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Westmere School

Some teachers were influenced by negative experiences of PE in their own schooling, resulting in them being uncomfortable about taking PE lessons and feeling they lacked the content knowledge to be able to teach it effectively.

Aim/Focus: Curriculum

  • From the P to the E – changing teaching practice in physical education (PE).

Background

The change in PE practice throughout the school over the past two years has been significant and positive. There has been a change in the teachers thinking of PE as an extra that is 'done for fun' and a chance to 'get some fresh air', to PE being a valued curriculum area alongside English and maths.

We have changed our teaching practice to utilise an Assessment for Learning model. Prior to being part of this contract, we spent three years looking at literacy and numeracy, and applying formative practices to these areas. With the redevelopment of our strategic plan in 2003, we had a clear mandate from our community to focus on developing the sport and PE skills that were seen as lacking in our students.

At Westmere School, PE was an 'add on' and often the first thing to be dropped when time ran out. Some teachers were influenced by negative experiences of PE in their own schooling, resulting in them being uncomfortable about taking PE lessons and feeling they lacked the content knowledge to be able to teach it effectively.

As a result, PE lessons basically involved skill teaching and then a game between teams, with a lot of waiting around on the part of the students. These games were not ability-grouped and often were dominated by boys, or by the students with the skills required to play the game. For many of the students, this model of teaching reinforced and perpetuated negative feelings about PE.

Process undertaken

Phases/Steps

In order to effect positive change in a school, all the elements have to be in place, and this starts with support from the Principal and Board of Trustees. The Principal of Westmere School believes that a change in teachers’ practice can only follow a shift in their thinking, saying: To ask teachers to change their practice is not enough… [Teachers need to] challenge their underlying values and belief systems .” To enable teachers to do this, the school management made sure this contract was well resourced and supported at every level.

The three Lead Teachers at Westmere attended collaborative practice workshops, modelling sessions, and planning days, and underwent a rigorous professional development programme. With the support of the Team Solutions facilitators, we brought our learning back to the school staff.

Our model of upskilling staff included observations, modelling of best practice by the Lead Teachers and facilitators, sharing planning, and trialling learning experiences, professional development, peer observations, and practical feedback and feed forward. Teachers set specific goals for their learning, and money was spent to resource units in terms of printed material and PE equipment.

Outcomes

Teaching in PE at Westmere now follows an Assessment for Learning model where the teachers share learning intentions and co-construct success criteria with the students, discuss relevance, and use ability grouping to ensure needs-based teaching. After the lesson, there is always reflection on the learning in relation to the success criteria, feedback and feed forward, as well as goal setting for the next session.

One teacher commented: “The main change I’ve made is that I now value PE the same as other curriculum areas, and so I now aim for best practice in the same way I do for reading, writing, and maths.”

Next steps

Our main challenge is sustainability of this model and philosophical approach to teaching PE, particularly with new teachers joining the school. The Lead Teachers will remain as a unit to support and guide teachers in PE best practice.

As a school, we now embrace an Assessment for Learning model in our teaching across a range of teaching areas, and with continued support from the Principal and Board of Trustees in sustaining the learning from the contract across the school, we are confident that best practice in teaching PE will remain a feature of teaching and learning programmes at Westmere.


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