Jump BCA Bath

At the end of last term, a group of students resisted the temptation to go to Alton Towers or paint balling in favour of making the latest BCA Parkour Video.

The final edit has now been made (thanks to the outstanding I.T support at Bath Community Academy).

The opening sequence was inspired by the video embedded in the blog post about Physical Literacy.

In the video, Richard Keegan says that he “wants kids to experience the joy of interacting successfully with the world around them” and to “fall in love with moving”.

I felt that these two comments work quite nicely with the video.

By the way, what a lovely City we have the pleasure of living and learning in!

Huge thanks to everyone that supported us in the filming of the video.


#realpe does intra-school competition

As we approach the end of term 2, every student at BCA is preparing to take part in their second competitive inter community event this year. #realpe should be inclusive, provide appropriate levels of challenge for every student, provide opportunities to develop multi abilities and allow/encourage students to make progress. This should result in a positive experience and develop better learners. So here is how we provide this in a competitive situation…

We start off the year delivering a unit to all KS3 students called ‘Learn to compete, compete to learn‘ – written by Create Development. It is made up of innovative activities and creative strategies to enable every child to prepare for and learn through healthy and inclusive competition.
One of it’s key features is the competition spectrum that starts off at one end of the continuum with students being supported to set personal bests and challenge themselves to improve. At the other end of the continuum is competing directly against other individuals / teams.

Term 1 Inter Community 
The first experience of intra-school competition comes at the end of Term 1, where all students take part in X-Country. There are three courses of differing distance / terrain / challenge (Bronze, Silver, Gold). Each student is asked to choose an appropriate level of challenge and sets a personal target (can be linked to previous years time/distance).

There is a major focus on personal skills, having the confidence to challenge one self and have the desire and commitment to be the best you can be. Points were awarded for finish positions so that an overall winning community can be celebrated.

Term 2 development
In term 2, the students are challenged to compete in teams and against other teams in ‘capture the flag’ (happening this week). This is a great game which I have written about before on this blog. It allows students of all (physical) abilities to take part together, without having to rely on any sport specific skills (which is all to often a barrier to learning). Instead it requires basic levels of fundamental movement skills and tactical demands. It provides an increase in challenge from the first competition.

The focus of this weeks capture the flag tournaments are social, personal and cognitive cogs of learning (Accelerating Abilities – Create Development). Students will have their own specific targets, based on the following:

Social foci-
Taking on different roles within their team
Leading small groups
Contributing to team decisions
Motivating and inspiring others in the team

Personal foci- 
Improve performance through practice
React positively to failure
Stay calm when things get difficult
See new activities as a challenge and not a threat
Maintain performance in high pressure situations

Cognitive foci-
Recognise patterns of play that increase the chances of success
Plan tactics and strategies
Adapt to changing situations
Review game plans in order to improve performance

Staff will feedback to students regarding their learning and sign post key learning moments. Students unable to play due to health/fitness will be ‘learning analysts’. They will be given key learning behaviours and look to identify which students are demonstrating which behaviours (cognitive skills). They then feedback to the students in a similar way that the staff do (thus improving them socially). Students forgetting kit will be given kit to borrow.

I am hopeful that 100% of students will be involved with a vast majority wanting to be performers.

A far cry from the ‘traditional’ intra-school rugby I used to run, which engaged mainly those students that were already playing school or club rugby and neglected those that didn’t. Reinforcing the fact that they didn’t like sport or weren’t any good at it.

The debate is moving forward – #realpe

This article reflects the reason why there must be a differentiation between physical education and school sport.

The negative experiences in this article do not happen for pupils taught by members of my department. If they did, I would deem the lessons to be a “4”.

Old school teachers would say it’s character building – I would say it’s destructive and disengaging.

PE must be inclusive, meaning that every pupil must be given the opportunity and support in lessons to make progress. The common misconception (and mistake still being made by some PE teachers) is that progress needs to be focused on physical skills and performance in sport. It doesn’t.

