Stop focusing on ‘sport’

By Tim Dancer, Director, South

If we want to make a real difference to PE in our schools, we need to stop focusing on ‘sport’ and being distracted by fads! 

 

Now that has got your attention, let me explain. I am not saying sport is bad, more like it has been the master of PE for too long, dominating and driving the subject. I am also not saying that engaging, innovative ideas aren’t great…as long as they are grounded in quality teaching and learning!

Most primary school teachers’ memories of PE are dominated by sport and are not positive. In fact, the most common two words used to describe their personal experiences when we asked over 20,000 as part of real PE training – ‘humiliating’ and ‘embarrassing’. They certainly do not remember PE fondly! They then went on, as do current graduates, to receive very limited training at university – six hours is often quoted as the time spent on the subject.

They then arrive in school and are faced with a PE curriculum which is sport driven and lacks the child centred focus they are trained to deliver across other subjects. They are also bombarded with fads and gimmicks – ‘click here and let this screen teach your children’. It must seem attractive to those who are asked to teach a subject they did not enjoy or have little confidence in teaching. I wonder if such options are given over to the teaching of literacy and numeracy?

Put simply, a sport focus or the following of fads may enable us to make a child run today, but it is only by developing a positive relationship with physical activity for life through quality teaching and learning and a holistic approach that we will truly transform the habits of staff and children.

May I therefore suggest four simple steps to help transform PE?

Step 1: Look at the outcomes of PE and clearly focus on the skills and abilities children need to reach these. 

If we were to take the aims of the National Curriculum for PE, the Purpose of Study and the key indicators of the PE and Sport Premium we would see 3 broad consistent outcomes emerge:

  • To develop lifelong participation and through this have a positive impact on health and wellbeing
  • To help children reach their full potential in PE and School Sport (competitive best)
  • To develop and contribute to whole child / whole school improvement

Firstly, can I say that I am delighted that the importance of the development of Fundamental Movement Skills (FMS), allowing all children to unlock their physical potential, is now truly recognised and I welcome the shift to this within PE. However, what further skills and abilities do children need to learn to reach all these outcomes? What really is more important? Side foot pass in football or communication? Rules of cricket or analysing performance? A forward roll or resilience? Copying from a video or creativity? In fact, if we want children to develop their FMS they need, amongst other things, to be able to listen, follow instructions and try hard!

The answers are simple and obvious – develop the physical literacy, emotional AND thinking skills children need… In other words, put the learning first.

If we want children to develop communication skills in PE, we must make it a clear focus for learning, with teachers planning for it, sharing a clear outcome then praising and developing these skills as they would any other learning in any other lesson. The activity or game we use should be the servant to this learning.

The handy outcome of focusing on these skills and abilities instead of just the sport or game? Teachers valuing PE as a subject because of the learning opportunities it offers and the transfer of positive learning behaviours to the classroom. The good news is that the children improve physically too, so there is no compromise.

Step 2: Capture hearts and minds with quality training. 

We are asking a lot of teachers to achieve the first step without quality CPD. This should be engaging, empathetic and enable them to feel like the experts they are!

This should be coupled with an approach to PE based on quality teaching and learning, something teachers know well. Let us empower them to use this knowledge so that PE too provides:

  • A high ambition for EVERY child
  • Clear learning outcomes based on the skills and abilities we want to improve
  • Progressive challenges to include and stretch EVERY child
  • Praise for positive learning behaviours
  • Review and celebration of progress
  • Collaborative opportunities for children to share and deepen their learning
  • A shift of control to empower the learner through choice

If we can align the delivery of PE to the skills in teaching they have, rather than the knowledge of sports they often don’t have, we can transform the culture of PE. Off the shelf solutions or fads just will not work in achieving this change, often instead, having the opposite effect. Click here to find out more.

Step 3: Provide proper long term support.

This needs to be in the shape of both quality resources and teaching aids that align Steps 1 and 2 alongside deeper in-school support.

Resources should be easy to use, thematic, progressive, engaging and Key Stage appropriate. The curriculum map, Schemes of Work and Lesson Plans teachers use should be learning focused (Step 1) and based on quality teaching and learning (Step 2). From the school wide assessment framework through to the activities used, they should support teachers to align their beliefs to their words and actions, allowing them to focus on bringing the learning to life for their children.

It must also be recognised that some teachers need more help than others. This means longitudinal in-school support is needed to help embed the approaches, see lessons in action and build the confidence of staff. The ultimate goal is to build the capability and capacity of teachers to make sustainable improvements and whole school impact.

Step 4: Measure impact! 

Sounds silly doesn’t it, to even have to say this, but we often miss it? This is not because we forget but because it is very hard to do when Steps 1, 2 and 3 are missed!

How can we demonstrate an impact on teacher confidence without changing hearts and minds with quality CPD?

How can we demonstrate improvements in pupil engagement without a learning focused and engaging curriculum delivered expertly?

How can we demonstrate pupil progress without having a clear assessment framework and supporting learning journeys aligned to the resources the teachers are using?

How can we demonstrate broader whole school impact if we all we do is focus on sport, instead of the skills and abilities children need across PE, Sport and the wider curriculum?

Impact should be simple to measure if we align our beliefs to actions.

We should be proud and excited of what PE can achieve for children and schools.

My plea: 

  • Stop being ‘sport’ driven or distracted by fads.
  • Keep focusing on quality teaching and learning.
  • Start believing in the real difference PE can make.

Click here to find out how your school can make the very best PE and Sport Premium investment and show the impact it has made.

 

Listen to those who didn’t get home

By Ronnie Heath, Managing Director

I read recently about the statisticians who had the unenviable task of trying to increase the percentage of Second World War bomber pilots getting home safely. They carefully studied the patterns of the bullet holes and damage to the planes to try and devise the best way to reinforce these areas to give them extra protection. Too much armour would slow the planes down but placing it in the right spots could greatly increase their chances of getting home, they believed. However, all of their experiments failed until a smart new recruit asked the question, “Shouldn’t we be studying the ones who didn’t get home?” They immediately increased success by putting armour over the engines, the very place where there was no damage to the planes that did get home! It got me thinking: Is this not exactly the same mistake we make with PE and Sport?

Major national organisations that have over decades received really large amounts of cash, running into billions, have made no significant impact on PE and Sport for those that need it most. Their leaders are passionate, well-meaning orators from our minority elite club ‘who did get home’, and are therefore under qualified and without the necessary empathy to make a change which would impact on those left behind. We create our own super echo chamber that both excludes the voices of the very people we claim to care about alongside, perversely, finding ways to blame others – primary school teachers, headteachers, coaches and even the children themselves – for our failures. We at Create accept the responsibility of having to change the way we train and support teachers, coaches and parents, many of whom are desperate to do better. Most of all though, we know that we have to listen to those ‘who didn’t get home’.

Why are so many still teaching PE and coaching Sport as if the world was flat? We repeat and model the same two dimensional approach that will never work for a world that is round. An holistic approach that is about them and their needs will support the development of well-rounded children.

Well-rounded children need a well-rounded approach

Professor Tanya Byron, Child Psychologist, reminds us that children today are more tolerant, more compassionate, more thoughtful and more open minded. Yet they are much less active, more anxious, more likely to struggle with mental health, more likely to self-harm and more likely to have eating disorders. “Our children are the first generation growing up in captivity,” she observes, when describing how the radius of play has decreased to the extent that many children rarely play away from their own homes. I suggest many are simply not equipped to cope with the stresses and challenges we face in the wild.

The lie we tell is that PE and Sport are best placed to deal with these problems. The real truth is that when done very well this is true but, when done badly, negative experiences can be truly traumatic. PE and Sport have the potential to exasperate, be part of the problem, or become great tools and environments which address these issues. Done poorly, PE and Sport create feelings of inadequacy, develop enduring negative attitudes and abilities, engender helplessness or cause ostracism. Done well, they promote self-esteem, resilience, critical thinking, connectivity and a sense of belonging. We have an extraordinary opportunity as educators to provide some of the very best solutions for mental health challenges. We can be the best and most important subject in schools if we embrace those core elements.

“Our memories of events both good and bad are entwined with our emotions and lie at the very heart of our identities and personalities, they make us who we are.”
The Human body: Secrets of your lives

But we still reach out for quick two dimensional fixes. Our approaches to PE and Sport are devised and led by those who emerged unscathed through the clouds. And so we carry on regardless of what we know is no longer true but is still supported and largely financed by caring, well-meaning people.

Therefore, for example, we champion daily running! Forgetting that our role is to educate our primary school children and create a positive relationship with physical activity for life, we send them on a run. Astonishingly, even with all the evidence we have against it, we still choose to make primary school children do what is effectively a 12 minute fitness test every day rather than encourage and equip them with the right attitudes, knowledge and skills to choose to be active later in life.

Jeremy Hunt, the Culture Secretary at the time, told us “The 2012 Olympics will reinvigorate our sporting habits”. The Government gave £1 Billion to spend on grassroots sports which we spent on the wrong people…to make NO significant difference whatsoever.

We have to challenge this practice. As former President Barack Obama reminded us recently “If you are neutral in situations of injustice you are supporting the oppressor”.  What we permit we promote.

Some enlightened colleagues argue that the key is to emphasise the word ‘education’ in PE. I do agree with the principle but let’s be careful also to ensure those who coach Sport to children understand that they have a huge responsibility to educate too.

We are allowed therefore to pretend, often unchallenged, that the world is flat, assuming that our priority and our core outcomes are to teach sport specific skills to children. We still do stuff that we know is no longer true. Year after year, stuff that has never worked still goes on, prioritising winning next Saturday or the next tournament over developing every child to be better problem solvers, communicators, leaders and people.

As teacher trainers or coach educators we have a responsibility to translate, keep things simple, support teachers and coaches to understand ‘why’, establish priorities and, above all, create practical solutions that align our beliefs and values with what we say and what we do. Less is nearly always more when we search for the very simple things that make the biggest difference. Rather than complicate things, we need to help teachers and coaches make sense of their role and explore ways to better engage all children, personalise their experience and find simple practical ways to implement that philosophy.

Fundamental emotional skills, thinking skills and movement skills are essential

Our secondary schools’ PE departments have got better at explaining what they can achieve through PE but have seen their status and opportunity dwindle as many fail to reflect their claims in their practice. Doing things because they have always done them and in a way they have always done them won’t achieve their claims. As Sir John Jones, Education Leader suggests, “When all is said and done, a lot more is said than done”.

With primary schools, this is simply not a big jump. They really understand learning and whole child development better than anyone. Some inevitably get pulled off course a little by the pressure of Literacy and Maths results but the very best never lose sight of the very skills and behaviours that shape our children’s future.

There is no excuse anymore. The overwhelming evidence and guidance from all education research leads us to understand that the child’s important needs have to come first.

Our aim is to provide each and EVERY child with the Physical, Emotional and Thinking skills to flourish. Our role is to provide the rich conditions and learning nutrition for that to happen. What we do is far less important to the ‘why’ and ‘how’. Let’s demonstrate and model that ambition and pause a little longer to listen to their personal needs and celebrate together with each additional child who gets home.

 

 

True ambition for families. Thanks Mum

Ronnie profileBy Ronnie Heath, Managing Director.

We have to be ambitious for families; they’re far too important to be left to chance.

