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West Gore School

Our aim in the classroom was to enable students to transfer those skills learnt in physical education (PE), into use in the playground.

Aim/Focus: Co-curricular

  • To see more students involved in physical activity at break times
  • To provide opportunities for those who need encouragement and support to try and participate in physical activities and join sports teams
  • Encourage a flow-on effect of the positive behaviour from the classroom to our playground, without direct supervision and instigation from the teaching staff
  • To encourage positive playground interactions – problem solving, facilitating, and mediating between groups of students
  • To give students skills to be able to lead others in activities.

This is a flow-on from our classroom programmes. We have taught adventure-based learning and games for understanding throughout the school, which have focused on the above aims. Our aim in the classroom was to enable students to transfer those skills learnt in physical education (PE), into use in the playground.

Background

We are a school of approximately 300 students and have:

  • two adventure playgrounds, one for senior and middle students and one for the junior students
  • a large grassed, fully fenced area in front of our junior classrooms
  • access to Newman Park – a public sportsground comprising an athletics track and rugby fields
  • enclosed sandpits for the junior syndicate students
  • swing sets for the junior syndicate students
  • two netball/tennis courts and a large concrete area at the east end of the junior syndicate classrooms.

Process undertaken

With help from an Active Schools Coordinator, a Physical Activity Leaders (PALs) programme was established. Students volunteered/applied to be a PAL for our school. We focused on training year 5 students so they would be able to guide those trained in the following year.

Students participated in a comprehensive training programme that taught them the necessary skills to be able to facilitate an activity at lunchtime. The PALs learnt/brainstormed a range of games that they could use in the playground with groups, and compiled a booklet that was their resource to use.

As teachers, we found some equipment was in high demand, while other equipment was not being used at all. Also, the equipment was not in good condition or organised for teaching purposes. We would have to hunt around the sports shed to find what we wanted and then pump up balls if they were flat!

We brainstormed a teachers-only "wish list" of equipment, and then approached the Home and School Committee to fund it. We were successful and duly purchased our teachers’ sets of equipment for use with classes. This equipment is housed separately from the equipment used by students and frees up all the equipment in the sports shed for their use.

We also asked the Board of Trustees to purchase classroom sets of equipment similar to the SPARC Active Schools toolkit.

We held staff meetings to make sure everyone was on board and up to speed with what we were trying to achieve - for example, we discussed playground issues.

The PALs concept was explained to the staff who then helped set up the programme. The concept was also promoted at our school assembly.

Responsibilities

Our Active Schools Facilitator (ASF) from Sport Southland was the overall coordinator in starting this programme, along with staff in the senior syndicate and the students who were going to be PALs.

The ASF:

  • facilitated the training of the PALs after the students were selected through an application process
  • initially worked at lunchtimes with the PALs to show them how to work with other students and what sort of activities to use
  • organised a weekly roster and identification armbands for the PALs.

The PALs:

  • needed to be committed to being a PAL and a positive role model for others in the playground
  • have a roster to adhere to, which means giving up their own lunchtimes
  • are to be responsible for the getting out and returning of equipment needed for the activity
  • choose an activity to run for others.

The teachers’ role:

  • The junior and middle syndicates organised the purchase of new equipment for the teachers.
  • All teachers promoted the use of PALs as an option at lunchtime and are supporting the PALs with positive feedback.
  • In 2007, the PALs’ roster and regular meetings have been organised by a teacher.
  • The teacher in charge of sport has continued a purchasing plan so equipment is available for PALs and other students to use. This has been done through regular stocktakes and feedback from PALs.
  • Teachers are responsible for their classroom bags of Active Schools equipment.
  • Schoolwide information about what the PALs are doing is included in the daily notices.
  • Information is forwarded to parents to celebrate successes.

Outcomes

Students are more involved in physical activity and are enthusiastic about being active at break times. Students transfer the skills learnt in the classroom to the playground.

We know this from:

  • a survey of the students
  • there being only isolated incidents that require detentions
  • what the students are saying when they come in from breaks
  • what teachers see when they are on duty
  • empty classrooms on fine days
  • fewer students playing individually or looking "lost".

Reflection

Successes

  • Seeing a lot more of our students enjoying physical activity at lunchtimes.
  • Students are very keen to participate in PE in the classroom.
  • Students transferring skills they have learnt from PE programmes in class, into use in the playground.
  • Fewer behavioural problems in the playground due to students being active, and playing as part of a team (cooperation skills).
  • Students using their initiative on wet days to modify games and equipment for inside use.
  • Support from our Home and School Committee and Board of Trustees. Both have provided funding for equipment: classroom bags of equipment, and teacher-only sets of equipment to use with students.
  • Support from our Principal to attend development sessions and release as required.
  • Enthusiasm from our teaching staff for this initiative.
  • The high calibre of our PALs.
  • Sport shed monitors taking increasing responsibility for the condition of the equipment and repairs that need to be undertaken
  • Positive feedback from both staff and students about the great things happening in our playground at lunchtimes.
  • Students using different equipment to what they would normally use - for example, using the hockey sticks. This is a flow-on effect from our after-school hockey competition. (We organised this because there was no sport for students to play after school in term 2.)

Challenges

  • The weather can make planning for PE in the classroom difficult.
  • We found that the beginning of the year was too busy to be training PALs and decided that we would train year 5 students at the end of term 2. This means that the students are PALs from term 2 of one year until the end of term 2 in the following year.
  • Keeping a track of our equipment and the upkeep of it. We have started monitoring equipment through stocktakes for wear and tear.
  • Continuing the enthusiasm of the students who are PALs. Perhaps a special award as an incentive/acknowledgment of their work could be given.
  • Staff turnover – teachers leaving with skills they have acquired during this process, so therefore need to make sure that their knowledge is passed on and shared with other staff members.
  • We have introduced "Craze of the week PALs" and some "Rovers" to work with students to keep the PALs programme fresh and exciting.

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