Physical Education should develop pupils socially, personally, creatively, cognitively and develops knowledge and understanding about how the body responds to physical activity. All this is achieved through physical activities, which subsequently improves physical / sporting performance.

By the time pupils reach secondary school, not all pupils are “sporty”. We all have different interests. This should be acknowledged and respected. Not all pupils are proficient at basic fundamental movement skills – especially if they have spent a majority their PE lessons at primary school playing team sports in a competitive environment, instead of developing their physical literacy through a broader range of more inclusive multi-skill activities. There are also a range of fitness levels, affected by a combination of lifestyle, environmental and genetic factors. This needs to be handled with sensitivity.

So lets take the example of running the 1500m from the article. Why would a PE teacher get an “average” group of pupils to run a timed 1500m? If you get every pupil in the class to “run” the 1500m, the likely outcomes would be:

-pupils are likely to realise they can’t run 1500m without stopping.
– a majority of pupils are taught that they are unfit and that they aren’t as good as the others in the class.
– There can only be one winner, with upto 25 losers (pending on group size).

No skills developed, just confidence knocked and enjoyment of physical activity in most (if not all pupils) depleted.

Instead, I use a range of lessons to develop pacing skills, which gets pupils to work in small groups, set targets, review performances, give and receive feedback and develop a clear understanding of how their body works and challenge themselves appropriately.

For example, following a series of pacing activities, I would use the 1500m world record time to set a challenge to the pupils – how far can you run in 3mins 26secs.  
-Pupils pair up with a partner with similar fitness levels.
-pupils travel as far as possible in the WR time – setting a personal best – the first level of competition pupils need to achieve.
-pupils review their performance – in terms of distance (results) and their pacing (performance).
– pupils challenged to run at a steady pace for the set time and to improve on their distance achieved (beating pb, second level of competition).
-pupils plan second attempt and set target.
-another review, possibly another performance.
-possibly running one partner at a time and the other pupil acting as coach/motivator, giving time updates, checking progress, cheering and encouraging etc.

Structuring the lesson in this manner allows every pupil to develop a range of skills and to achieve success by beating their own personal best regardless of fitness levels.

The very fittest pupils should be encouraged to maximise their performance and be provided with clear opportunities to compete at a higher level through sports days and local / regional athletic meetings, as well as be given details of local athletic clubs so that their potential can be nurtured, while the PE department continue to develop all the qualities they will need if they are to become an elite athlete.

Therefore, we must set appropriate level of physical challenge in lessons for every pupil and a range of multi ability opportunities for them to develop so that every pupil enjoys the level of challenge and identities that progress is being made.

If personalised learning can be achieved, pupils enjoy PE, confidence levels increase and pupils seek to either:
-become involved in more recreational activity
– peruse more competitive sporting opportunities…

Which is where school sport and the links to local clubs comes into the equation.

Thoughts about school sport needs a whole new blog post. Watch this space!

Written on my phone so apologies for formatting and punctuation!

Guest Post – Phil Wylie

In 2001, Phil Wylie (Twitter- @inspir_EDPhil ) completed his PGCE in Secondary PE on the same course  as me at Bath University. Since then, Phil has worked in both a Secondary and Primary setting.

Here is a fantastic piece written by Phil that describes how his philosophy has transformed his teaching from delivering the traditional physical skill focused schemes of work to using learning journeys that focus on a holistic approach to child development.

Enjoy the read.