I was brought up by a single, young teenage mother on a challenging council estate in a very tough city. It isn’t difficult to paint a picture of an extremely disadvantaged learning environment and visualise the likely life flight path for me. It’s all true apart from the fact I wasn’t disadvantaged, I was privileged. At Create we believe we can support families to provide the same privileges for their children. This December is ‘Family Focus Month‘ at Create, as we raise awareness of our family programmes. Sorry, it won’t be the last as we care too much.

When my mum finished work and picked me up from the council nursery in Bell Green and later from St Patrick’s Primary School in Coventry, she then played with me. We ran for the bus together, we played outside and indoors. Active fun and play were not special treats they were what we did. When it got dark we played card games, board games, chess and she read to me and with me. We walked miles and took two buses to the centre of town for swimming lessons and she searched (without the internet) for any activity opportunity that was available for me. I went to school eager to learn and bursting with energy and ambition.

I couldn’t tell my mum that I was recently supporting schemes to help many 11 year olds learn to swim, or that some people in my world once celebrated two hours of PE for each primary school. (Notice how the word ‘quality’ slipped over the years as did any measure of actual physical activity.) I can’t discuss the obesity strategy with her that says children need a minimum of 30 minutes physical activity at school and 30 minutes at home (below recommended health levels and less than half the guidelines of other countries). The reason being she would be flabbergasted at the extraordinarily low expectations.

My mum doesn’t see playing with your children as something amazing she just thinks that’s normal and she does it now with all the grandchildren, all the time, regardless of their age. She would even think sending me to school unable to swim was unacceptable.

One clear ambition we have at Create is to help families enjoy active play together. We are supporting parents and carers with simple strategies and inspiring materials to actively read with their children, play active board games with their children and learn together. But, most importantly, to bask in the sheer joy that comes from active play together.

All parents and carers are desperate to do better for their children and we want to work with schools and community organisations to show them really simple way to support them.

We have some simple ways to help and encourage families to take first steps or do a little more activity through real play supporting resources. But it’s the targeted focused intervention work with real play that gives me joyful tears and goosebumps. The feedback we get from families, schools and children is simply unparalleled.

real PE and real gym continue to grow. They are easy to buy into, help you deliver your primary PE curriculum better and they are the best approaches and supporting resources out there.

The family stuff is more difficult. There you are! I’ve said it. It is difficult. It will take significant effort from incredible professionals already with too much to do. That includes Create staff, school senior managers, teachers, assistants, SENCOs, Family Support Workers, Family Link Teachers and PE practitioners. It’s really tough for us to make the finance work and it requires investment from others to make it happen. But oh my goodness it’s worth it. The impact will be so much deeper and broader than even the most ambitious could imagine.

Come and join us. Be liberated by accepting that while all the very best things are tough to achieve we feel incredibly nourished by every family and every child we can make a difference to.

When what we now describe as amazing becomes normal, I might have the confidence to tell my mum about it.

Ronnie is a former leader in education, award-winning National League coach and National Trainer who established Create in 2006 to inspire teachers and coaches to better include, engage and challenge all young learners.

To find out how you and your school can benefit from real play click here for details of the exciting opportunities available until 31st December 2017.

Born to play

By Cathy Brown, Regional Manager, Midlands

Like all children my son Joshua (now aged 6 years old) loves playing and thanks to our ball obsessed Shih Tzu, Bruce, it wasn’t long before Joshua developed an interest in balls. Throwing, catching, rolling and watching sports and activities that involved balls. I remember questioning if many young toddlers chose to watch Wimbledon, golf or snooker instead of Thomas the Tank Engine or Peppa Pig.

When at 12 months old Joshua came out of the kitchen one day with a wooden spoon and egg cup, we didn’t realise then that this was the start of his golf journey.

Over the months and years, I would regularly hear from nursery about his antics. ‘Today Joshua was playing golf with a wooden strawberry and a piece of train track.”, “Today Joshua has been showing all the other children how to play golf.” One day I made a compilation of Joshua’s golf video clips from across the years which I subsequently posted on a social networking site. A number of comments were posted but there were two comments which attracted my attention:

“Wow what a talented little boy.”
“Relentless determination to move the ball forward.”

These comments made me reflect: did Joshua have a natural talent for golf or was it his experiences and environment that provided him with the opportunity to practice and develop his skills? Was Josh naturally talented or did he develop early positive behaviours that would accelerate his learning and development?

Despite the belief of our family and many of our friends, Joshua did not enter this world with a golf club in his hand. Like all other children, he just liked to play. Not golf specifically, just play.

As a baby and toddler he played, we praised, he tried new things, we praised, he observed, we praised, he explored, we praised. He experienced success and failure, we praised both. He adapted, we praised, he persevered, we praised. Due to our own experiences and interests as a family, on reflection we probably got more excited and praised more when he explored anything that resembled golf; but then doesn’t every grandparent and parent enjoy seeing their child or grandchild do something they enjoy themselves. Joshua soon discovered trying to hitting a ball with an object (any object initially) gave him a positive experience. Family and friends would praise him.

He practiced. For hours each week he practiced and through exploring and playing he learned and developed.

Was Josh born to play golf OR born to play and explore? Was it Joshua’s positive experiences through explorative play and the opportunity to observe and copy the sport of golf which made him feel positive and confident whenever he practiced golf related activities?. After all, aren’t we all more likely to persevere with something that makes us feel good?

One of the things I love most about working at Create is seeing the impact the Create approach has. Spreading the word, helping others to really understand the impact rewarding positive behaviours has. The small changes parents and teachers can make to have such a huge personalised impact on every child and how Family FUNS, real PE and real gym can provide the initial support and framework to support this. After all, doesn’t every child deserve to feel good about what they do?

See below to watch Joshua’s story.

The art of growing

By Nathalie Fitzgerald, Regional Manager, London

The daughter of a gardener, I spent my life learning how to cultivate. Understanding the delicate balance of an organic environment that grows at its own pace, affected by the elements and many other factors out of our control. This is an art! It requires a huge variety of skills, understanding when to gently persuade, when to intervene and when to leave well alone!

No surprise then, that as an adult I seem to have gravitated towards nurturing and growing. I’m now on my third house and garden renovation. And now, I’ve met my match. Meet my new nemesis; the garden at Number 68.

So, skip back to autumn 2015. I had watched the garden blossom throughout the summer, with ample fruits from 7 apple trees and 2 pear trees. The trees from the woods surrounding the house full with luscious green leaves. As the cooler days of autumn set in, my new garden began to look confused, overgrown and unbalanced. The initial amazement of the abundant fruits, began toBefore turn into questions about why so many of the apples were so small. With leaves falling everywhere, covering the overgrown mass of greenery, I started to realise that this little bit of nature of mine was not as healthy as I’d first thought. It was definitely blooming, but not reaching its full potential.

My challenge was recognising what I needed to do, and when and how to do it, in order to get my London haven back to beautiful. This was not as straightforward as might be expected, with out of control fruit trees, asbestos and ground full of clay. I began to expect the unexpected. YouTube and Google have become my new best friends.

Systematically over the winter, I have pruned, cleared, chopped, and lopped; giving each small piece of the garden its own individual lease of life. Individual being the operative word here, as almost each shrub, tree, plant and element of the garden needed its own plan of action. Having never pruned a fruit tree before and being warned “cut too much and you’ll kill it”, figuring out what was required was by and large trial and error and a leap of faith, trusting that nature would be kind to my decisions.

This whole process is something I recognise across the teaching profession. Schools are full of people who are nurturers and growers, selfless givers who spend their days ensuring that children in their care reach their full potential, and develop a love for learning. But as teachers, when do we take the time to nurture and grow ourselves? In the hours I have spent in the garden, I have pondered the links between my gardening experiences and Learning Nutrition.

For those of you who are real PE practitioners, you may or may not be familiar with Learning Nutrition. It features in your IntroductioDuringn Booklets and forms part of the real PE Day 4 for Subject Leaders. Learning Nutrition is exactly what I’ve been doing in the garden for the past year. Developing and nurturing, to bring about the best possible outcome for me as a gardener and everything in my care. The only difference is that Learning Nutrition, with its simple and gradual steps, allows teachers to become successful learners at their own pace; using a simple and elegant 5 stage guide. If only the same thing existed for gardening – Alan Titchmarsh, I hope you’re reading!

Learning Nutrition helps practitioners build their confidence in the ‘how’ of teaching PE, rather than the ‘what’ we teach. Shaping understanding, behaviours, language and practice; giving teachers control over their own development, and choice of where to focus their learning. The result of using Learning Nutrition is teachers who are motivated to continuously develop good teaching habits; and learners who take responsibility for their learning, understand where they are and their next steps in their journey, a culture of excellence and very happy classrooms which flourish and grow.

Leaping into the first full summer at Number 68, I’m beginning to see the fruits of my labour and decisions. The garden is definitely less cluttered and everything that survived the garden cull looking far healthier than it did going into the winter. I’ve handed the reins back over to nature. I am carefully listening to the responses, which will help me decide the right plan of action for the year ahead, along with a little help from friendly experts I’ve chatted to along the way. I’m pretty sure I’ve made some mistakes, one or two more obvious than others; I can safely say I will only be getting fruit from 5 apple trees this year, but fingers crossed they’ll be bigger, sweeter and tastier than before.

After

The 3 Hurdles of Alignment – Part 2

By John Parsons, Director of Innovation for PE and Sport

In Part 1 of my blog (click HERE to read), I discussed the challenge of aligning beliefs and values, with what we say and what we do. I explored the ‘first hurdle’ of being really clear on what we believe and value first as this both communicates outwards and should then guide our communication and action. Unfortunately, in many cases, individuals and organisations ‘fall at the first’ by not going through the process of really establishing beliefs and values, or the ‘WHY’. In a PE and Sport context, this has led to curriculums that are sport led as opposed to child and learning led, an approach which has too frequently only catered for about 20% and a subject which does not align to the broader values of the school.

What often happens as a result of the above is that we end up valuing what we measure rather than measuring what we value. An example of this is the ‘run till you drop’ fitness testing in young children which seems to be making a comeback. Proponents of this approach will point to an increase in the fitness levels of these children to prove that it works and must therefore be introduced to every child in all schools as a way to measure their fitness and, by implication, the performance of the school. Whilst we are all concerned about children’s inactivity levels, we should be thinking long term and working to create positive relationships with physical activity for life and really thinking about the type of experience we want children to have to develop this lifelong love of being active. Just as being treated all the same, standing in queues waiting for their turn to fail will not achieve this, neither will getting all children to run until they can’t run anymore. Instead, we should be providing experiences which ensure that all children feel like they belong, can achieve and be successful, treats them as individuals and gives them a sense of ownership.

