.
Good for: Decision making

K: Self-teach
Pupils take full responsibility for their own learning and the learning process.
Good for: Self-development, self-determination

Further information

Mosston & Ashworth – Teaching Physical Education

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What makes a great coach or PE leader?

A UK Active poll has found that children are more inspired to be active by primary school teachers than professional athletes. School staff play a vital role in encouraging and supporting children to be active. So how can you make sure you are a positive role model for your pupils?

Teachers and coaches alike, bring a range of qualities, experiences and skills to the sports hall which makes for creative and fun sessions. There are five common attributes that make for a great coach:

  1. Communication skills – being able to communicate effectively with your pupils, to understand their needs and provide constructive feedback is key in helping them to improve. Giving one message at a time and demonstrating what you are asking of them, will help pupils understand what they need to do to develop.
  2. Ability to plan and organise – thinking ahead, making use of online resources or programmes created by partners such as Go Well can make PE sessions much more fulfilling for both teachers and pupils. Plan the detail of your session, consider all eventualities and how you will achieve your desired outcome. Having multiple practice areas or games areas will reduce the time pupils spend waiting or standing around in queues; this is when they get bored and you end up dealing with poor behaviour rather than delivering the lesson. Think maximal participation at all times!
  3. Ability to create a safe environment – some children may struggle with some activities or actions; ensuring they feel confident and able to have a go is crucial to building their confidence. Sometimes too much emphasis can be put on correctly performing a movement or on winning; knowing it is ok to try and not succeed immediately is vital to helping children to grow and learn to be resilient.
  4. Being open minded – what has worked for one class may not work for another. A child may struggle to respond to a particular coaching style. Being open minded, changing your approach and trying new tactics to engage individuals is one of the most important attributes of a great coach.
  5. Creativity – doing the same session each week with no deviation will turn off the keenest of pupils. If you are short of ideas, ask your class. Sharing ideas will empower children, build confidence and a sense of ownership. Allow children to be creative during activity sessions too.

Further information:

UK Coaching has more guidance and resources to help you develop your coaching and sport leadership skills.

We have a wide range of programmes and support to help you deliver creative and inspiring PESSPA sessions.

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How can a PE Apprentice help your school?

A PE Apprenticeship is an ideal way for a young person to take their first steps in a sports and coaching career. It provides them with an opportunity to get real responsibility, real on the job experience and a real accreditation.

For schools, aside from an extra pair of hands, a PE Apprentice can be a great addition to your staff team. Our Sports and PE Apprentices can provide your pupils with more opportunities to be physically active during the school day.

Enthusiastic, willing to get stuck in and keen to start a sports career, our apprentices can help drive forward PE in your school, giving you greater capacity and providing your pupils with additional support, direction and feedback. They can also be a fantastic role model.

Getting the most from your apprentice

To ensure you and your PE Apprentice get the most from your time together, we recommend:

Giving your apprentice clear direction – what do you expect from them? What is their role within the class? Do you want them to support an individual or do you want them to set up equipment for a lesson?

Involving them in the planning – our sports apprentices are with you to learn, so involve them in planning your school sports lessons and physical activity sessions, encourage them to share their ideas. Invite them to join staff meetings and training so they get a broader understanding of what working in a school involves.

Giving them responsibility – is there something that they can be responsible for when they start working with you? How can this responsibility be developed as they progress? Allow them to take some initiative and remember to give feedback so they can learn and develop.

Training them – are there particular playground games or activities that your pupils enjoy? Offer them opportunities to take part in CPD sessions and to then share their learnings with teachers across the school. Do you use other external coaches for your PESSPA or after-school clubs? If so, involve your apprentice with these sessions to expand their knowledge and experience.

Involving them in activity delivery as much as possible – the more interaction they have with children, the better. They can assist with Active 30 activities, support SSOC’s, play leaders, school teams and assist other teachers within the school, the list is endless.

Finally, remember to nurture your PE Apprentice. Look after them well and they can be a huge asset for your school. Make sure that they know who their mentor is, that you check in with them regularly, set them clear targets and explain tasks set and exactly what is expected of them. Hold regular meetings to review progress and provide an opportunity for them to feedback and ask questions.

Find out more about employing a PE and Sport Apprentice within your school.

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4 ways to ensure you get the most from your PE Premium Funding

The deadline for spending Primary PE and Sport Premium funding carried over from last academic year (2019-20) is the end of this summer term (2021).

This ringfenced funding is designed to help give children an active start in life by supporting schools to improve the quality of their PE, physical activity and sport provision. Being active helps children to become mentally and physically healthier and leads to improved behaviour and academic achievement.

With so many tools, techniques, resources and support available, it can be difficult to decide where best to invest the funding. Here are four ways to ensure you and your pupils get the most from the grant.

Carry out an audit

Look at the whole-school PESSPA offer – what do you offer each year group and how is it delivered? This includes auditing staff competence and confidence, identifying what activities are taught well and those that aren’t. The Youth Sports Trust has a very useful audit tool to help you do this.

You can use your PE and Sport Premium funding to invest in staff CPD including auditing your provision and staff competency.

Create your vision – what you want you want your school PESSPA to look like?

Be ambitious about what you want your PESSPA to look like. What are the strengths and what can you build on and develop? Include your PE and physical activity day-to-day offer and children and staff attitudes to PESSPA. How valued is the subject and how embedded is it across the whole school?

