Primary PE Coordinator Interview Series: Little Common Primary School
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 1st of 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 Primary 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.
Katie Chapman, Little Common School, Hastings & Rother
Little Common Primary School is a large 3-form entry primary school with approximately 600 pupils. In November they won the Active Primary School of the Year Award 2019 at the Sussex Sports Awards.
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?
There was a complete stop in school provision. This forced us to rethink how we do things to ensure that our pupils can continue to be active and engaged, whilst at home. I am working from home so I have been proactive at ensuring staff have the resources and support to continue to deliver high quality PESSPA opportunities.
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?
I am unable to go into school due to a health condition so I created a folder of resources for staff to deliver PE lessons and other activities they can deliver to pupils in school. It was important to make sure staff have everything they need to continue to deliver high quality PESSPA to pupils within school. Everything they need is included in that folder, such as PE lessons, personal best challenges, Daily Mile challenges etc. All pupils in school are doing the 9am PE with Joe Wicks (The Body Coach), as well as 1 hour of PE a day. We did a great Keep Fit Week during Easter holidays which included a variety of games and activities, a sports day and lots of fun personal challenges. I made sure that the games and activities were fully inclusive and adaptable, to cater for different learners. As part of the Keep Fit Week pupils designed their own activities to develop their leadership and creativity skills. They also created healthy eating posters that contained information about keeping healthy.
3. Are you sharing PE plans with pupils at home? What do these look like?
We are conscious that we do not want to ask parents to do too much so we do not share PE plans however, I set different daily and weekly activities and challenges for pupils to do at home. We upload these to the Get Active webpage on our school website. I create a weekly Get Active Newsletter to promote information and opportunities for parents and pupils to be active at home. Each week photos are shared of pupils being active at home to inspire and encourage more pupils to be active. I like to use the Active Sussex Education eNews to take things to include and promote to our parents.
We encourage all pupils to start the day with PE with Joe Wicks (The Body Coach) and we use a Go Noodle premium account so that we can reward the year group with the most active minutes, at the end of each week. We have included a Get Active task in the list of tasks pupils are set each day, they must complete at least one each day. We also have a Get Active at Home challenge where parents are encouraged to send photos and videos of their kids being active, with prizes to be won for engagement. We use some of our PE & Sport Premium funding for this. At the end of the term we will pick winners and celebrate them. In addition, I have recently introduced Mrs Chapman’s Personal Challenge- an opportunity for children to challenge Mrs Chapman in a variety of different activities.
I am collecting video clips of staff doing activities and being active, e.g. doing karate, fitness based, hula hooping. This will be used to create a video montage to challenge and inspire our pupils. Pupils will also send photos and videos so that we can create a pupil video montage. We hope that by leading by example and showing them all the different ways they can be active at home, it will motivate and inspire our pupils to achieve their active 60 minutes each day.
4. What other resources are you using to help pupils at home stay active? How are you sharing these resources with pupils?
We use Go Noodle a lot at our school and we run an “Active Class of the Term” every half term. So I set up a new Go Noodle school account for each year group so that we can do an “Active Class of the Week” during Covid 19. We share the Daily Mile at Home challenges regularly as well. We have enjoyed taking part in the Specsavers Virtual Sussex School Games and promote these challenges each week.
5. Are pupils and parents engaging? How do you know?
We ask parents to send photos and videos of their children being active, which I then pick a couple each week to go into our Get Active Newsletter. We don’t have a Twitter page but we have a Facebook page which we utilise to engage parents and promote opportunities. We have delivered some live workout videos and we regularly receive positive comments from parents. I have a specific active email address and I commit time to celebrate those that send photos and videos in, whilst providing individual feedback. I add this to my evidence folder, which I update throughout the year, to help when applying for awards such as School Games Mark and KS1 Quality Start. I also use the data to evidence the impact of the PE & Sport Premium.
Our Get Active Challenge had really good family engagement so we have adapted it to fit the current situation. Parents that share comments, photos and videos, are entered into a prize draw in the summer where they can win prizes such as Amazon vouchers, sports equipment, healthy recipe books, medals and certificates. Our current whole school data for our children getting active at home - which we recently gathered from our parent questionnaire and 2 x teachers conversations with parents - shows that:
- 92.89% Active at home for at least 60 minutes daily.
- 74.23% Had taken part in PE with Joe Wicks (The Body Coach).
- 69.77% Had taken part in active challenges set by the school.
- 93% Read our Get Active Newsletter and view our Keep Active page on the school website.
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?
Little Common have had a phased return with around 200 children returning, although that keeps changing with additional directives. At the moment the main priority is health and safety, with a focus on the routines of children washing their hands and their movements during play times and lunchtimes. We have updated our risk assessments and we will continue to update them as the weeks progress.
I have been emailing my School Games Organiser (SGO) Rebecca Antcliffe for advice and support, she attended the AfPE Webinar ‘COVID-19: Interpreting the Government Guidance in a PESSPA Context’. We have come to the conclusion that at present the sharing of equipment within in a bubble will not be allowed. Children will have their own individual equipment where necessary, which will be regularly cleaned. We will reassess this again within the next few weeks and perhaps allow equipment sharing within bubbles, if we can guarantee a thorough cleaning process. But again, that will be based on guidance and risk assessments going forward. In line with guidance, children are also not getting changed for PE lessons but we have asked them to wear trainers to school and we have recommended that girls wear shorts under their skirts and summer dresses. At present children will be in their own bubble inside and outside, the field and play areas have been split into sections for each group. Logistically, because we have so many children, play and lunchtimes have been staggered. At play and lunch, we have the class TAs to deliver non contact activities and games with children within their bubble to keep them active. I have sent all staff a variety of non contact and socially distanced activities (involving no equipment) that they can do to keep children active and develop their fitness and strength. From the current provision, we know that all children are getting 15 active minutes at play, a minimum 30 minutes at lunch, as well as activity throughout the school day within their bubble.
We are really lucky because we have our own PE schemes in place that we follow (rather than relying on outside coaches and agencies to teach PE) with our own staff delivering PE lessons themselves. It really shows our effective and sustainable use of the PE & Sports Premium has paid off because all the previous training and CPD we put in place for staff has meant they are now confident and competent to deliver high quality PE . We are planning on reintroducing more PE lessons over the coming weeks and there will be a focus on developing pupils core strength and fundamental movement skills, with the aim of improving their confidence and competence to be physically active. All pupils in school will do the Daily Mile every day to help build fitness and endurance- we recognise the positive impact this has on behaviour, concentration and academic attainment. I will also work with staff to identify and help pupils that haven’t been keeping active, to get fit again!
7. What good practice advice would you give to other primary PE coordinators?
I would say don’t over complicate it and don’t try to do everything at once. Take time to think about what is the best approach. Consider what activities will engage your pupils and what can realistically be done at home. Consider the barriers to participation and plan accordingly. Utilise the information and support from Active Sussex and your local SGO, while using and sharing the hashtag #StayActiveSussex. I think it is really important to keep it fresh so mix it up and be creative. Change what you are doing and provide a range of PESSPA opportunities so that pupils stay active and engaged. Celebrating successes is very important! We have found real success in the use of pupil role models and celebrating successes via our Get Active website and Get Active Newsletters.
It is important to not ask parents to do too much so try to make it as easy for them to access the information as possible, for example direct URL links on our website and Get Active Newsletters. Think about how you can monitor and evaluate what you are doing, whilst thinking how you can evidence the impact. For example, we carried out a parent survey to provide insight on how many parents were utilising the activities and resources we were sending out (see question 5 answer).
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.