We should be communicating and measuring what we really value – children’s physical skills of course, but also their confidence to move and be active, how they cope when things get difficult, how they engage with, support and learn from others, whether they can solve problems, come up with their own ideas, evaluate their own and others’ performance to name some. Surely this is the really important stuff rather than whether they can make a chest pass, a forward roll, a flick pass etc. The win-win is that by developing the really important stuff, they develop these skills much more quickly as well, and we don’t just need to make it the main focus in a PE context! This therefore brings us to our next hurdle – aligning what we say with what we believe. How do we communicate with children, other staff and parents in a way that really aligns? Some suggestions might be:

  • What does our curriculum itself communicate? Does it talk about what the children are learning or what they are doing? Does it show sports/activities as the focus of their learning or as servants to develop their personal, social, physical, cognitive, creative, health and fitness skills?
  • What do we communicate to children via our PE displays? Does it show them that PE and Sport in this school/setting is for all children and is about a broad range of skills and abilities and not just being the best at a sport?
  • What do we tell the children the learning focus of our lessons is? Is it about sport specific outcomes or do they reflect the broader skills and abilities which we value?
  • Do we role model in the language we use, e.g. do we talk about taking a risk ourselves in the lesson? Accept responsibility when something has gone wrong/not worked in the lesson? Ask the children for their thoughts/input?
  • What do we praise? Is it always physical performance/winning or do we deliberately focus on and praise the positive behaviours we want to develop in children? Do we praise the child that drops the ball because they reacted positively and ran after it as quickly as they could? Do we praise their partner who encouraged and supported their partner when they made a mistake because that is what they agreed they would do?

So, the final hurdle is aligning what we do as well as what we say, which is not easy to do consistently as it’s easy to fall back into old habits. This is about really being deliberate and thoughtful in our planning and delivery to ensure we align our teaching methods to provide the right environment to enable children to develop these skills. I’m yet to have a teacher or coach on a course who tells me they don’t really value these broader skills and abilities; the acid test for all of us is whether we walk the talk. If we think it’s important that children learn to evaluate their own and others’ performance, do we invest proper time in it even though it’s hard by providing regular opportunities to peer coach each other? Do we plan in and support them by providing the scaffolding they need, e.g. working with them on how to give feedback; empowering them to understand what good quality/success looks like? If we value creativity in children, do we build in opportunities in every lesson from them to explore and create their own ideas and solutions? If we value problem solving and decision making, do we plan activities where things will go wrong, tell them that this will happen and then enable them to work together to fix these problems rather than going in and fixing it for them? If we value independent learners, do we allow children to work independently, do we excite them to go and try things at home/in the playground? If we value all children, do they all get a chance to succeed, e.g. through focusing on the concept of Personal Best? If we value resilience/perseverance, do we ensure that as well as success, we ensure that we stretch every child and create an environment where they not only feel safe to fail, they actively look for that challenge – just visit a skate park if you want see this type of environment in action (nearly always without a coach/teacher present).

As always, it’s easier to write about this stuff then it is to actually do it and live it. In my teaching/coaching career I got some stuff right and lots of stuff wrong. What I do passionately believe is that it is achievable and that if we can get over these 3 hurdles, it will make a massive impact on creating positive relationships with physical activity for life for all our children.

Feeling good about ourselves

By Ronnie Heath, Managing Director

My 91-year-old grandmother very recently introduced me to her new care worker. She clearly is very proud of me, but she did fail to mention that I’m the Managing Director at Create, leading a national team creating positive relationships with physical activity for life. Instead, she did the same introduction she has done for the 44 years of my life I can remember which is, “Here’s our Ronnie, he’s always regular.”

I don’t aim to trivialise this, because in the opinion of my grandmother, this really is the only significant indicator of positive health. Indeed she tells me those who suffer from irregular bowel movements know only too well it is the cause of most of the world’s problems. Poor decision making, a lack of compassion or tolerance, headaches and many physical ailments are the result of constipation according to my grandmother. Nothing can’t be solved with a gentle voluntary laxative or if necessary a covert large dose of involuntary laxative.

I was fortunate enough to watch Natasha Devon give a keynote at the start of July. She speaks passionately and clearly about the incredible impact mental health has on young people. She spoke at length about the how our body image, particularly for girls, affects our whole self and the importance of redefining what ‘strong’ means to boys, including encouraging them to ask for help and developing a willingness to talk about their worries. The thing that resonated with me most though, was the incredibly positive work we can do with all children.

We talk at lot at Create about the fact that ‘some things are simply more important than others’, referring to our deployment of scarce resources for children. However, it also applies to health. At the recent LiveWire conference in Warrington I discussed how the ‘Create Cogs’ provide a great model for a more modern understanding of the many elements that combine and work together to impact on our overall health.

I love the fact at Create, we support teachers to develop children’s personal and social skills. I’m delighted that we can influence the way that coaches speak to young children and how they can praise positive behaviours. Watching parents delight in playing, talking, engaging and learning with their children perhaps above all else reminds us why we do what we do. Ultimately, as we say in describing Learning Nutrition, we are ‘creating habits to develop positive behaviours.’

We are proud of our very deliberate whole child approach for Jasmine. Over time we have simplified our language to ‘developing thinking and emotional skills’ in addition to physical literacy. My sense is that we could go a layer further down and simply say we help children (and loads of big people) to feel good about themselves. Indeed, our delivery and approach are deliberately developed to help the teacher, the grandma, the coach, the dad, the older sister all feel good about themselves. Create has long-term cultural aims, but we directly impact on health everyday.

I think we can do even more, especially for our own staff and especially for those staff who aren’t as regular as me.

Date night revelations and the power of modelling

By Phill O’Brien, Regional Manager, North:

A window into the marital bliss and routine of Mr and Mrs O’Brien might, at first, appear unsuitable content for such a blog but allow me the benefit of the doubt. Picture the scene… A Saturday night meal in for two, Mrs O’Brien having shopped and cooked with love and attention, myself in best bib and tucker (not to mention new trainers).

A blissful evening took an unexpected turn as Mrs O’Brien’s attention unfathomably shifted from yours truly. Not just her attention but her emotion too – I lost her to a happier place. My rival for her attention? A classical piece of music (get us), chosen by my date that signified no more to me than her having a more refined taste in music than partners.

But what was it about this piece that swept her away? I felt compelled to know what mystical significance the ebb and flow of the music held for her. ‘Peter and the Wolf’, she told me, takes her back to her childhood home. Back to her childhood lounge, her dad’s hi-fi, vinyl and the last time beards were trendy. Peter and the Wolf playing loudly, dad and his girls taking on differing roles, each instrument a different animal, each animal a different movement. A family having fun was the vision she painted. Pre-Family FUNS, but still a family playing physically, bonding – forming relationships with physical activity for life.

The account was vivid, powerful, emotional and moving. Most powerful in the account however was the role that dad played, how his abandon and immersion in the play infected his daughter(s) to the extent that some 40 years later the tune could take Mrs O’B vividly back to her childhood lounge and her childhood self.

My father-in-law dared to play, to give his daughter’s permission to have fun being physical. It’s simply too reductive to imply this a major reason that Mrs O’Brien played rugby at school, went on to study PE, ended up with a sports mad partner and had two sports loving kids – isn’t it? Reductive or not, it got me thinking about the power of role models.

My role models, three volunteers at a community sports club, variously cared for me, took me places and set differing examples of what it is to be a leader. Some were quiet and inspired by example, others charismatic and they inspired by magnetism. They made it possible to imagine a lifelong love of participating in a community of sport.

I have a theory that all of us in the sport and PE industry have a role model story to tell. I indulge myself regularly by asking people to tell me their role model story. I really love to hear those stories – I consider it a privilege. I hear of teachers, parents, community coaches and celebrity sports people – how they all play their part.

I close however thinking of what kind of a role model I am. I suspect in many ways a good deal of our legacy is invested in this question; do I show what is needed to motivate, inspire and energise the next generation to dance to Peter and the Wolf?

GOLD DUST – Playing with your kids

By Pam Stevenson, Director of Delivery

This blog is Part 3 of 3 of my self-exploration of how my personal experiences have contributed to my thoughts, beliefs, passions and philosophy about PE and school sport – if you’ve missed my earlier entries, click here for Part 1 and here for Part 2.

I suppose it’s not surprising that when I had kids pretty late in life that they should grow up on a diet of play, play, play. It was certainly worth holding out to have kids with literally the “best dad ever”.

I had hit that ‘clock ticking’ time in my life and if my past partners were anything to go by, I hadn’t met anyone who I wanted to have kids with. So, I opened a “baby account” and put it out there (the hippy in me speaking again)!

When I finally (and I mean finally) had kids with my present partner, Pete, we were both completely ready and we just had more little people around to play with.

Before Natty, my first child, could walk he could play balloon tennis, had been sandwiched up in carpets and whipped out along the floor at a high speed. He thought he could fly since he had been thrown skyward so many times and nappy change involved being bounced high up in the air on the bed.

We hadn’t at this point worked out that we were laying down foundations for him to become an elite sportsman, but by the time he was three, he had physical confidence and control coupled with a hunger and fearlessness. In some ways this was exaggerated even more for my second child whom had an even more cutthroat physical initiation with input from her three year old brother – which at times was pretty hairy.

Our decision as a family to take six months out to go traveling meant that we upped the ante and surfed, swam, ran, played, skateboarded and did a lot or sword fighting 24/7. The children were two and five years old.

I remember a conversation with Nat’s reception teacher who was concerned that he would “fall behind” with his schoolwork. There have been many times in my life when I have believed the lunatics had taken over the asylum and that was one of them!

My kids experienced seven different cultures; they played with different children, but most importantly they were taken out of their comfort zone and routine and were faced with new challenges every day. They built incredible coping strategies for how to join a group of kids playing. They made up their own games and Nat especially learned the importance of keeping going till the skill was cracked, conquering surfing in Hawaii aged five after hours of falling off.

Return to the normal world was bizarre and sometimes painful but instead of “falling behind” they both had gained the skills and abilities that create independent, resourceful and resilient children and needless to say Nat “caught up” on his schoolwork. Again, as with so many of the philosophies of Create, the name “Multi Abilities” only became familiar to me at a later time.

Six months non-stop swimming and sword fighting round the world had also created two children with exceptional physical skills and they both played for countless teams in countless sports – this part of our life was equally wonderful and excruciating. My children had the privilege of being coached by some incredible coaches. (It’s no surprise that one of the best coaches I came across now works as a Regional Manager for Create!)

It is difficult to be critical of a voluntary coach, especially when they are giving up their time to work with my child, but I have witnessed my own and other children literally have the joy and stuffing knocked out of them for short term, ‘perceived team benefits’. This was accentuated when dealing with paid, professional coaches who often seemed to be short sighted and completely lacking in empathy.

The expectations of parents to support their children on sporting pathways just seem to replicate traditional Physical Education. It’s only for the chosen few. If you have disposable income, a spare parent to drive you up to three hours for a game and a degree in detective work – your child can follow the sporting pathway.

There seemed to be, in lots of sporting clubs and county squads, a complete lack of kindness and empathy for how children felt and a complete lack of transparency. Simply, the sport and winning were at the heart and not the individual children.

However excruciating, sport was still an amazing vehicle to orientate my kids through the difficult teens. It got them off the couch, away from screens and away from the other teenage temptations that sadly some of their friends have succumbed to. It has given both Pete and I an incredibly powerful tool to communicate with our children and the hours driving both of them to training and games were some of the loveliest and in-depth conversations. Something to do with them being strapped in.

Every time I play cricket in the kitchen with my 6”3’ son or climb over the fence to kick a rugby ball on the local field I want to bottle it and I treasure these hours and hours as they draw to a close. I am saddened by family houses that are more concerned with replicating an Ikea showroom than providing a playful environment for their children. If only they knew what they were missing out on.