Consider what your short and long-term aims are. Does your ambition require a culture change or just a few tweaks? What steps do you need to put in place to get there? Think about what you want the legacy of your Sport Premium to be. How far have you come since the introduction of the funding? Consider what you have achieved so far and how far you have to go to achieve your goal. What are the best next steps to move you forward?

A legacy could be to have a highly skilled team. Funding can be used to support your colleagues to develop skills in a new area such as outdoor learning or to address whole-school motivations and relationships with physical activity. Or you can use it to access external support to enhance the quality of your programmes.

Identify what you need to focus on

Be really honest about where you are and what you need to focus on. As well as thinking about what you want to develop, remember to consider what your children need. How can you embed this? Be ambitious with your ideas and then look realistically at the steps that need to be taken to get there.

Involve children in shaping your PESSPA programme. It is an opportunity to engage children in activities that may not have been part of your PE curriculum but would help develop fundamental skills.

5 key indicators – are they all equal?

Do you really need to focus on all 5 key indicators, or would it be better for your pupils to address one of them really well? Is there anything within your school improvement plan that you can link your activities to? Look at how your PESSPA offer supports academic attainment or behaviour and social development – raising the expectations around behaviour and attitudes of particular groups of children.

You can use your funding to embed successful physically active learning approaches and programmes that support areas such as behaviour or developing an active curriculum.

Go Well has an extensive PESSPA support programme, from in-school training and delivery to activity packages that will help you and your teams improve the quality of PE within the school and support more children to develop an active lifestyle.

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The benefits of having PE, School Sport and Physical Activity at the HEART of our school curriculums and in the hearts of our children.

Ever wondered why some of us are so passionate about the power of a subject like PE?  Physical Education, School Sport and Physical Activity can be key in unlocking potential, not just for the elite athletes and top performers, but for every child.  School PE lessons and the school sport offer are no longer about aiming to develop an exceptional performer; instead they encompass so much more!  Let’s see what PE, School Sport and Physical Activity can do for our future generations….

H

Healthy habits 

PE, Physical Activity and sport all embed healthy habits, not just in terms of taking more exercise – we all know that we need to move more, to keep our joints healthy, to maintain a healthy weight etc; the recent Active 30 campaign is helping to reinforce this message in Primary schools; but they also all have a huge impact on other areas of our life too.  Habits such as deploying strategies to cope with stress and anxiety, co-operating with others, building meaningful relationships with others, learning to win and lose, knowing how to cope with setbacks but also how to use these as a catalyst for ambition, hard work, striving for success, acknowledging that instant gratification is often short-lived happiness and not always as rewarding as knowing you have worked hard for something. These things help to develop strong, resilient and well-rounded personalities. Isn’t that the kind of adult we want our children to grow into? 

E

Emotions

Exercise is a great way to clear your mind, to gain some perspective, to release your frustrations; it allows us to self regulate, to refocus and gain some clarity, setting us up for whatever challenges lay ahead. Understanding our emotions and finding ways to recognise them, embrace them and choose to express them appropriately is something that can be and should be taught.  Movement is integral to human expression.

Attainment

Following vigorous exercise your brain is more open to learning, meaning that if children were to do a quick 10 minute blast of exercise before their English or maths lesson their brain would be more open to being challenged, would potentially retain more information and problem solve more effectively. Shouldn’t we be in the business of maximising learning potential? 

Attention span

PE and sport require us to sharpen our attention, to look for detail, to make quick thinking decisions, respond to stimuli. These skills lead to actively involved, confident, connected, lifelong learners. Analysis and decision making allows us to see things from different points of view, to identify key influences and to select appropriate responses, empowering our decision making in future.

R

Risks

PE and competitive sport can very easily help children to understand sequencing of time, the importance of quick reactions, of how decisions made in an instant, can influence the outcome of a whole game, potentially having huge ramifications on the bigger picture.  Taking risks, being daring are key life skills that allow us to have adventures, to aim high, to challenge ourselves, to have self belief, to be able to overcome challenges, to work/sit outside of our comfort zone every now and then and be ok with that. Resilience is a big word – self regulation, being able to react to situations in a measured and calm manner requires a certain equilibrium. Sport teaches children to win and to lose, to support and celebrate the success of others but it also has the opportunity to develop ambition, drive, a try and try again attitude, an acceptance of limitations but an adaptability to goal set and to achieve.

Tiredness

We know that sleep is a great healer and medicine.  Whilst the National Sleep Foundation gives us recommendations about how much sleep we need according to age, they also recognise that this will vary according to how active we are and suggest that the more active you are the more sleep you may need. We know that people are leading far more sedentary working lives and that they are mentally exhausted, but switching minds off isn’t always easy. I refer you back to all of the things previously raised – physical activity has the tendency to tire you out, allowing you to clear your mind and therefore settle your thoughts, which in turn can lead to more restful sleep.

 

How powerful is all of that?  I could go on and on and on……….

Plato said “lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise saves it and preserves it”.

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if it was at the HEART of our school curriculums and in the hearts of our children? 

Further reading: 

5 Reasons Why Physical Education Should Be An Important Part Of Your Curriculum – 360 Hoops (play360hoops.com)

Why study physical education? / Rationale / Health and physical education / Home – Senior Secondary (tki.org.nz)

How Much Sleep Do We Really Need? – Sleep Foundation

We hope you found this blog helpful.  For more information contact sarahwalmsley@go-well.org.