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Otari School

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Two keys to success for our school have been the active involvement of the Principal and the commitment of all staff.

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Aim/Focus: Ethos and organisation

  • To develop a planned approach to promote and deliver quality physical education (PE) across the
    three strands of our school.
  • To ensure each strand is able to plan and teach in ways that best reflect their unique character and needs.
  • To strengthen the integration of PE and health with other curriculum areas.

Background

The school roll is approximately 162.

Otari School – Te Kura o Otari, has a unique three-strand structure compromising Māori immersion, Montessori, and Original (mainstream) classes. Each strand has junior and senior multi-level classes of years 0–3/4 and years 4/5–8. The strands have a shared vision of delivering quality education for the development of the 'whole child'. This holistic approach to education informs and drives all our curriculum development. It offers our school the possibility of unity while allowing for diversity.

We chose to participate in the School Community Physical Activity Project (SCPAP) contract to assist us in addressing some identified areas for improvement, including the following:

  • inconsistencies in teacher knowledge of the health and PE curriculum
  • inconsistencies in the delivery of quality PE across the school
  • inadequate and outdated planning and assessment practices in relation to PE.

SCPAP involvement provided fresh impetus to look closely at our current practice and explore possibilities for change and improvement.

Process undertaken

With the support of the SCPAP advisers, Lead Teachers took responsibility for facilitating a professional development programme which led to:

  • a review of curriculum requirements (using both the current and new draft curriculum)
  • the establishment of an agreed school vision for quality PE
  • the development of common understandings for quality teaching
  • a review of PE resources, update of PE inventory, and targeted purchasing of equipment in response to identified needs (for example, new soccer goals)
  • workshops in unit planning and lesson delivery
  • peer-appraisal goals focused on effective unit planning and teaching practice.

Following a schoolwide implementation plan in terms 3 and 4 of 2006, teachers used agreed planning formats and components to plan and implement PE units within syndicates.

In 2007, changes in teaching staff and in strategic planning structures led to a significant change in the schoolwide planning approach, with the emphasis shifting from syndicate to strand planning.

This new approach was trialled from term 2 of 2007. Teachers within strands decided on themes and then worked in cross-strand syndicates to support each other in the development of ideas leading to unit plans.

An example of strand planning

In the Original strand, the overarching thematic focus is 'The Environment'. Otari-Wilton’s Bush is right next door to the school and is a unique and valuable resource that the teachers in this strand aim to utilise as much as possible.

In 2007, the strand focus has been on our native bush environment. At the beginning of term 2, teachers decided that orienteering would be a good way to integrate PE into this theme. Junior and senior level units were developed utilising both our school and Otari Bush environments.

Students were taught orienteering skills such as directionality, map reading, and map making. A large emphasis was put on improving fitness levels. Team building and cooperation were key skill components. Students were able to transfer and further develop their cross-country running skills in bush terrain. A co-curricular cross-country running club was established, with approximately 20 students regularly running at lunchtimes through Otari Bush. One student went on to achieve national success as a result of his involvement.

The units were integrated with other curriculum areas, such as maths (measurement and geometry strands) and English (link to story mapping for the juniors).

These units were good examples of planning that included health and PE curriculum strand A, B, and C outcomes, and enabled students to make links to other curriculum areas. Importantly for the Original strand, they encouraged the students to think about their relationship to the bush environment in a safe and enjoyable way, and through a physical activity context.

The other strands developed units around their key themes. The Montessori strand has ‘The Great Lessons’ as its overarching theme. This led to the senior class teacher developing an integrated unit on space in which the PE component was entitled 'Flying Frisbees', with strand A, B, and C outcomes.

In the Māori immersion strand, the overarching theme is the 'Māori Gods'. The senior class teacher developed a unit around Tu Matauenga and the ANZACs, with the PE component exploring invasion games.

Outcomes

  • Teachers are positive about the strand planning approach which has changed the emphasis from a whole-school sports-driven cyclic model to an integrated thematic model.
  • The planning model allows for improved student needs-based learning outcomes.
  • The planning model has helped strengthen collaboration within strands as well as between strands.
  • The quality of PE teaching has been improved.
  • Teachers are clear about the difference between planning and teaching of PE and PA.

Reflection

As a result, staff capability improved in relation to unit planning and lesson delivery in 2006. Ongoing support in 2007, which was matched to individual teacher needs, has been most successful and enabled us to develop unity through common understandings and improved knowledge of curriculum requirements.

We have had a number of staff changes that have created challenges and slowed progress towards meeting our goals of consistent quality teaching across the whole school and towards the completion of an agreed PE implementation plan. However, we believe the planning model we are now developing and refining is sufficiently robust, with enough support mechanisms in place to ensure delivery of quality programmes regardless of staff changes.

Two keys to success for our school have been the active involvement of the Principal and the commitment of all staff.

Next steps

Complete written documentation to support planning and assessment practices and ongoing professional development in curriculum integration.

Overall, Otari School has found its participation in the SCPAP contract to be a very positive experience, with real benefits for the students in improved PE and PA opportunities and improved teacher confidence and satisfaction.


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