Primary PE Coordinator Interview Series: St Johns CE Primary
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.
Mark Pollard, St Johns Church of England Primary School, North Wealden
St Johns CE Primary School in Crowborough is a 1 form entry primary school with just over 200 pupils. They are a Platinum School Games Mark school (one of the first primary schools to receive the award in Sussex) and have been a leader of good practice in their area for many years.
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?
The biggest challenge as PE coordinator has been making sure teachers have enough activities and resources for them to use with their bubble in school. As well as making sure all pupils who are at home are receiving a variety of activities they can do at home with limited resources, to help keep them physically active. We’ve adapted by using and promoting a range of online resources including; PE with Joe Wicks (The Bodycoach), Cosmic Kids Yoga, Go Noodle, YST Stay at Home Activities, Sportshall Athletics at Home Resources and Specsavers ‘Virtual’ Sussex School Games. I have been in regular contact with Tracy Lewis, our North Wealden School Games Organiser (SGO), for advice/support and to access further opportunities. Our big success has been our own Virtual Sports Day, which we ran from 8th - 12th June with a challenge each day, which was accessible for Reception to Year 6 pupils. This really helped with engagement of all pupils and we had a huge positive response from our children who were still doing home learning.
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?
Yes I have been in school or working from home everyday since we closed, except weekends and bank holidays. The daily routine has changed, like it has for everybody, and you just have adapt to the ‘new normal’. Our pupils that have been coming in during the lockdown have received a varied curriculum and I am proud of how creative our staff have been with the activities we have delivered. PESSPA provision is highly valued at St Johns and PE has been an essential subject, not just for the physical benefits, but also for pupils’ mental wellbeing. The Specsavers ‘Virtual’ Sussex School Games resources have been brilliant to inspire and engage our pupil in our pods. I have inputted the data for pupils taking part in school.
3. Are you sharing PE plans with pupils at home? What do these look like?
We set home learning via Google Classroom for KS2 and use our school website for EYFS and KS1. Our teachers write a detailed weekly plan that will be used in school with the children and is also published online, so that the children at home can follow the same resources. The activities vary but are mainly based on key skills or activities, that are Covid safe. We have followed a range of challenges as mentioned above, also adapting games such as football, rounders and a range of Outdoor Adventurous Activities (OAA) sessions. Our photo orienteering and around the world flag orienteering have been really popular!
4. What other resources are you using to help pupils at home stay active? How are you sharing these resources with pupils?
We have been sharing resources as mentioned above but we were inspired by the Specsavers ‘Virtual’ Sussex School Games challenges. So we decided as a school to run our Virtual Sports Day from 8th – 12th June 2020. We did a challenge each day, with an accompanying video, instruction sheet and survey to collate the results. Alongside the daily challenges we also ran a creativity task, asking pupils to do the activities in a creative way.
5. Are pupils and parents engaging? How do you know?
Our SGO has shared our weekly Specsavers ‘Virtual’ Sussex School Games participation data with us and our pupil participation has increased each week. We had a huge response from pupils and parents for our Virtual Sports Day, with the majority of pupils engaging each day. We also ran a challenge for parents and had 65 parents taking part in the parent and carers challenge.
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 been referring to AfPE guidance for PE and recommendations from the YST. We have updated our risk assessments and have been planning PE activities that are Covid safe, ensuring children are safe but are also enjoying the activities too. We have focussed on sports that are easily adaptable to fit the current guidance, for example OAA, which has been really popular with our pupils.
7. What good practice advice would you give to other primary PE coordinators?
- Be creative with planning of activities e.g. photo orienteering or creating activities/games that you can deliver with your box of playground equipment.
- There are lots of fantastic resources which are already online, try some and see what is most enjoyed by pupils and staff. We found the Active Sussex Primary Resources document useful to do this.
- Support teaching staff to make sure they are confident with delivering P.E in the current circumstances by providing advice, guidance and support.
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.