So, we seem to be hitting a time in history when playing with your kids is becoming less and less common, diminishing day by day. Pete and I often drive out to Hale to walk the dog and we pass miles of green spaces in front of a Speke housing estate and we don’t see children playing out. Children are least active at evenings and weekends and have unlimited access to sedentary games and disgusting food.

But the solution is not as straightforward as it was for the traditional PE curriculum that just wasn’t fit for purpose for the majority of teachers or children.

EVERY parent has the chance to play with their kids, whether its hide and seek in the house, off the ground tig in the playground or skipping on the pavement. We seem to be experiencing a “perfect storm” where a whole host of factors have come together to produce a generation of families that no longer want to or seem the need to play together.

When I interviewed a mum following her attendance at a Family FUNS club she simply said, “I didn’t know you had to play with your kids. Now I do its easy”.

How to interview Olympians

Listen to the fantastic radio interview that took place at Lings Primary School’s own radio station after the real gym National Launch.

Pupils at the school got the chance to interview Olympian, Lynne Hutchison and Olympic Rhythmic Gymnastic Coach, Sarah Moon and asked lots of great questions about gymnastics, the Olympics and more.

Click here to listen to the amazing interview.

What great questions! Well done to the children at Lings Primary School.

Sarah and Lynne Sarah and Lynne 2

Photographs courtesy of Lings Primary School

What do schools think of real gym?

As we continue to celebrate the official real gym National Launch we’d like to share blogs from North Town Primary School, Taunton and Abington Vale Primary School, Northampton and their experiences of real gym.

Click here to hear pupil feedback after Abington Vale Primary School’s first real gym lesson.

Click here to read about the launch of the real gym programme in North Town Primary School this spring.

It’s so great to hear that the pupils and teachers are enjoying gymnastic activities!

 

 

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’!

Finding A Love For Physical Activity

By Molly Heath, Marketing Assistant

Working for Create, I never cease to be amazed by the enthusiasm that those around me have for physical activity; quite literally, it is what gets them up in the morning, motivated by the impact that they know it can have and a constant love of being energetic. More often than not, they’re people that have loved physical activity their entire lives, and want to ensure that more young people leave education with this same fantastic relationship. For over a year, I’ve tried to blend in with them, tried to pretend that I too have this life-long love for sport, but now, it’s time I come clean with my co-workers. There’s something I need to confess. I, Molly Heath, hated PE.

I wouldn’t say that my overall experience of PE and Sport was entirely negative; I had some high points, some lessons where I had fun with my friends, I occasionally participated in inter-house sports competitions. Albeit, this was usually because no-one else would, but I stand proudly by my 5th place in the high jump (the person who came 6th didn’t show up). I started secondary school with some enthusiasm for PE too. Sure, I was never considered good at PE in primary school, so didn’t try my hardest, but in light of this, I wanted to be more active now that I was older. I resolved that I was going to go to hockey practice – it was a sport I’d not really tried before, and it looked fun. I had my first in-class lesson, which was difficult, and I struggled slightly, but I wasn’t demoralised. What did put me off was when we were back in the changing rooms and the teacher called out a list of girls’ names to come and speak to her, and I overheard her tell those girls that they were the ones she wanted to come to practice. I never went. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I wasn’t wanted, that I wasn’t good enough at PE for it to be my ‘thing’.

My enthusiasm for PE lessened the longer I was in school; from that point onwards, I was in a process of ear-marking myself as the girl who wasn’t good at sport, that it wasn’t what I did. I was good at words and books and PE was just an irritating interruption to my day. And my experience only reinforced this. I was sick of being chastised by the overly competitive girls who made me feel like I was doing wrong by them by not being able to hit a rounders ball. I was sick of being told I wasn’t good enough if I did try and put myself forward. I was sick of the annual embarrassment of the ‘Bleep Test’, which was not used as a tool by which we could measure our fitness and motivate ourselves to get better, but was simply a lazy first lesson. Worse, the girls and boys were regularly made to run it in front of each other. In Year 11, my final year, I dropped out at 2.9; I wasn’t going to get hot and sweaty in my third lesson of the day, and at least if I went out pathetically early, it would look as if I didn’t care rather than have to openly admit how unfit I was. When choosing sports to do, I wasn’t encouraged to challenge myself in any way, nor did I want to. I picked what was easiest, what my friends were taking, and would put myself (if I wasn’t already put there by a teacher) in the lowest ability group so that the hour would go as quick as it could.

Leaving PE behind at school was a relief. But two years later, something changed. In the terrifying loom of my approaching A-Levels, I found myself stressed. Looking for a way to deal with this, I decided to join the gym, in the hope that it might reduce my stress or be a way for me to take my mind off what I regarded as my inevitable failure and the end of my life. I was initially apprehensive, in full knowledge that my fitness levels have never been great, and sure that even if I did convince myself to go regularly, it’d be a chore. Yet out of the blue, I loved it. There was something great about being able to go at my own pace, to be able to feel like I had ownership over my progress and to be able to challenge myself. I was also lucky enough to have a friend go to the gym with me. She was much better than I was, but the advantage was that where I failed to push myself, she would encourage me to keep going, rather than make me feel rubbish for it.

The difference that I put this down to? The exercise was for me. It was not to please a teacher, not because I had to be there, not to try and stop some over-competitive girl from shouting at me. Exercise wasn’t a punishment, not a chore, but it was fun, not least because I loved feeling that my body was getting stronger and that my mental well-being was improved too.

Now, I come to the point-making part of my self-indulgent exploration. Why did it take a bout of courage at 18 for me to discover that physical activity was something that I enjoyed and that had an overwhelmingly positive impact on my life? Where were the processes when I was younger that would make me feel included, like PE was a safe and fun place where I could challenge myself? Why was I left to feel as though sport wasn’t ‘for me’?

This is clearly an issue that spans all groups, but it seems as though my experience is particularly pertinent in young girls. The relationships that young women have with their bodies are frequently awful, and a negative relationship with physical activity only enhances this. Younger girls often feel put off by sport at break times, feeling that the running around is just ‘for boys’. At secondary school age, feeling bullied in lessons by the girls who were good at sport has a negative effect on your self-esteem and your willingness to participate. This doesn’t diminish the older you get, as adverts for fitness regimes and wear are filled with the impossible standards that the pressure is constantly on women to reach. The statistics only prove this; in 2012, 70% of adult women said they felt pressure from television and magazines to have a ‘perfect’ body. The ‘This Girl Can’ campaign did fantastic work in addressing this issue; taglines such as ‘sweating like a pig, feeling like a fox’ and ‘I jiggle therefore I am’ reminded us as women that everyone has those insecurities, and that we can use them instead to feel fabulous whilst we get active.

But this should be addressed earlier. Young girls, and indeed boys, should have the opportunity to realise the importance that sport has for their physical and mental wellbeing, viewing keeping active as fun and an opportunity for personal challenge from a young age. Where girls so often not only drop out of physical activity in their teens, but develop issues with body confidence and self-esteem, it is critically important that we create the positive relationships as early as we can. This way, we can ensure that these relationships last for life.

I, Molly Heath, love physical activity. But I should have known this sooner.

The 3 Hurdles of Alignment: Part 1

By John Parsons, Director of Innovation for PE and Sport

I read a book some time back called ‘The Magic Weaving Business’ by Sir John Jones. Essentially it is about the power of teaching and the life-changing influence teachers can have (positively and negatively) on young people. If you haven’t read it, I’d recommend it to anyone involved in education (by this I don’t just mean teachers and schools).

I had many ‘light bulb’ moments when reading the book, but the one that stuck with me most was where Jones discusses the importance and challenge of aligning what you believe and value, with what you say and what you do. It sounds simple, obvious and downright common sense doesn’t it? But it’s often the simplest things that we miss or aren’t as simple as we think and common sense, as the saying often goes, isn’t that common! I frequently look back and think of how often there was a disconnect between what I thought I believed in and my actual practice when working with young people. I suppose this was part of my learning journey but I can’t help thinking that it would have been beneficial for the young people I was working with if this had been something that I’d been more aware of earlier, hence why we explore it on Day 1 of our real PE programme. Jones, to give context to the concept, gives numerous examples of where he has experienced a clear disconnect between what institutions say they believe and value and what they actually say and do in practice. I now find myself continually referring back to this alignment challenge both when visiting schools and in terms of my own practice.

So, the first hurdle, is to be really clear on what we believe and value and communicate this in as simple a way as possible. Sounds easy but many can and do ‘fall at the first’. I once sat in a meeting at a community club where I was told that the club could not have a shared philosophy as there were different managers involved who had their own philosophies. I responded that we are therefore no longer a club, but a collection of autonomous teams and therefore should say as much, otherwise how could parents and children make a decision as to whether the ‘club’ had a philosophy and values that was right for them? Similarly, I’ve worked with some schools who are very clear on their values and beliefs – they are often the first thing you see when you arrive in reception and say all the things you’d want a school to be about – but, perhaps, don’t see how PE and Sport fits into this ‘bigger picture’ and align to these beliefs and values. As a consequence, curriculums are often ‘sport led’ because of tradition, rather than ‘child and learning led’ (I’ll explore this more in Part 2), often because of a belief that ‘this is what we have to do isn’t it?’ As a consequence, PE and Sport has often been delivered in a way that is not always inclusive and often not personalised. In some schools, I have read how essential physical activity and development is to the development of every child within the school, yet PE is postponed during the months of November and December or missing PE is used as a way to manage poor behaviour.

As part of the real PE programme, we go back to basics and ask those attending why we do PE, why it’s important and what we are trying to achieve. The language may vary but the answers are consistent – to encourage and enable lifelong participation (which can lead to health and wellbeing benefits); to help young people maximise their potential and be the best they can be; to develop a range of life and learning skills that can also support whole school aims.

Having established why we do PE and what we’re trying to achieve, we can then look at what skills and abilities we need to develop in our children and young people to achieve these outcomes. When we explore this with teachers, coaches and others there is an overwhelming consensus as to what is most important. Nobody talks about sport specific skills as being the most important, but instead developing a broad range of skills and abilities, with personal, social and emotional abilities particularly important, things like confidence, self-esteem, determination, resilience, communication and the ability to work with and learn from others to name a few.

Without going through this process of really establishing what we believe and value first, we are in danger of then valuing what we measure rather than measuring what we value. I once worked for an organisation where the perceived key measure (or KPI as it was called) was the number of people worked with, with little or no reference to the quality of the support and the impact it made on these people. Because this was the measure, numbers became the key currency and a race to work with as many people as possible began, with the quality of the interaction and the impact it had of secondary importance. It really is worth taking the time to do this properly, as it should then influence everything else – your curriculum and broader offer, your teaching and learning methods, your assessment or in other words, what you say and what you do…

Part 2 will look at the challenges and importance of aligning what we say and what we do with what we believe and value (or hurdles 2 and 3!)

A risky business

By Cathy Brown, Regional Manger, Midlands

I am the proud mum of Joshua (5 years old) and Alice (3 years old) and for my first blog, and others to follow, I’m going to reflect on the amazing experiences parenthood brings and apply my personal learning to the core principals which drive the work we do at Create.

Firstly, I’ll set the scene: it’s Halloween and I’m taking Joshua and Alice to a Halloween party at a large soft play area. All three of us have picked out our costumes, we have had fun getting ready and we’re off. On arriving at the party, there is a queue of parents with their children waiting for the doors to open. I am mortified when I realise that I can’t see any other adult dressed up. This leaves me with a dilemma; do I keep my costume on and risk the perceived embarrassment of being the only adult in fancy dress?

