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Saint Dominic’s School

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At the end of our professional development programme, there was improved and proactive communication within our community ‘rippling out’ from the school.

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Aim/Focus: Ethos and organisation

  • A "ripple effect" – improved and proactive communication within our community "rippling out" from the school.

Background

Our community reports used to contain results-based (competitive sport) information. The school was very proud of its traditional physical activity/sport, which was seen by many as an integral part of the school’s culture. However, with a dwindling volunteer base and an overloaded teaching staff, it was becoming evident there was a danger that this could become consigned to 'past glory' and, like so many other things, be put on the scrap heap.

The school’s desired outcome was to proactively improve communication between the school, parent community, and community providers to ensure that quality physical activity (PA) could and would be maintained.

Process undertaken

Parents and students were surveyed about their interests and needs.

A PA committee (team) was established and:

  • a vision created
  • future goals and directions set.

These were drawn from the survey feedback from both the teacher and student bodies, and showed a definitive:

  • need – water skills
  • interest – bike riding.

A report was made to the PA committee of findings and promotion of events.

School-based events, units of physical education (PE), and four new curriculum documents on PE/PA were written and presented to staff.

Feedback was given to parents.

Phases/steps

A photo-bank was developed for school use at parent evenings and other events.

Fourteen clubs and 67 families attended a Club Night in the school hall, with appropriate activities for children and adults to participate in.

The SCPAP newsletter was transformed from an 'information-based' format to spreading 'good news' about PA. This transformation included school and family achievements, upcoming events, photographs, and individual successes.

Student leaders attended leadership seminars and were trained to lead games and activities during break times.

Selected staff attended seminars and professional development coursework organised by Sport Auckland and/or TEAM Solutions.

Parents’ involvement increased as they took ownership of teams and activities within and outside school time, for example for Swim Sport, bike jam, and bike days.

New connections were made with Unitec and secondary schools.

Outcomes

  • Senior pupils became peer teachers and learners.
  • Standard school PE planning was expanded to include new insights into delivery of the curriculum.
  • Professional learning was shared by colleagues.
  • Better pooling of resources was established.
  • Community providers were sourced to run programmes within the school.
  • Students attended community sporting and PA events.
  • Positive media publicity was gained for the school in local community press.
  • Parents became participants alongside their children.
  • A proactive programme of community water sports was implemented.
  • Parents and children took the opportunity to join clubs.
  • Clubs provided support to the school.
  • The parent volunteer base expanded experientially to allow for the new activities being offered.
  • A monthly bike day was established, culminating with a bike ride from the school to a local park under police supervision.

Reflection

Successes

Students increased their participation in PA outside school hours.

Parents were extremely positive about the PA their children were offered over the 18 months.

Strengths

Of the parents surveyed, 89.5% noted a change in their child’s participation in PA.

Of the school community surveyed, 95.5% noted that communication had improved, in presentation and especially in content, and they were more aware of what was available.

Weaknesses

We needed to have more school–parent exploratory sessions early on, to ensure there were common understandings and expectations. For example:

  • parental expectations of the activities 5–7-year-old students can fully participate in, such as some of the swimming activities
  • parental expectations of the school’s responsibilities and their own roles in their children’s PA
  • getting some of the minor cultural groups in our school on board.

Opportunities

Some of the opportunities to do things differently next time would be:

  • developing our own survey for comparative purposes, rather than using a supplied generic survey that gave the school excellent threshold information but could not be used to show comparative gains over the time of our concentration of effort in this area
  • increasing parents’ knowledge and understanding of the physical development processes of a primary school-aged child.

Threats

  • Parents’ expectations biased by their own experiences.
  • Lack of understanding by parents of the procedures and processes the school is putting in place and going through.

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