Investment in the learner as a person accelerates all their learning. As they become more confident, resilient, resourceful, socially developed with a growth mindset they also enhance their ability at sports, music and anything else” (Carol Dweck)
During the past 3 years since my redundancy at my secondary PE teaching job, I have been in the fortunate position to work as a School sports coordinator. This has allowed me the opportunity to work at both primary and secondary level observing best practice around the country and given me time to reflect on my own teaching practice and philosophy.  This time has seen an improvement in my own teaching as a result of some changes in my teaching philosophy.
5 years ago I genuinely believed it was an important skill for a child to learn how to hold a hockey stick correctly, dribble a small ball around several cones accurately using the “correct” side of the stick. It use to frustrate me when a child got this wrong or couldn’t remember which side of the stick was the legal side to touch the ball ‘according to the rules’. However, a thought occurred to me one day; if the same children who I tried (and failed) to teach this skill to asked me “when was the last time you used this skill sir?” I would have to own up and say……….”I can’t remember”. Clearly it is not an essential skill as the likelihood of me using it on a daily basis is limited to whether or not I am an amateur or professional hockey player. I considered the point further asking; does the same philosophy apply to other PE skills such as a forward roll, a lay up, a cruyff turn?

I began to consider ‘what is important about PE and sport’?  A sports specific skill isn’t necessarily an essential skill, but the process of the skill is. The ability to see a challenge in front of me or something I have not tried before, the courage to have a go, the resilience and determination to keep trying when at first I fail at the task and embrace the challenge, the confidence to ask for help when needed and the then act on advice and finally the confidence to demonstrate my learning and progress to others. And what about the creativity to find new and different ways to use the skill?
David Milliband (2003) stated the sole purpose of a 21stcentury education was “learning to learn for a lifetime of change”. If this is the case, then we need to do more than attempt to perfect sports skills within PE and prepare our young people for the jobs, careers, technologies of the future and a life outside of school. Observations of PE in secondary schools over the last few years highlighted the huge emphasis we place on developing sports skills rather than personalising our approach for the learner.
Departments often based their curriculum on availability of facilities or timetable issues or to ensure rugby was taught in line with local school leagues/competitions so that the school can “put out a strong team as nobody comes to training if we aren’t doing it in lessons”. Unfortunately, extra curricular teams represent less than 10% of our student,s so in such instances we are designing our curriculum around a small cohort rather than personalising opportunities for every child. As an SSCO running regular festivals and competitions for children, I noticed that often the same children represented their school in several sports i.e. if they were good footballers they were good games players and therefore could play basketball or rugby as well. Schools were not providing opportunities for as many students as they thought. Many school team players already played for local teams and therefore already had opportunities outside of school regardless of whether the school provide the same opportunity.
Recently there has been a noticeable change in thinking and focus within other PE departments.
My attention was then drawn towards the way we celebrate progress and success with our youngsters. Traditionally I praised students who successfully completed a task/skill or who played well during a game, ignoring effort, determination and students who overcome challenges – essentially all the behaviours I really wanted to see from my students. Carol Dweck showed that by praising positive behaviours we develop children with “growth mindsets” where they believe they can improve and develop through effort and that talent and ability is not innate.
My response to this period of reflection was to change the way I taught and align my philosophy with my teaching. Whether I am working in a primary or secondary environment, with able or less able students my approach is to develop every child as a person and prepare them as happy, successful life long learners with a growth mindset.
How do I choose the focus of my lessons? I get to know my students, learn their strengths and areas for development and then personalise learning by focusing on the skills that will achieve the above. No longer do I follow rigid sports skills schemes of work and instead use learning journeys focusing on wider essential life skills meaning assessment for learning is much more clear to students. In my PE lessons there are physical and non physical outcomes and in the attempt to include and value all children from the beginning of the lesson. There is choice and trust as I shift as much responsibility for learning toward the learner themselves not only through activities but through peer feedback and assessment for learning. When a child is successful we celebrate their success as a class as children are actively encouraged to observe and acknowledge their peers.
Impact on learning
There have been several improvements I have seen as a result of the change in my teaching.
Recently a secondary Head of PE said to me “I have Year 13 students who cant analyse and evaluate strengths and weaknesses of performance for their A level work”. I was very proud to inform him that I had 30 year 4 students who were all capable of observing and analysing performance and giving some helpful feedback to their peers. I added that as a result of having 30 young teachers in my class all students have made accelerated progress in their physical skills. My point was that if start to develop these essential skills in the early years students will be able to demonstrate and apply the skills appropriately in later years as well as well as having improved sports skills.
Regardless of physical ability students display more desire to engage and make progress in PE lessons. Individuals are much clearer about where they are in their learning and what the next step is in their journey. By focussing on wider skills more children if not all feel valued and included in lessons from the beginning of lessons and are motivated on self improvement and personal best as opposed to comparing themselves with the “gifted and talented” peers. In fact students whose physical skills are below that of their peers actually can make accelerated physical progress in lessons as a result of having higher level personal and social skills.
Overall, I feel that by focusing on developing the wider skills, students are actually better prepared to be successful learners across all their subjects.
“As they become more confident, resilient, resourceful, socially developed with a growth mindset they also enhance their ability at sports, music and anything else” (Carol Dweck)

