08th February 2021
Covid-19 has led to the closure of schools, requiring children, staff and parents to adapt to remote learning. Many schools are still open to cater for vulnerable pupils and pupils of key workers. Primary schools have begun a phased reopening process from the 1 June.
With the pressures and challenges the school staff are under, it may lead to a decrease in PE delivery and levels of physical activity. There are lots of active at home resources for schools and families to access however many of them are physical activity-focussed rather than PE-focussed. Opportunities are being shared online, but for many PE coordinators, who are class teachers first and foremost, it may seem overwhelming.
Active Sussex will be releasing a series of interview blogs from Sussex PE Coordinators throughout the summer term. These interviews will aim to:
- Share positive solutions to the challenges primary PE coordinators are facing.
- Share best practice and innovative ideas on how to continue to deliver PE and keep pupils active during this difficult time.
Peter Mowforth, Blatchington Mill School, Brighton & Hove
This week’s interview is with Blatchington Mill, a large secondary school in Brighton & Hove, with approximately 1500 pupils. They have a strong track record of delivering high quality PE and sporting opportunities to their pupils. They have some of the highest participation figures in the county for the Active Sussex Specsavers ‘Virtual’ Sussex School Games.
1. Covid-19 has brought many challenges and issues, what has been the biggest challenge for you as PE coordinator? How have you managed to adapt to address these challenges and barriers?
I think the biggest challenge was adapting from face to face teaching to online remote learning and feedback. Putting in place new systems and policies to support both students and staff to get the most out of what we were wanting students to achieve, whilst managing the workload of marking and feedback for staff. After getting policies and procedures in place, which I think the school got right from the beginning, enabled me to set them specifically for PE. The school kept expectations for the students just as high for remote learning as in school, with clear guidelines for staff to support students who were finding adapting to the new way of working more difficult.
Getting the balance right between use of the computer and practical work was difficult at the beginning, but we found it a necessity for students to evidence their work in different ways. This kept our PE expectations high and maintained the importance of PE alongside all other subjects.
2. Are you still going to school to support vulnerable pupils and those of keyworkers? If so, how has it changed the normal daily routine? Is PESSPA still being delivered to these pupils?
Personally I am not in school with the vulnerable pupils or those of keyworkers. Instead I am part of the year 10 mentoring scheme. Vulnerable and keyworker students do have PESSPA being delivered in school by staff though. The vulnerable and keyworker students are given access to outside space to participate in PESSPA and they are supported by staff to do that. These students have been given facilities and equipment to complete their set PE work, these students have also had other PESSPA activities put on such as football golf, casual football and cricket, basketball, walking, etc, where social distancing has been able to take place.
3. Are you sharing PE plans with pupils at home? What do these look like?
We have been setting work for students to complete at home via Google Classroom. The school has a timetable that the students follow each day and PE is part of the timetable. The first few lessons we mainly set theory work whilst we put plans in place and risk assessed the setting of practical work. After this we created and developed others resources from ShareLearnTeach and other places, to create practical tasks. We had 3 sessions a week to set KS3 work and varied it between different challenges and tasks, for example Around the World Fitness. This was a self designed circuit where students picked the destination from a list, created a workout to earn points to travel there, and then answer the questions based on their destination. We have changed the work after a number of weeks to keep the students interested and motivated.
When the Specsavers ‘Virtual’ Sussex School Games started this was part of the work we set. This is sent out weekly to students and we get them to screenshot their scores and send them to us to show us how they have done. We have also been creating staff fitness lessons for students to complete. With each piece of work there is something to submit so we can support students doing the work and provide feedback on what they do.
4. What other resources are you using to help pupils at home stay active? How are you sharing these resources with pupils?
Everything we share is via Google Classroom or is sent out in the Mr Harrold’s emails to parents/carers or put in our weekly assembly slides. The assemblies are sent out weekly for students to read through and have information such as daily dose of calm, physical activities or challenges, amongst other things. We have also set a virtual sports day for the students to compete in.
5. Are pupils and parents engaging? How do you know?
We have a very high percentage of students engaging across the school in all subjects. With the PE we have between 70-90% of students participating in their work each week. With the submitting of answers, pictures, screenshots or other evidence we have been able to track students engagement. We can then support those finding it more difficult to engage with emails and phone calls to find out if we can support them with the work.
We have very open communication and follow up with students and parents and carers if students haven’t submitted tasks. The policies and procedures Mr Harrold and SLT at Blatch put in place has made it really clear to parents/carers and students what is expected of them and therefore it has made it easier to engage them. I think the clear and open communication from the school to keep parents and carers informed has supported the engagement.
6. With the phased reopening of schools taking place from June 1st, what steps are you taking to follow DfE guidance and ensure pupils still access PESSPA safely when they return?
We have a mentoring programme in place for our year 10 students with online learning still happening outside of this mentoring scheme. Therefore there is no PESSPA taking place onsite at present. I am currently working on September plans and what PE will look like and have a meeting with the Heads of Department across the city to discuss plans and share ideas. Our Brighton & Hove SGO Emma Greenough has also shared useful information and advice.
7. What good practice advice would you give to other PE leads?
To keep tasks interesting and varied and really simple to complete. What I have found invaluable is getting resources from Twitter, ShareLearnTeach and PE Scholar so I don’t have to invent, just adapt to my school. I do the same thing (with a couple of adaptations/changes) for a few weeks on the trot to have some consistency and students make improvements in what and how they are doing things.
For more ideas and resources to stay active during Covid 19 please visit our Active at Home Children & Young People web page.
For free, impartial advice and support regarding your PE, sport and physical activity provision, please contact Nick Chellel.
Active Sussex have a web page for Primary PE Coordinators and a PE & Sport Premium web page with a wealth of information & resources.