Project Phoenix Parkour

Following a lull in parkour at BCA, it is now back with a vengeance in term 6. The PE department at BCA are offering parkour as an option in Project Phoenix, a Friday afternoon enrichment programme.

There are over 30 Options this term, including street dance, lawn bowls, film club, international group (who plan and go on trips around Europe at the end of the term), ATC, community litter pick, road cycling (at Odd Down’s new cycle track where Chris Hoy opened on Wednesday – with some of our staff and students going to meet him and cycle around with him), volunteer work at Bath City Farm, skate board / scooter club, gardening, master chef, school production/drama group, Phoenix Radio broadcasting and more.

Despite this wide offer, 30 students from Year 7-10 chose to do parkour, making it the most popular activity.

The aim of this particular project is to produce a free running video, which involves all students, leading a tour around the BCA campus. The students are being challenged to use the environment in creative ways.

As is the nature of PE at BCA, the students will be challenged in a range of abilities, not just physically. Creativity, social, cognitive and personal skills are all being challenged and developed. As with our lessons, success is measured by the progress of these skills, allowing every student to make good progress and increase motivation regardless of their physical ability. The end result being that all students make more improvement in performance.

Each week, the students are allocated an area of the academy, where they then have to use the environment to come up with short sequences as individuals or in small groups. Once this has been achieved, they then ask myself or my colleague Ali (www.positivepe.wordpress.com) to video it.

Creative Cog
We encourage all students to look at the environment around them and find creative ways of traveling around it. Students have to assess risk by identifying the potential hazards, and implementing appropriate control measures (putting a gym mat down, or having a spotter on the first attempt). If students want to try any “high tariff” move, they must first seek advice and permission from staff, who will assist in the risk assessment. A critical part of this assessment is knowing the students experience and skill level.

Personal cog
Through their experience in #realpe, students have become very good at creating tasks and then adapting them to increase or decrease the difficulty. For example, if a group of students wanted to use a picnic bench for a sequence (as they did yesterday), they created the following variations:
– some used the bench as an aid to stand on, to get up to the table and then again on the way down,
– some vaulted it without using the bench,
– one student jumped onto the table and did a hand stand with half twist on dismount,
– one student vaulted it length ways (who was the smallest in the group!).

Students, as always, are encouraged to find the appropriate levels of stretch for themselves, and to not compare themselves to others in the group. They do this as they know that is how they make the most progress. I have written before about how parkour has improved student’s ability to identify and manage risk 

Social cog
There is a large emphasis on working together, sharing ideas, supporting peers to think of ideas and then encouraging them when they are trying to master the skill/move/sequence. For the more socially advanced and more experienced free runners, they can give supportive feedback to the younger students and more detailed and critical feedback to improve their peers.

Cognitive cog
Using this method of delivery, students are constantly being required to select, execute, analyse, review and adapt to improve performance. The more ownership that students can have doing this, the better they become. An outstanding teacher will give students the structure and confidence to do this, holding back to allow them to experience the process, whilst at the same time keeping an eye on them, and supporting them when required.

We plan to edit a video to show at our “Hall of Fame” event on Monday 15th July. Watch this space…

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