Culverhay PE Recognised for Innovation

This afternoon, the Chairman of Bath and North East Somerset (BANES) Council paid a visit to Culverhay to present a certificate and cheque for £100 in recognition of the innovative work the PE Department is doing to encourage it’s pupils to engage in physical activity.

The award was for…

The School that has shown the most innovative way to encourage its pupils to enhance physical activity and to regularly exercise”

Although we did not win the award, we were given a ‘highly commended’. The winning school was Wellsway Sports and Science Academy for the amazing work they are doing to inspire all of their pupils to engage with the Olympics. Lou Riddoch, Head of Specialism at the sports college, is doing a fantastic job at being a lead school both regionally and nationally to promote the games and inspire pupils. 

Here is just one example of the work they are doing… 


Below is my entry for the award.

At Culverhay school, we feel that every pupil has the ability to be successful in PE and through physcial activity, can become more resilient and motivated learners. With this in mind, we have done two things that have made a dramatic difference to how we deliver PE.
A change of ethos
Firstly, we redefined what it means to be ‘successful’ in PE. For years, it has been perceived that only those that are good at sport are good at PE (and therefore more likely to enjoy their experience). Those that either don’t like sport, or lack the physical motor skills to be ‘good’, often disengage from PE as the curriculum offer reinforces their perception of their own ability and their dislike of sport.
Secondly, we have considered what skills are required to develop a pupil’s physical literacy and to become a more effective learner. These come under 6 headings; physical, health and fitness, social, personal, cognitive and creative. For each of these areas, we use levels that link to the National Curriculum attainment levels. All of our lessons now focus on one or more of these skills, which we have found has allowed all pupils to make greater progress.
As part of the development of pupils personal skills, they become more skilled at setting appropriate individual targets which allow them to be ‘stretched’. They understand that if a task is too easy, then they will be in their ‘comfort’ zone and if a task is too difficult, then they are in their ‘panic’ zone. In both cases, learning is slowed. Understanding that when the appropriate ‘stretch’ is applied in tasks they maximise their learning, allows pupils to take ownership of their own learning journey, which increases motivation to succeed. Pupils have become more socially skilled in PE, which has developed a culture of respect and peer support. Pupils respect the fact that everyone is at different stages of their learning journey, and they have the skills and understanding to support them in that journey, especially those that are finding elements of their learning difficult. This has had a major impact on engagement in PE.
Inclusive curriculum
Our curriculum at KS3 is designed so that all pupils are engaged and challenged in PE. In our first term, we deliver ‘Dealing with competitive situations’ or ‘competition’ for short, and ‘problem solving in an outdoor environment’. This unit takes place predominantly in woodland adjacent to the school grounds. We focus on the ‘social’ and ‘personal’ skills of the pupils. We have found that pupils sometimes lack the skills to work with and support each other, and they can have a tendency to give up on tasks easily when the going gets tough, both of which can prove to be a significant barrier to their learning. By writing schemes of work to specifically target these issues, engages a higher percentage of the learners, and gives them a strong foundation on which to build on throughout the rest of the year.

