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Levin East School

This programme required a significant shift in the attitude of staff, allowing student voice to impact on school practice.

Aim/Focus: Co-curricular

  • To get more students involved in lunchtime physical activity and create leadership roles within the school for senior students.

Background

Contributing primary; provincial town; 26 teachers and 476 students

A Physical Activity Needs Analysis was completed.

The Lead Teacher did an equipment inventory and an assessment of the school environment. A meeting was held with parents to gather community input.

We reviewed what was happening in the playground at lunchtimes. Staff surveyed students at play and found:

  • some students were inactive
  • others were ambling around with little to do
  • there was a lack of guidance and initiative
  • there were some very active students, while others had no idea of what they could do.

Duty teachers were already involved in playground games and helping with extracurricular activity. A Social Worker in School was involved with mentoring targeted students and providing lunchtime sport opportunities for senior students. The caretaker makes innovative gear for students to use at lunchtimes. Physical activity (PA) gear available for student lunchtime use is kept separate from PE resources in the PE shed. Junior students access gear from the PA class set.

After gathering all the information and analysing it, it was decided the best way to achieve our goal was to set up a student-led physical activity programme at lunchtimes .

Process undertaken

Once the decision was made to implement a Physical Activity Leader (PAL) programme, the idea was promoted to the students at a school assembly by the Active Schools Facilitator (ASF) and staff. Late 2006, year 5 students were invited to apply to be a PAL. From applications received, the Principal, Deputy Principal, and Lead Teacher selected 12 suitable students.

These students received training early in 2007 from an ASF, which consisted of developing skills in the areas of cooperation, communication, and coordination. Support equipment such as a whistle and T-shirt uniform was supplied by the local sports trust to each PAL. The Cancer Society contributed resources, as SunSmart practices were also woven into the programme.

Parent and staff meetings were held to gather information and generate ideas. A student council was formed and provided input through the Deputy Principal.

Lead Teachers visited other schools in the region, observing and gathering new ideas. Findings from this were fed back to staff and gave some direction to equipment purchases. A schoolwide plan (wall chart) of lunchtime PA was drawn up and displayed to aid continuity and direction.

New equipment, consisting of alternative gear, was purchased to add to the range and quality of activities students could take part in. The school joined the local Regional Sports Trust equipment library to supplement its own resources.

After being trained, the leaders were assisted with running activities for year 2 students on two days a week, over a six-week period.

We investigated the use of parent help, neighbouring college students, and the wider community to provide adult support to the PALs.

A meeting was held to update parents about what was happening. The PALs were also invited to this.

The leaders have been celebrated and acknowledged through sponsored Push Play goodies, and at the end of the year the Principal took them for a physical activity event at a local community facility.

Responsibilities

The goal of this programme was to build on the physical activity opportunities already being offered at lunchtimes. The intent was for the students to have greater input and ownership with the guidance of an adult, preferably not placing extra work on teaching staff. This programme required a significant shift in the attitude of staff, allowing student voice to impact on school practice. It is vital that key staff, such as the Principal and senior management team, as well as the Board of Trustees, supports and values this direction.

Resources

Funds to purchase equipment came from money from Friends of the School. For ongoing sustainability, we are still in the process of organising an adult to oversee the programme on a more permanent basis.

Outcomes

The PAL programme has been successful in the fundamental goals of:

  • getting more students active
  • providing an opportunity to develop senior student leadership.

Other outcomes included:

  • the introduction of new activity ideas and uses of equipment for staff
  • increased profile and enthusiasm for physical activity
  • more direction to lunchtime activity
  • opportunities to experience new activities
  • utilisation of an area of the school environment not often used for activity
  • provision of activity ideas students can use outside of school - that is, at home
  • better utilisation of available resources
  • better utilisation of the school environment, such as adventure playgrounds, for more equitable use.

Reflection

On reflection, the PAL programme has run smoothly and was relatively painless to implement. The biggest concern has been finding a sustainable solution to having quality, reliable adult support. We had difficulties with the large number of students wanting to take part so activities needed to be flexible in delivery with timing and equipment. A future direction would be to link the activities more closely with the current curriculum focus.


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