The dilemma I faced, and what happened next really made me reflect. What would life be like if we didn’t take risks? Is our life truly enriched by us having the confidence and courage to take a chance, to try something new, by putting ourselves out of our comfort zone?

This is something that we do everyday at Create: we form new local partnerships, we challenge partners to try a new approach. We ask teachers, Headteachers and practitioners to have the confidence and courage to try something new, to dare to change the way they deliver PE.

Through Family FUNS we are now extending that challenge into the home environment by nurturing, supporting and inspiring families to change how they play and learn together.

Create’s vision is to redefine what’s possible for PE, Sport and physical activity by creating positive relationships with physical activity for life. We are asking partners, practitioners and families to come on that journey with us, to make small changes in order to develop new positive habits. For a few, this is exciting: they are ready. Others are a little more hesitant wherever there is change there is a perceived risk.

Going back to the Halloween party, I’m still in the car considering my options: take off my costume and blend into the party whilst almost certainly seeing the little sparkle leave Josh and Alice’s eyes, or do I just go for it and ‘inflate’ my costume?

I make my choice and I hit the inflate button. It takes 30 seconds for my giant inflatable pumpkin to be in its full glory, I take a deep breath and I walk across the car park to the queue. I’m feeling nervous. How will people respond to me, have I done the right thing? As I get closer, people start to look at me, lots of them – did I make the right choice?

The first person, someone I don’t know, smiles at me and asks “Did you drive here like that? I guess you didn’t need an air bag!” I feel more at ease. Other people I don’t know are chatting to me. I quite like it now. I have been accepted into the party with a full embrace. As I begin to feel more confident, my friend takes a photo which is later posted on a social networking site. To my astonishment my photo receives nearly 23,500 likes and over 600 positive comments. Friends I hadn’t seen for a number of years were re-connecting with me having seen the photo. I had been given the name ‘Pumpkin Mum’ and there is even a suggestion I should run for Prime Minister!

For me being ‘Pumpkin Mum’ was a truly enriching experience. I spoke with new people, I re-connected with old friends, I have an amazing story to share but most importantly for me, Joshua and Alice still talk about ‘Pumpkin Mum’, so I know it enriched their experience.

Mark Zuckerberg was famously quoted as saying “The biggest risk is not taking a risk… You are better off trying something and having it not work and learning from that than not doing anything at all.” When I look back to the times in my life where I have grown as a person and had experiences from which I have learnt, these are the times I look back on most fondly, the memories that have stuck and the experiences I love to share. One thing they all have in common: I took a perceived risk.

Will you be a ‘Pumpkin Mum’?

Pumpkin Mum facebook

 

Why do we need real gym?

By Sarah Moon, real gym National Lead

I get asked this question a lot: “Why do we need real gym? What’s different about it? We have ‘X’ scheme or cards already…” I’ll tell you what’s different.

Let me start from the beginning…
I had a mixed ‘upbringing’ in PE and Sport. I loved PE at primary school – I think I was encouraged, and I certainly loved gym and dance outside of school.

However, when I got to secondary school, suddenly my PE experience become very different. I didn’t fit!
I wasn’t a team player, so I didn’t make the squads, and wasn’t encouraged to do so. There wasn’t a gym club as such; I remember I did once get identified as being ‘gifted and talented’ in gym (surprise surprise – I went to 15 hours’ gym out of school, so that wasn’t a shock!) however, nothing ever happened. I was identified, and thought, “YES something for me now! Now I will be seen as ‘special’ by the PE teachers and be in the ‘gang’…” but nothing ever happened with it. So I was left out – again!

No one ever identified for me that the same run, jump, land on one foot, catch a ball and pass it on to a partner was the same in rhythmic gymnastics (my sport) as it was in netball… So I didn’t feel I could play netball, and then even when we did gym in school, I was then good and got picked on by the cool kids for being good at it.

Sometimes I wonder why I am working in sport, and then I remember: TO GIVE ALL KIDS A BETTER EXPERIENCE THAN THIS. I am passionate about giving all children the ability to succeed in PE and school sport, whether this be physically to succeed or via the multi-abilities approach.

Woodhill School-37

So with Create Development, real gym was born!

A unique approach that has something for every child to be successful, enabling every child to stretch themselves, whatever this may mean to them.

I know that gymnastics splits a class. You have those whizzy children that can and therefore do, and in the very same class you have the children who are very reluctant even to join in.

My view is that primary teachers are best placed to engage, enable and enrich the experience of gym at school for ALL of these children. They have the ability to find the ‘hook’ for each child. It might be that a child is physically able but doesn’t understand about sharing with a partner – therefore, focus on social skills and encourage and reward this aspect. A teacher who recently attended the real gym Early Years Foundation Stage and Key Stage One course was sat for most of the morning, arms and legs crossed, whilst I was thinking about how I’d get through to her. However, we did the first practical lesson, ‘The Jungle Trip’, and she relaxed and was in. Her hook was linking PE (gym) to performing arts; she obviously felt calm and comfortable with drama/expression and as soon as we were playing a role, it suddenly wasn’t frightening gymnastics, but just animals in the jungle. That was it. She was hooked, and took a positive and active role throughout the rest of the course.

Woodhill School-116

This is our job as practitioners: to deliver an engaging, enabling and enriching experience for ALL of the children we work with, through whichever method we can achieve these aims.

So what about the ‘gymnasts’ in your class? Many gymnasts are seen as creative, as they perform routines, but 9/10 times (probably more) the coaches at the gym club have told them EXACTLY what to do. They are able to practice and remember a routine, and that’s it.

So give them a chance to be creative and explore the skills that they can use in other ways.

Maybe a reluctant child has very good understanding, so can work cognitively in the lesson, understanding the concepts of creating a sequence and what needs to be included in the routine, or perhaps by coaching others, giving them the success criteria and learning points. Perhaps the quiet child can be the one who gives the reward stickers to others for persevering with a task, or perhaps use the tablet to record sequences to review later.

Woodhill School-460

Gymnastics doesn’t have to be a boring, repetitive task; once we have learnt the skills, we can use them, play with them in interesting ways to keep the children engaged and having fun in the lesson, whilst also building in the necessary repetitions for them to improve and master a skill.

A good example of these is Dice Frenzy, a real PE game that we have ‘gym-ified’. Played in a team, you have to make a shape (previous skill learning), on a certain number of body parts (as dictated by the dice). For example a star on two body parts, a straight on three body parts, a tuck on one body part etc. The winners are the team who manage to cross off all the dice numbers the quickest.

Through this activity the children repeat their shapes, exploring them in different ways, holding the shapes whilst their team cross off the number. However they also work on many other essential skills: social (in a team), personal (listening and sharing ideas), cognitive (understanding the shape) and creative (exploring and making in different ways).

Woodhill School-36

The whole concept of real gym is just this, using gymnastics to develop the whole child, whilst learning gymnastic skills and having FUN with gymnastics!

Give Dice Frenzy a go, and see how the children react to it. If you like it book on a real gym course! We are passionate about giving more children a fantastic opportunity to develop through gymnastics, and the ability to succeed and to be valued in their lessons.

A vehicle for ALL kids to have fun & feel good

By Pam Stevenson, Director of Delivery

After two years of teaching PE at Deeside High School I was becoming increasingly interested in Southern African politics; at the time, Nelson Mandela was incarcerated and the book ‘Black Beauty’ was banned there. So, in a rash moment I sent off my CV to a school in Swaziland that had a reputation for radical racial politics and found myself very quickly after that on a plane to teach girls’ PE!

I think there is a wake-up call in everyone’s life and this was mine for sure. The school had educated many of the African National Congress (ANC) leadership’s children and was a beacon of multi-racial education, but unfortunately its gender politics were archaic.

My first battle was when the girls weren’t allowed to opt for football on a Wednesday afternoon. The arguments were around safety and how the boys could practice effectively. I was to hear a lot more of this kind of thing when I began delivering inclusion training to mainstream PE teachers. Disabled children in a mainstream PE class! How will they play rugby? What will the impact be on the other children?

“Disabled children in a mainstream PE class! How will they play rugby? What will the impact be on the other children?”

As my battles grew more heated I left teaching to set up a voluntary project in Swaziland, working with disabled children and adults through sport. This was a complete change in direction for me and was my career path for the next 20 years. I was privileged to be able to experience such a wide and varied work programme and spent the next two years working in a school for the deaf, a school for children with learning disabilities and a mainstream school with lots of disabled children. I look back on these times with a mixture of pride that I had survived, regret that I wasn’t able to do more and knowledge that I was extremely lucky and honoured to have had such a life changing experience.

I remember pondering for hours whether it was a good thing for a child, who lived on the floor of the hospital, to have an hour in the hot baths, lots of cuddles and attention to then be returned to the hospital or whether this was cruel because it flaunted a life that was so far away from the one they were living. I ended up believing that a snippet of real pleasure was like food, a necessity in life and sport and physical activity could provide this.

“I ended up believing that a snippet of real pleasure was like food, a necessity in life and sport and physical activity could provide this.”

I returned from three years working in Swaziland with an eclectic mix of skills having had a chance to work with a massive variety of differently disabled people in a huge mix of sports. Arriving back in England I applied for a job, ‘Lecturer in Equal Opportunities in Sport and Leisure’ at a Further Education college and having returned from working with black, disabled women, I got the job!

I spent the next 20 years building up an inclusive department by employing disabled lecturers, embedding disability sport into most programmes and developing some specialist courses. In parallel I began to work nationally in the world of sport and inclusion. I initially immersed myself in all the inclusion courses out there and soon developed a nervous tic when anyone brought out a parachute or included throwing beanbags into buckets. Surely there was more to PE for disabled children than this?

These experiences did shape the next 20 years for me. During a weekly session, with sometimes 50 disabled adults and carers, I explored and created new and different games that were exciting, ruthless and sometimes highly competitive. Lots of which resurfaced a year later in the healthy competition aspect of Create Developments real PE.

I may have gone too far with ‘Tunnel of Death’ which involved running the gauntlet while everyone else hurled sponge balls, balloons and beach balls at you from close up. The challenge always was, “How can we adjust and adapt the environment so winning and losing isn’t dependent on physical skill alone?” This way, our winners can learn to lose and everyone else can feel the thrill of the win!

In parallel to my lecturing job I was beginning to be asked to train teachers in special and mainstream schools based on a philosophy that was to become known as, ‘The Inclusion Spectrum’. This approach gave deliverers of PE, sport and physical activity a framework to balance the individual needs of people in a group. At the time, it was a survival technique because I had so many different people within my own session. My collaborations with the lovely Ken Black who had been working on and developing ‘The Inclusion Spectrum’ resulted in the publication of the English Federation of Disability Sport training course, ‘Including Disabled Children In Mainstream PE’.

“This approach gave deliverers of PE, sport and physical activity a framework to balance the individual needs of people in a group”

While we were writing the course, Gerry Kinsella, a good friend and CEO of the Greenbank Project, suggested I deliver a workshop to highlight people’s perceptions about disabled children. Delegates were asked either, “What are the challenges of including a disabled child in a mainstream PE class?” or “What are the challenges of including a non-disabled child in a special school PE class?”

