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St James School

Students are able to bring their own ideas and activities to the programme, which has given them a real sense of ownership.

Aim/Focus: Co-curricular

  • To introduce and make the Physical Activity Leaders (PALs) programme at St James School sustainable.


Contributing (years 1–6); School roll – 100

We are a Fruit in Schools school and this year our focus is on nutrition and physical activity (PA). We decided to implement some organised games at lunchtime to encourage participation in a variety of activities, as some students needed direction and some were over-exerting themselves (for example, playing soccer in the heat of the day).

We also saw this as a good opportunity to develop leaders within our school.

A PAL programme was implemented last year; however, on evaluation we decided it needed refining. This reflection involved both PALs and the staff.

Process undertaken


We asked for volunteers in the year 5/6 class to train as PALs. The Active Schools Facilitator (ASF) was invited to help introduce and support the programme. The ASF worked with the leaders over several weeks, with a teacher observing and helping.

The students chose whom they would work with, which activities they would take, and on which day of the week.

A teacher was identified to be in charge of the PALs, and funding was applied for from Health Promoting Schools (HPS). Staff were kept up to date at staff meetings.

In consultation with the PALs and the Board of Trustees (BOT), equipment was bought and stored in bags for easy access.

The PALs chose to introduce some of the activities at assembly and work with the junior classes at PE time.

The students made a poster for display at the students’ entrance, outlining when and where activities would take place for that week.

Given our term 1 focus was nutrition and PA, it was an ideal way/time to reintroduce the PAL programme.

At the end of term 2, we were chosen by the Ministry of Education, as a school demonstrating good practice in nutrition and physical activity. This was an opportunity for the St James community to celebrate our healthy initiatives.


  • Principal – initiation and support for the programme; practical support at lunchtimes
  • PE lead teacher – integration of ideas and activities from PE to PA (personal activities)
  • Staff – encourage participation and monitor activities when on duty; allow time for feedback
  • PA Lead Teacher – oversee PALs and activity choices; help check with organisational problems
  • PALs – planning and organisation.


The students and staff identified their needs for PA activities. Equipment was bought and stored in large mesh bags.

A PAL poster was made to advertise the activities.

The ASF helped with the initial training and is available for ongoing support. The ASF attended a BOT meeting, gave an overview of the PAL programme and answered questions.

Progress in relation to PA is reported to the BOT every meeting.

Parents were invited to be involved at lunchtimes.

Newsletters have been sent home to keep the parents informed.

The Enviro Group was given the task to discuss and consult with classes for the need for improved and/or different line markings.


Leaders are developing as the programme goes from strength to strength.

Daily activities are available by the PALs.

A variety of students from across the school are participating.

There is a positive feeling in the playground.

Feedback from parents and the BOT is positive.


We have found that the PALs need to stay with the same activity for several weeks. This helps the leaders develop confidence, strategies, and communication skills. Changing activities often was too disorganised.

Students are able to bring their own ideas and activities to the programme, which has given them a real sense of ownership. They are self-motivated, with a "can-do" attitude.

Their ability to establish goals and make plans has improved. They have identified the use of safe practices.

Their skills for relating to others have been challenged, and they have developed listening and negotiating skills. They have learned to adapt to new situations to encourage cooperation. There are opportunities at the end of each session for reflection and feedback to the PALs.

The identification in the playground by wearing PAL tops and using a whistle helps the leaders stand out and gives them a sense of pride. The tops help to make them stand out for the other students to see who’s in charge.

Teachers are learners with students.

The leaders are providing opportunities for responsibility within their group, which will lead to sustainability in the future.