One Week in Paradise – Guest Post

A few weeks back, the PE Department hosted a work experience placement called Kelly. She asked to come and spend a week with us to help her prepare for a PGCE in PE starting in September. Kelly had a great week, making some really valuable contributions and putting up with my rants about #realpe.

Below are her reflections.

One week in paradise
My four day experience working within the P.E department at BCA has been intriguing, inspiring and challenging. With knowledge of BCA’s recent circumstances and having spent the last year working at Millfield School, I was apprehensive about my visit to BCA; mostly due to the uncertainty of whether I could confidently teach a class of more than 10 pupils! I was excited to explore and discover the logistics of BCA and I quickly learnt that all teaching and activities are underpinned by the Academy’s motivational ethos of ‘Respect, Friendship and Excellence’. This was not just a school, it was a community.

My first day was an emotional rollercoaster but a lucrative learning pathway nonetheless. I began observing some GCSE students alongside Simon Scarborough, Head of P.E / Senior Leader, where I learnt the importance of having structure to a lesson with clear learning objectives to give the students focus in their learning. I was extremely impressed by the maturity and personal responsibility displayed by the students when using the gym equipment and their ability to work independently with motivation and focus. When Simon explained that they use a ‘Creative Thinking’ scheme that supports their P.E lessons, the previous behaviour I had observed now made sense. Their approach to teaching P.E provokes authentic and meaningful learning through the development of key life skills that these students can apply to diverse areas of their lives. I discovered that Year 7 and 8 especially could easily take ownership of their learning during P.E, often dictating the nature and progression of the lesson to suit their needs.

I was given the opportunity within a lesson to lead a Year 7 group for indoor football where I learnt the most effective way to get the students engaged was to give them small tasks to complete that would stretch their cognitive, personal and social skills. The lesson progressed very interestingly for me as I found myself providing emergency first aid half way through, whilst trying to help the class of 20 students remain calm and occupied. The situation was handled appropriately and I was still looking forward to my final lesson of the day, Year 11 public services. I had been informed about the challenges that some of the students within the group present, but in all honestly I found it extremely challenging and was vastly out of my comfort zone. The most important things I learnt were to be consistent and firm and that co-operation is more effective than conflict. From observing Ali’s Year 9 GCSE lesson I learnt that creating small, fun and individual tailored tasks engages the students more in their learning and allows them to explore a topic through guided discovery.

Throughout my experience I observed many great teachers in various faculties all using the ‘LEAP’ strategy to support their lessons. Personally I have found this very useful when planning and delivering lessons at Millfield with regards to outlining the expectations and learning objectives at the start of the lesson and assessing that learning at the end. The Principal held a very inspirational assembly using a quote from Sol Campbell about performing at your maximum consistently so that your maximum becomes the norm, which is greatly supported by the ‘must, could, should’ objectives teachers use regularly at BCA. Simon introduced me to the ‘comfort, stretch, panic’ concept that really got me thinking about where I would place myself on the curve with regards to my teaching abilities and experiences at Millfield and also how I could use this concept to get students to independently assess themselves during P.E lessons. It simply entices you think, “Am I working as hard as I could be?”

Most prudently, BCA incorporates an authentic and differential scaffold for learning in terms of its teaching, pastoral support and extra-curricular activities to equip their students with the necessary skills and tools that will make a difference to their lives. I feel extremely privileged to have been part of BCA and would love to return to see the unequivocal success of all its determination and hard work.

Thank you very much for this opportunity Simon and Ali, and all the best!
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