After years of delivering this workshop to teachers, students, disabled and non-disabled people the outcomes were always the same. When thinking about the disabled child everyone highlighted the institutional challenges – safety and equipment, how the disabled child would take part in traditional activities, how the class would be stretched and affected and the knowledge of the teacher. But when considering the needs of the non-disabled child everyone switched focus and highlighted the effect on the non-disabled child; how would they be stretched and challenged? How would they access appropriate sports outside of school? Could they be a leader? Would the activities be suitable for the child?

Of course both sets of challenges apply to both scenarios but I never tired of watching the light bulb moment when PE teachers realised that the disabled child in their class might need challenging and supporting with pathways in their chosen sport. It was another leap, that only a few were willing to make immediately, to considering whether the curriculum should include the children in the class or be bound by traditional sports because it always had been.

My passion for PE to provide a vehicle for all children to have fun, feel good, valued, supported and challenged has only very recently found a home. When I began working with my good friends and colleagues at Create Development we began to translate our passion and vision into a real and tangible support package for teachers that stayed true to this vision…real PE.

“…PE to provide a vehicle for all children to have fun, feel good, valued, supported and challenged…”

 

Challenging myself to dance – panic!

By Phil Wylie, National Lead: Family FUNS

During our company retreat in November 2014 we attended a dance class at the end of a long day of meetings. The idea was to get a bit of exercise, clear our heads and do a bit of team bonding. The dance teacher was lovely and very welcoming to the eight Creators who descended on her quiet little class!

Always keen for a challenge I was happy to have a go, knowing that dancing was something I find really difficult. I’m great moving forwards at speed (cycling and running) but changing direction, speed, levels and coordinating my hands and feet at the same time or to a beat is a major challenge! At school I found learning difficult in most subjects but I always got where I needed to be in the end with some independent thinking time away from lessons and lots of hard work. I found I needed longer than others to understand questions, problems and come up with answers whilst my classmates waded in with their own thoughts as I was still thinking. I scraped through my GCSE Maths, Science and English.

So when the dancing started I was fine with the first few steps and practicing on my own without any music. I felt I was getting it… Almost a smile on my face! Then the music came on, some movement in different directions, followed quickly by some arm movements, another step and then a change of pace. Give me a break! At regular intervals our teacher asked “Are you ready for the next bit?” At one point I actually said out loud (jokingly) “No! Definitely not!” but I knew this was more of a swim or sink class and not real PE. I was lost, still thinking about 1,2,3 left foot forwards right foot forwards and back. I tried to watch others and copy, even taking time out to think but there was too much going on.

After 30 minutes of trying to keep up and falling further behind I paused for a few moments. I genuinely thought, “What’s the point?” The lesson was happening around me as if I wasn’t there. I was bored by then and a bit frustrated mainly because of the pace of the progressions and the distractions of music and the movement of people around me. I was too far behind to catch up now and there was only a short time left. It was the first time I could remember feeling like this for a long time and a great reminder of the impact of how we introduce and develop challenges and skills. Were these the feelings and responses of someone in the early stages of panic?

Ultimately, I knew I could master the dance but I needed some quiet space, some time to practice and master some basic steps on my own and/or some smaller more manageable progressions. I wasn’t going to get that in this mass participation class so not wanting to appear as though I wasn’t trying I joined in and had a go when I could and watched others when I got lost until it was over. It was a case of getting through it.

My conclusion? I had just experienced a traditional sport/PE/games lesson and I didn’t enjoy it. I knew that and could accept it and fortunately this wasn’t shaping my view of myself, dance or even PE. However, I did consider how many young people would have the mindset to overcome this experience, particularly if repeated over and over again.

When the Create Personal Challenge was announced it didn’t take long for me to come up with my own. I was getting married in December and it’s traditional to do a first dance. Keira and I have been to several weddings over the last two years and watched a lot of awkward swaying from side-to-side when the first dance is announced for the unfortunate couple. Very little reflection was needed by me on this occasion! I find dancing challenging but fun and Keira was keen to learn a ballroom dance for our wedding. Interestingly, we were both also looking for a hobby/something we could do together in our own time.

Create Personal Challenge? Learn a dance for our wedding (short-medium term) with a view to a hobby we could continue and enjoy together (long term).

Keep your eyes peeled to find out how Phil’s challenge went in the next installment of his blog. To read more about the Create Personal Challenge and find out how Jan Parker used it as an opportunity to take on the Manchester to Blackpool bike race, click here.

Risks… from a red paper clip to a house!

By Sarah Moon, real gym National Lead

I heard a story about a man in Canada who traded up to a house, starting with a red paper clip. He wasn’t happy with this and wanted a more interesting item, so he first traded it for a novelty fish pen, then to a doorknob and a camping stove. Before long he was trading roles in films, rent for a year and finally a house! And it all started with a red paper clip.

This got me thinking about my journey through sport and coaching, and the risks I’ve taken, how they accumulate to such a point that they sound ridiculous, but when they are only a small jump from the previous ‘trade’… somehow they don’t quite seem so BIG. For me, it began with wanting to go to gym club because my best friend went to gym. My mum (I’m not from a ‘sporty’ family at all) said “Why do you want to that?” then took a risk and said “OK”. So the first risk was taken by my parents, just by allowing me to go to gym club, spending money on the classes and of course the leotard (although mum did iron it – school boy error. I wasn’t allowed another ‘in case I didn’t stick to it’, so went to gym with an iron mark on my tummy for about 6 months!)

Trampoline
The next risk, again by my mum, came when we moved to Somerset, and the ‘normal gym’ club was full, and she took me to ‘rhythmic’ instead. I cried, as I didn’t want to stay for my first session. She said “I’ve paid the £2 fee so you’re staying”. My mum, no doubt at the time, felt awful leaving me there, but she risked it, as she knew it could be the sport for me and the risk paid off. I LOVED IT!

After that the risk taking escalated, and fast. “Will she do a competition?” Yes – I got a silver!. “Will she trial for Regional Squad?” Yes – it’s in Exeter. OK, another risk. Dad drove me to Exeter, more money, more time, more commitment. But again, I succeeded and enjoyed it. And indeed, became Regional Champion for 10 years or so.

Then I met two coaches, a mother and daughter who changed the trajectory I was on. Margaret and Lisa Higgins. They asked “Will you come up to Birmingham and train with us?” Another risk – I said yes. So every Sunday morning dad and I took a trip to Birmingham. My dad did this without question, without moaning, without a guilt trip of how much it was costing us as a family emotionally and financially. He got up at 6.30am, drove me to start training at 9am, waited around for me, finished at about 1.30pm, and drove back to Somerset. We did this every week. As an adult now, I can’t believe they did this for me. A huge risk!
Pic 2
It paid off again; I improved, and made it to the British Championships. I made the finals, I was happy. And now that my eyes were open to the possibilities that were there, I wanted a place in the Great Britain squad. I was always right on the edge, right on the boundary between ‘the squad girls’ and ‘the others’.
After changing gym club again, many more hours in the car, and a whole load of other adventures, tears and injuries, I reached 16 years old and gained a place in a ballet company in Bristol (I danced to help my gymnastic development), but the commitment was huge. So I had to take a decision: gym or ballet?
This one decision has probably shaped the rest of my life, but at the time I didn’t realise the potential impact. What were the risks involved? What was the choice? I chose gym! So then the risks escalated again, step-by-step speeding up along the way.

At 17/18 years old, I realised I wouldn’t make the British squad, so I would retire from competitive gymnastics. The journey was over – or not? I was already coaching and had won medals, including national titles with the little girls I had been coaching. So the next step: to coach more.

I had a chance at 19 years old to become Head Coach in Bath, another risk as I just was starting university, but I knew I could do this. So, I took the risk and went for it. There were teething problems, as with any change, but over the years the club grew stronger and the achievements got bigger and greater, until in the same year we had the British Junior Champion and the British Senior Champion! The hard work had paid off- again!

A few years, national squad gymnasts and trips with GBR to Bulgaria, France, Spain, and Germany later, the Olympics are coming to London. We have a chance for a group to take part.
Do we do it? Do we risk it all? There were no guarantees. No funding, no payments, no backing, no one could say for sure what would happen, day-to-day, let alone in 18 months’ time.
Gymnasts, families and coaches came together and after a start with group training in 2009-10 with another Coach, now in 2011 the group had to refocus. Could this really happen, an Olympic place? So the gymnasts took a risk, a year out from school, moved to Bath to live together, and trained.
But what about meOlympics? I took a massive risk as well. Moved from my hometown, to rent a tiny studio flat, left my job, and now was being paid under the minimum wage, taking huge stress, just to help these girls go to the Olympic Games.

You see the risk has accumulated and increased. But in a nutshell the risk was worth it, to coach at an Olympic Games! What an amazing experience, and it all started with a little girl who wanted to go to gym to be with her friend. Trading up has never meant more!

It just goes to show, start with a small risk, and see where the road takes you.

Vikki Roberts’ Create personal challenge

At the start of 2015, the staff at Create Development were asked to consider an exciting, personal challenge and to explore what personal and professional learning they might gain from the experience. It had to be something that they really wanted to do, may have already planned to do and it had to be outside our traditional skill set or really difficult for us to achieve. We’re sharing a selection of blogs documenting some of our successful and still progressing challenges, as we watch our team redefine what’s possible for themselves.

Last time we heard from Lesley Doughty about the ways that she’s been making small adjustments to make a big difference to her life – click here to read the article if you missed it. This time, we have a post from Vikki Roberts about her challenge to grow her own fruit and vegetables!

The Roberts family garden
When given the opportunity to challenge myself and embark upon something new, my brain was buzzing with possible opportunities, most of them physical and involving competition – due to health complications at present and imminent vikki garden 2surgery, I decided after much deliberation that growing our own fruit and vegetables would be fun, challenging and rewarding!

How I am going to do it?
I have already undertaken quite a lot of research and realised that growing fruit and vegetables isn’t as easy as it may seem; with so many different varieties of this and that, which soil, fertiliser to use etc. I have booked myself onto a beginner’s day course and bought a greenhouse. I am also volunteering once a month at a friend’s market garden learning how to look after the crops and helping her with her small business.
The greenhouse is not yet up, but I have managed to grow (with the help of my two little ones’ watering expertise) some seedlings to plant out soon. We have two planters in situ and I am pestering for a third but just need to clear a space.

The reasons I chose gardening/growing:
1. To improve my family’s health. I thought that if the children had helped to grow the fruit and vegetables they maybe more vikki diary 2inclined to eat it?!
2. Family fun. Spending quality time with the children outside and educating them.
3. Saving money on grocery shopping.
4. Reducing our environmental impact.

I have also been keeping a diary complete with photographs to show my evidence!

The power of fun

By Leigh Wolmarans, Headteacher of Lings Primary School, the first national Create Learning School

To sound highly intelligent I am going to quote Albert Einstein and say that ‘Play is the highest form of research’. I am then going to show my real mental capacity by saying that I have built my life based on this single principle but only found the quote last week!

As a Headteacher you have this enviable ‘power’ to design, create and collaborate on building a school that plays. You obviously have to face the firing squad when this theory goes horribly wrong, or you allow power to corrupt your key principles, but I can honestly say that I have yet to hear the shots ring out! This concept of playing is at its strongest in physical activity, I avoid using the word sport and I will tell you why – Speedos!

