We are really proud of the success we have in engaging, supporting and celebrating the progress of all our students, in particular those with special educational needs (SEN).
Since changing our ethos to a multi ability approach in PE, we have experienced many positive changes around the quality of teaching and learning and the amount of progress our students make. Not least is the impact it has had on the students with SEN.
We have also challenged the traditional ways of setting in PE (as explained in previous posts). We recently reviewed the students in our PE groups. Four SEN students were amongst six who moved up to “top set”. The decision was based on rewarding progress, demonstration of a positive attitude and learning behaviors in lessons and not solely on physical ability. The message being sent out to the students is clear… those in the top set demonstrate positive learning behaviours, which is leading to making accelerated progress. We are helping students to understand that these qualities will help them to be successful in PE and sport and quashing the mindset that only naturally “gifted” students can be good at PE and sport.
Last year, I wrote a post called Dodge or bump, which talked about carefully planning to support (bumping) autistic students through certain situations, rather than dodging them all together. A concept I found out about from Matt Lloyd (Springfieldspe.Wordpress.com). This mindset ties in nicely with our over arching academy aim of preparing young people to thrive as adults in society. Dodging students from situations they will find challenging doesn’t always help to achieve this.
I have heard of some schools that still do not successfully engage all of their SEN children, instead choosing to dodge the situation by arranging alternative provision or at worst, offering no provision at all.
Recently, several practitioners from the south west of England, shadowed me for the day to discuss and challenge my approach to #realpe. In the afternoon, I had a Year 9 football lesson. I decided to give all the students an option to develop tactical awareness (using cognitive and social skills) through playing a match/tournament or to develop individual ball skills (social and personal skills).
Seven students chose ball skills, and played a game called “Donkey”. Their Learning intentions were:
Must – change a rule to make an activity more fun or challenging.
Should – take on different roles to support my group
Could – involve others and motivate those around you to perform better.
Whilst none of these actually refer directly to improving ball control, as we so often see in #realpe, by focusing on these skills, the group worked far better than they would have by just trying to focus on their physical skills. The game changed constantly, maintaining high levels of challenge and students remained more fully engaged due to the ownership they had of developing the game.
I floated between the two groups, fully confident that they would all be working well in front of the visitors. The proudest moment of the day happened when I went to review the progress of the donkey group. The group included an autistic student (recently moved to the “top set”) who took great delight in telling me about the new role he introduced to the group (must learning intention) and then proceeded to enforce that rule for the duration of the game about (should – taking on a role to support the group), in addition to taking it upon himself to be spokesperson for the group, telling me about everyone else’s rule changes. He then gave positive feedback to the other students who had also introduced new rules (could – motivating others) and suggested ideas for those that hadn’t.
When I explained to the visiting teachers about this particular students background and the progress he has made, they were astounded. This was matched by the pride I had for the student and the continued progress he is making.
What is also amazing, is how mixing students in this manner has not only supported the less physically able to work alongside the more physically able, but also how it has helped develop the traditional “top set” students’ ability to work with students with SEN.
A very special part of the job.