Following the first 8 weeks of PE, pupils are crystal clear on the expectations on them as individuals in terms of how to conduct themselves in PE lessons and how it is appropriate to react in certain situations. The Olympic and Paralympic values are heavily used in the competition unit. Also, pupils are made aware of the challenges and benefits of working with others, and are given opportunities to develop the skills required to do this. By using social skill assessment levels, pupils easily understand what they need to do in order to progress.  We find that this engages the pupils far more than running rugby in core PE. Rugby is offered as an extra curricular activity for all pupils.

Our curriculum at KS4 allows pupils to choose 9 activity areas from a possible 27. Pupils have to choose from a performance (focus on improving performance), leadership (developing leadership skills) or health/Olympic values (focus on healthy and active lifestyle and / or promoting the Olympic Values) option. This allows all pupils to engage in activities that suit their particular interests and skills. We cover a range ‘traditional’ sports such as football, rugby and basketball. In addition to these, we offer a more diverse range of activities including mountaineering skills, parkour, Parlympic sports, Waboba, volleyball, and walking units. Each unit is delivered in
Inclusive competition
Each term, we have an inter house competition in which all pupils have to participate in. In Term 1, we hold a Cross country event. Pupils are given three possible routes (Gold, Silver and Bronze). The boys are challenged to run the same (or harder) course than the previous year, and improve their time and/or position. The variety of courses provide an opportunity for all pupils to take part at a level that they feel stretches themselves, but doesn’t force them into doing anything that will be to much for them, and therefore demotivate them.
Pupils set their own individual targets, and if they meet or exceed that target, they win their race.
By redefining the way PE is delivered at Culverhay School, we have built a culture where all pupils are confident of making good progress in PE, are engaged with the curriculum and are more physically active as they strive to make progress on their individual learning journey. As a result, pupils are becoming more happy and successful learners in other parts of the school.

It’s all about the winning!

Create Development’s new “learning to compete, competing to learn” programme allows pupils to experience increasingly challenging competitive situations using a competition continuum.

The usual logistical planning of sports day is gathering pace, but this year, another important foundation is being prepared.

We are helping pupils to redefine what success means to them. In doing this, pupils are able to set their own differentiated targets for their sports day performance.

Targets may include:

  • build up enough courage to take part in a race or event.
  • compete against themselves within a race or event to achieve a personal best
  • compete against others to improve on a finishing position from a previous year
  • compete against others to achieve a particular position in the race
  • to win the race

It is key that the pupils take the responsibility of choosing their own goals.

It is possible that every pupil wins their own race on sports day. If they do, they will have to go through the same redefining process for next years sports day and set themelves a new goal!

Sport for all

More great work from our SSCo, Mark.

This is part of his email sent to the primary school teachers in preparation for next weeks festival.

Gives you a flavour of our inclusive philosophy to accelerate learning for as many pupils and children in our community as possible.

I have attached a plan for next week’s ‘Tag Tails’ Festival. The layout out is a little different as we are getting lots more boys involved with the leadership of such events. Our Young Leader programme at Culverhay has really taken off this year with it even being taught during curriculum lessons, this should hopefully provide us with more and more quality leaders.  
You will have 3 teams now, 2 in the sports hall and 1 in the old gym. They are to be split in accordance to ability, the C team who will be based in the old gym will be the children who sometimes lack confidence or do not particularly engage with team sports, a more inclusive approach to our festivals. Having a C team pitch will hopefully facilitate more enjoyment for this type of child, especially now that we are bringing whole year groups.
Each game will be 10 a-side, I have tried to avoid any clashes of games as I know that some schools don’t have 30 children, thus I don’t mind schools using children in more than one team. (This doesn’t affect St. Michaels or St. Philips however.)
We are looking forward to welcoming you to Culverhay for our 116th festival!
Kind regards,
Mark G

Good work Mark.