 

I went to school in South Africa where sport was the driving force in many of the things we did and we were constantly confronted by it. This suited me because I actually love sport and could have easily spent my whole secondary school career on a rugby pitch without a single word of complaint. It didn’t suit everyone though and only now, when I have become more reflective, do I see the pain and frustration it must have caused many. It was used effortlessly as a way of berating some; making others gods and making people feel inferior. And that is where the Speedos comes in!

We had our own school swimming pool and we swam every week in the summer. I loved swimming, I was forever in the water trying to hold my breath and diving as deep as I could. Many people that still know me will tell you I still do that and have often nearly passed out just to get further than someone else. Swimming lessons were another story though! We had to wear Speedos for our lessons and obviously for those teenagers whose bodies were like temples, this was a chance to really show off, and they did! For me this was a time to feel ridiculed and to face the teasing that comes from being a large front row player. I of course fended off the comments with humour and a shrug, as most do, but underneath I feared swimming every year. I also hated the fact that the water polo team were taken to the deep end, the swim team were taken to another space and the rest of us were taken to the shallows. Did they not know how deep I could dive and how long I could hold my breath?! I still think I should have been in the Big Blue with Jean Reno. It was immediately made apparent to me that this was no longer having fun in the water and developing skills, this was sport. I am not looking for any sympathy, I was one of the lucky ones because when we ‘did’ rugby, I was always chosen first and used to bash into and run over the ‘Speedo’ brigade. Competitive justice I think it’s called.

Play was the basis of our staff training days this year and the focus was on real PE, Family FUNS and the brilliance of Create Development. I am not on commission and I don’t need to include Create Development in this article, I mention them because they have built a whole company on the power of fun and play. Do not confuse play or fun with chaos that has no impact and benefit. When playing and having fun the intention is always to learn and to teach others. These principles drive everything this company does and is the key reason we use real PE across the curriculum.

When you place 25 members of staff in the hands of a trainer for two separate days you sometimes wonder if that same firing squad is beginning to oil their weapons and get their uniforms dry-cleaned. There are many insecurities when you engage in physical activities and the ‘Speedo’ panic is felt by many in many different contexts. These feelings and emotions flood back in and can quite literally cause people to disengage and refuse to be involved. I watched our staff walk in to the hall on our Inset day and I can honestly say I had absolutely no worries about how the two days would go. Why, because I knew that we would be playing! That’s what Liam Nicell and Tim Dancer do better then most!

And that is what we did! We played and engaged with each other on a physical and emotional level and laughed till our sides hurt. The laughter was never based on ridicule; it was based on a mutual appreciation and a commitment to providing our learners with a well-rounded curriculum that develops the whole child. We also all know that if we are ever going to ask our children to trust us then we need to come out of our comfort zones on a regular basis and to trust those around us. I must add that this is the same staff that all ballroom dance on a Thursday afternoon and have gone on to get their bronze medals. This is the same staff that have dressed up and stood on stage every year at our Lings Talent Show. They are the same staff that run at sports day, dance with the dance teacher, sing at weekly music sessions and attend the theatre on a regular basis. In short, they are staff that play. They play and laugh!

What better way to have started the year then by being involved in physical activity that has the power to change lives. Not just the lives of the children in our school but the lives of those that teach and learn there. With the power of Family FUNS we will also change the lives of those that are parents at Lings. They will also join us and we will all laugh and play together because a school that laughs and plays is successful in everything it does. Now we just need to convert that play and laughter in to some sort of data so that people will start to take notice of the power it has to change lives. Oh well, there’s the next challenge for Create Development!

What if The Simpsons had Family FUNS?

By Matt Lloyd, Regional Manager for the South West

The world’s favourite family: the Simpsons. We can all accept that when we look at their antics in Springfield, we see many behaviours that resonate in us…The cheeky rule bending of Bart, the disapproving but loving nature of Marge, the restrained ability of Lisa and, of course, the well- meaning stupidity of Homer. But what if the Simpson family had an opportunity to take part in a Family FUNS programme at Springfield Elementary?  Would things be different?

The Family FUNS Friday club at Springfield Elementary was an exciting new programme provided for local families as a positive experience in school for the whole family. The club was initially to help Maggie start First Grade, but the whole family were invited to join Family FUNS Friday led by a Teaching Assistant who had recently trained with Create Development.

The Simpson family were apprehensive at best prior to the first session; Marge had to pursuade Bart to come, and Homer had to make sure that he left the Springfield Nuclear Plant on time to make the session at the school and not go via Moe’s Bar.

The sessions were amazing and engaged the whole family; the impact after the 12 weeks was quite remarkable.

Maggie (The baby of the family) The Family FUNS programme was aimed at helping her to develop her Fundamental Movement Skills and encourage her to share and take turns, as well as improve her stickability to tasks. It seems that at home she had become rather self-centred and quite often distracted. After just eight weeks, Marge commented that she was much more coordinated and agile around the house and at play. Much less falling over and much less in need of the dummy as she could focus and concentrate without it! Quite remarkably though, one of the biggest successes for Maggie was that she was not only able to take turns more, but encouraged the others in the family when they played.

Bart – It could be argued that Bart needed Family FUNS more than anyone. He was an industrious lad when it suited him, but selfish to the end. ‘Family FUNS Friday’ helped Bart not only with his ABCs and to get that ‘trick nailed on the skateboard’ but he too became much better at helping and encouraging others around him. He loved Family FUNS as it was all about playing and taking on the role of someone else. As a real extrovert he loved being a pirate and actually helped engage the adults in being pirates too! Marge commented that she overheard Bart praise and celebrate his friends rather than calling them ‘dork us’. Most remarkably, he encouraged Rod and Todd Flanders next door to play rather than picking on them and now the Flanders are attending the Family FUNS Friday too!

Lisa – Lisa was initially excited about the Family FUNS Friday but on arrival became quite despondent, as she wanted to do her own thing in the corner- why couldn’t she just play her saxophone? However, when she realised (being quite intelligent and astute) that Family FUNS Friday was more than just playing games and that the whole family would join in and enjoy it she soon got on board. Although never really taking on the role of the pirate or Caspar the cat, she thrived on helping Maggie and some of the little ones. By the end she became a wonderful Family FUNS leader, arriving early to help set up.

Marge – Ever the home-maker, Marge always thought and considered her role to mother, protect and provide for her family. Playing games was simply a distraction to the things that needed doing around the house. Actually, in one of the early sessions she confessed that when it came to ‘play’, she never really had the confidence to play with the children and felt happiest doing things she needed to do with them – cooking etc. The Family FUNS Friday helped Marge do just that and she found it was much more fun. She was filled with confidence and loads of new ideas, games and challenges that she could play with the children and, in particular, do things that meant she could turn off the infernal TV and get the children playing beautifully with each other.

Homer – The Simpsons’ fourth child Homer was quite verbal about his dislike at being at the Family FUNS Friday instead of Moe’s after a long week snoozing in front of the computer at the plant. He complained that he was too tired to take part. However, when he realised that no one was forcing him and he could join in as and when he was ready he began to enjoy being a pirate on his own terms and, when reminded to, he was happy to celebrate successes with his family. He really came to life in Week 4 when the Family FUNS Board Game was introduced. At first he was over-competitive despite Marge’s best efforts to keep him calm and then he soon realised that the Family FUNS Board Game was not about winning, but instead was about challenging yourself. It soon became a bit of an obsession and he would take the ‘T,T,T’ challenge card to work with him and challenge his workmates!

The family have undergone some remarkable changes over the 12 weeks of Family FUNS Friday. They now enjoy playing with each other for starters. However, what is most notable is that they understand that by playing more together they are nicer to each other and life’s more fun. Even Principal has noticed the difference!

Lesley Doughty’s personal challenge

At the start of 2015, the staff at Create Development were asked to consider an exciting, personal challenge and to explore what personal and professional learning they might gain from the experience. It had to be something that they really wanted to do, may have already planned to do and it had to be outside our traditional skill set or really difficult for us to achieve. We’re sharing a selection of blogs documenting some of our successful and still progressing challenges, as we watch our team redefine what’s possible for themselves.

So far, we’ve already heard from Jan Parker about her incredible challenge to complete the Manchester to Blackpool bike ride – if you missed it, click here to read Part 1 of her blog. This week, we’ll be checking in with Lesley Doughty, Client Manager and Lead Tutor, as she challenges herself to improve both her mental and physical wellbeing through a few simple lifestyle changes.

Lesley’s blog
Overall, my personal challenge was to lead a more healthy life both mentally and physically, and I set about doing it two-fold:

Part One
After a bit of self-reflection and comments from my children and friends about not cutting off from work, I decided to take the following steps to re-address this issue:
1. As soon as I set foot in my house after a day’s work (or, if I’m working from home, when the children get home from school), I do not make or answer work calls or look/send/reply to emails.
2. If I have business that needs attending to that I can’t manage throughout a normal working day, I instead get up an hour earlier the following morning to manage (before the children wake up).
3. I do not send or receive calls or emails during weekends or holidays.

Lesley Doughty Blog 1The one thing I still found myself doing was upon waking up in the morning, I’d check my emails on my phone straight away. After discovering that Pam (Create’s Director of Delivery) did exactly the same we made a pact to stop doing it, which I’ve stuck to. Luckily, this came just before the summer, so initially this hasn’t been too difficult to adjust to!

There have been, of course, occasions when I have been unable to stick to the above but in general, I’ve been successful. Once I was in the habit of following the rules, they became easier to stick to. I found explaining this to other people the biggest challenge, but in fact most people have called it a great idea and totally accepted it.

The end result? I feel more refreshed each morning and as I’m spending proper time with the kids, they are happier and I feel less guilty!

Part Two
Over the last 6 years due to personal issues, I’ve gradually put on weight and become less active. I knew (and still know) that this is something I must address, as not only is it contributing to health issues, but also a decline in my self-esteem.

The intention was to calorie count and start going to the gym or a class and I applied to run the Great Northern Run. Along the way, I’ve encountered obstacles of stress, childcare, injury and work.

However, these have become an excuse rather than obstacles to overcome and at points, I’ve failed. I’ve had bouts of being ‘good’ but have always lapsed.

So, what is it that goes through my head? I’m tired, I haven’t enough time, wine is the only way I can relax (followed by snacking of course!), I’ve got nobody to look after the kids and so on. I know these are just excuses and actually mentally I feel sooooo much better when I get out running, cycling, going to bootcamp, sticking to my daily calories.Lesley Doughty Blog 3

What’s stopping me then? I think most of it is that it seems such a big mountain to climb and basically I want it now!

So how am I managing it? Well, I’ve now found a bootcamp in my village that runs three times a week and takes place in the park. Ben joins in the bootcamp while Hannah plays on the playpark with a friend – childcare sorted! As I’ve paid up front and we have a group messenger account, I find I make myself go so as not to appear lazy and to make sure I’m not wasting money – tiredness sorted! As I’m sticking to the ‘no work on evenings’ rule, work is also sorted!

I feel, therefore, that over the last three weeks I’ve got the exercise back in check.

The calories counting I’m still finding a challenge. I like cooking (normally with a glass a wine in my hand), my children are very active so need a high calorific diet and as my last year’s challenge was to improve my social life, I’m now going out a lot more which normally involves food and/or alcohol!

I’m now starting to keep a food diary and am intending to look at the calorie challenge one day at a time, saving up calories when I know I have a night out coming up.

