Shifting focus – Makes all the difference

By Tim Dancer, Director of real PE

Well it has been a while! You may remember that my blog begun the journey of my wife Sonia as a real PE teacher in a primary school in Southampton. If you didn’t catch it, click here to read more.

Fraught with the perils of trying to support your spouse (and often doing it badly!) we are pleased to say the journey is going well and is firmly on the right track.

So, last time, we got to a good place where children were engaged, challenged and included in all PE lessons, with Sonia making great use of the supporting resources of real PE, especially the FUNS cards. However, some fundamental learning skills were lacking in the children – listening, taking turns, keeping going when things are tough. Lessons were stalling and Sonia’s frustration was evident (the makers of Prosecco were the winners).

This brought about the Multi-Abilities shift of focus. We discussed the abilities her learners needed to be successful in PE and developed a plan to focus on these in her lessons in an overt way. Three strategies were agreed upon:

1. Get the Multi-Ability assessment posters up and start talking about them in a PE context.

2. Teach these abilities – If you want to get children to share and take turns, make sure you give out fewer pieces of equipment and get them into pairs/small teams!

3. Praise it! Sonia liked the Treasure Chest idea for Foundation Stage/Key Stage 1 and Special Mentions for Key Stage 2.

The results… astounding! real PE learning wall – up! Children discussing the Multi-Abilities! real PE coming to life.

In her own words:

“Feels a bit strange writing this, but Tim has promised me he won’t tweak it! Shifting to the Multi-Abilities focus has been a journey. Whether it was me trying too hard to teach the games the ‘right’ way or following the Lesson Plans in the early stages, the cogs got lost a bit! However, I needed to make the switch.

It was Year 6. It was football. It was everything you expect. 1 boy in the Southampton Saints system, 4 others chomping to play, 3 girls keen to get involved but 22 others not bothered, unmotivated or terrified. It was time to get the Creative Cog spinning!

We discussed creativity in PE as they were changing. We watched a clip of Messi and Suarez’s penalty kicks to get the ideas flowing. The children used all the right language – flair, imagination, outside the box and we linked these words to the Assessment Posters to bring the learning to life.

The lesson challenge was to get creative with their football skills. For sending and receiving in different ways, I cheated a bit and used ‘All Change’ to start, but I made it football by having the children pass with their feet! FUNS Station 8 provided a skill progression for them and my non-performer (a boy with autism) was giving out the badges of honour (stickers) to those who were showing creativity during the lesson.

The difference it made? 30 children engaged and included. 30 children exploring creativity in a game most do not like. The most able were being challenged for the first time in a football lesson.

I think the cogs are here to stay!”

The thing is, she took it a step further… She started to get children assessing themselves not only in their Fundamental Movement Skills (FMS) using FUNS but also the Multi-Abilities. Key Stage 2 children were accessing the posters to chart progress in the ‘cog’!