The main lessons that I’d take away so far from my challenge would be:
1. Trust in others to support me
2. Break things down into smaller steps feels more achievable
3. Change excuses into obstacles to overcome and look for manageable solutions
4. Success feels good!
5. Change takes time

 

Lesley Doughty Blog 2

Loving PE – What’s the price?

By Pam Stevenson, Director of Delivery at Create Development

This three(ish) part blog is a little self-indulgent exploration of how my personal experiences have contributed to my thoughts, beliefs, passions and philosophy about PE and school sport.

Part 1: Loving PE – What’s the price?
Sport and physical activity has always been a huge part of my life. I can’t imagine a week or even a day without something physical figuring in it and that’s how it’s always been. I was born into a classical “sporty” family. Both my parents represented Ireland. My dad was a cricketer and my mum, got lucky and played squash. (There were only two women’s squash clubs in Ireland at the time.)

At primary school my mum drove the netball team to all their matches in the back of a van without completing a risk assessment form. In fact without seatbelts or even seats. Then at the rather stuffy grammar school I attended, sport was the only thing that kept me sane, although I continually lived under the common threat of, “No hockey unless you behave better, dress neater, giggle less and concentrate more”. I have vivid, living, breathing memories of feeling hot and sweaty in just about every class and I still get a thrill in remembering a banana swerve goal that won us a school hockey final. But my clearest grammar school memory, is also one my weirdest memories. We turned up to play Skipton at hockey, on a Saturday morning and we were 10-0 up at half time partly because they didn’t have a goalkeeper. So what do you think happened?

A – We gave them a goalie?
B – We took off our best players?
C – My mum got padded up and went in goal?

Yes, much to my complete mortification but not really surprising it was C. We didn’t score at all in the second half mainly due to us all falling around and howling when we neared the goal!

On our three-day real PE programme, time and time again teachers offer up three words to describe their PE experience that demonstrate the polarization of people’s experience of PE:

Humiliating v Exhilarating
Cold v Fantastic
Embarrassing v Exciting

So, my three words to describe my school PE and Sport experience were: exhilarating, all-consuming and life-saving.

This was different for all my other siblings for different reasons. My sisters weren’t perceived as being ‘sporty’ so fell through the cracks and my brother, quite small for his age didn’t have the luxury of playing Kwik Cricket and so for a good few years struggled with the size and weight of a cricket bat, his confidence and self-esteem. So within our household we represented a little cameo of primary PE. If you’re good at PE it only gets better and better and if you’re not – tough! Time and time again real access, for the majority of children, to a PE curriculum simply wasn’t simple. Neither was it sensible or effective, and was light years away from inspiring.

The generalist primary teachers who do know children and learning have, for too long, felt bound to follow the ‘experts’ and delivered a sport-focused/teacher led PE curriculum. Without the appropriate support, clarity of messages or a clear alphabet of physical skills. This has often resulted in a wedge being further driven between the ‘haves’ (children with good Fundamental Movement Skills, confidence and opportunity) and the ‘have nots’.

Going to PE college just reinforced more of the same. Sport too early, too much theory and not enough fun and magic. So much so, I opted to do a dance degree in Year 2, having never really “danced”. (I had been thrown out of ballet aged eight when really it should have been Susan Kirk.)

This was my escape from skill acquisition and the archaic delivery of hockey and netball. I left PE college and got my first teaching job in the mid 1980s and suddenly I was asked to teach “Games for Understanding” and this is where my thinking began to change. The physically confident children had to contribute and challenge themselves more than just physically and the less physically confident children designed their own games allowing them to paint and star in their own PE canvas. I was also challenged as I began to question all my previous thoughts and beliefs about PE.

“Games for Understanding” was the first step on a very long journey towards real PE, arriving in my early 50s…Chatting with my sister over a beer one day it dawned on me: What if all the school PE I had loved and triumphed in came at a price? Robbing other people of the chance to love physical activity and sport. Systematically stripping away children’s love of moving and being active. Pretty much 100% of nursery aged children love running around and being active which isn’t the case in a Year 9 PE class. What happens in between? Can we create more children that, like dogs, are simply desperate to be given opportunities to run flat out and explore their environments actively?

At school the second the bell went, all I could think of was playing something and for me that something was luckily the only item on the menu – sport. Let’s expand the menu, equip those best to prepare and serve. Isn’t there too much at stake not to?

Jan’s Challenge – Part 2!

Last time we heard from Jan Parker, she aimed to complete the amazing task of the Manchester to Blackpool cycle ride in aid of the M.E Association. She had started the training process (if you missed out, you can click here to catch up!). Now, in Part 2, we’ll be finding out how she got on in completing this incredible Create Personal Challenge and what she learned along the way.

Written by Jan Parker, Create Development Client Manager and Tutor.

Event numbersMay/June

I’ve entered the Manchester to Blackpool ride on 12th July – starting at Old Trafford. Whoop! Whoop!

I’ve also set up a Just Giving page – and people are actually donating.  People are so generous! Even had a donation from someone I don’t even know through an M.E Facebook page.

I’m getting more of a training programme in place. I’m trying to go for a longer ride at the weekend and a shorter one during the week, although I’m finding it very difficult with work and other commitments. I took the bikes to Dorset for a week and enjoyed some new scenery. I’m proud to say that we have never repeated a longer ride (we are lucky enough to live near Tatton Park so a short route from our house, through the park and back again is approximately 13km, so it’s good for an after work ride).

Getting nervous now that we are getting nearer to the date of the ride (12th July), and I’m definitely a fair weather rider; what if it is chucking it down on the day??!

We’ve had some memorable rides over this time but two stand out in my mind: the first one is the longest one we did in training (44 miles) which was a really lovely day riding mostly along little country lanes around home that we didn’t even know existed. The last part was tough though – tired legs, the A50 with cars and lorries whizzing past and a head wind but felt a real sense of achievement. The second ride was a real tough one. We had not been able to manage a weekend ride so had to fit it in after work after a particularly heavy period of delivery. Roger was home before me and Rest stop on route from Manchester to Blackpool at Charnock Richardsorted out the route so we set off and everything was going fine. We came to a part where there is a new road with a cycle path down the side and I thought this was going to be great – not too far to go home and a nice surface to ride on. But did we go down it? Oh no, the husband had decided that we needed some “hills practice” so we tackled the locally notorious “Wizard” at Alderley Edge. Every time I thought it might be levelling out, we would turn a corner and there would be another steep climb. This was the toughest yet and I was close to never wanting to see a bike again! This ride was very close to D-Day and I knew that, mentally, I needed to do another ride which was enjoyable before the day otherwise I would be fighting demons all the way.

July

This is it! The day has arrived. Have to say I am really nervous, worried that I won’t be able to complete, that I haven’t done enough training…

still riding post challenge - across the causeway to Holy Island (lindesfarne)However, it was BRILLIANT! It was a little drizzly at the start and cool – perfect weather. Our family came out to support us on the way and the wonderful Phill O’Brien brought us and our bikes back home at the end. I managed all the hills (!), loved the camaraderie amongst the riders, the encouragement from bystanders and the feeling that we were doing something that was worthwhile and purposeful.

What I have learned so far:

> Cyclists don’t wear knickers under their padded shorts!

> Although I am a determined character, I know I would have struggled to do this on my own. My lovely hubby has encouraged, sweated with me and sorted out all our routes – what a hero!

> Anything that requires endurance and stamina is as much about a mental state of mind as it is about the physical

> An endurance activity can also be fun!

August

Just had an email to say that as we have raised over £700, that puts us in the top 5% of Just giving donations!

What’s next?

  • I’m still researching about M.E and finding out more – there is so much to find out
  • I’m currently creating a scrapbook to document my experiences

Blackpool - the finish!

real PE – a unique perspective!

Written by Tim Dancer, Director of real PE at Create Development

Welcome to the first of three instalments of ‘real PE – a unique perspective’. With over 10,000 practitioners trained (at the time of writing), real PE continues to gain momentum as a solution to support practitioners to give children the best early experiences of physical activity and PE and as Director of real PE, I am both proud and humbled by the impact and anecdotes I see and hear on a daily basis. However, for my blog, I wanted to offer a unique perspective on a teacher establishing real PE in their school. The twist…the teacher in question is my wife! I make no guarantees that I will still have a wife come the third instalment. It appears that whilst I score pretty well with teachers who attend one of my real PE Create Learning Communities, when it comes to my most dearest, I have many failings – apparently. To help visualise the odd couple see the photo below.

Tim and Sonia

 

After a year of supply teaching, my wife was offered a 0.7 contract to teach Foundation and Key Stage 1 PE whilst also covering the Key Stage 2 NQT’s Planning, Preparation and Assessment (PPA) in a local school. She was delighted! In her mind, she got the perfect job – teaching the best subject in a school that has given her free reign to develop a new, positive and inclusive culture in PE – creating fabulous core memories (see Ronnie Heath blog by clicking here). Thank goodness she came to me for some help (it would have been very embarrassing if not).

This blog will serve up her journey through establishing, embedding and celebrating real PE with the pupils and staff.

Step 1: Establishing real PE – the children and resources

Before she even attended Day 1 of a real PE programme, she took full advantage of me and requested I spend an afternoon over the park with her showing her how some of the resources for real PE fit together. We looked odd. Me, 6ft 4” and looking like a pirate, our two children (the eldest laughing a lot, the youngest eating grass and sporadically chasing dogs) and her, all playing a variety of games, singing songs and running about with the colourful First FUNS cards and storybooks in our hands. We got looks. With an evening recap to ensure she understood the key elements, she took the first step, like many teachers who take real PE back to their school, by getting her teeth into the resources with her children.

Now, she was a bit nervous, her first day covered year Reception, Year 1, 3 and 6…a busy day! I did receive a call in the car on the way to work: “Is it OK if I play throw tennis indoors?” followed by “What’s the password for the interactive stories again?” I must have answered these well as we did not end the call with an argument. She came home smiling. Four weeks into the new term and things are still going well. The children are engaged and included in every aspect of the lesson, progress is already clear (those FUNS student cards really are genius!) and activity levels are high.

However, after a particularly wet day she came home looking frustrated. “The Year 1s and 3s just didn’t click today. They enjoyed the games and FUNS challenges but struggled sharing the equipment and the Year 1s just couldn’t follow instructions.”

Time for us to explore Multi-Abilities!

Keep you eye open for Tim’s next blog instalment.

Creating fabulous core memories

Written by Ronnie Heath, Managing Director of Create Development

Dad photo

How refreshingly simple; create fabulous core memories of physical activities, encourage rich ‘thought bubbles’ and build a vast and exciting island of positive physical activity experiences. Disney’s ‘Inside Out’ was of course delightfully cheesy but it highlights the root of the challenge we face when creating a positive relationship with physical activity for life.

So many 7 year olds already describe themselves as ‘non-sporty’, a term which means just not suited to or just doesn’t enjoy PE or Sport. We culturally allow them to accept the fixed mind-set that it’s nobody’s fault, she is just born that way. At 4 years old she loves physical activity, but by 11 Jasmine has established a firm set of values of beliefs and she has already decided that this is not where she belongs. Her secondary school experience is likely to confirm her hypothesis every day; that by not engaging she can reduce the pain and humiliation.

“At 4 years old she loves physical activity, by 11 Jasmine has already decided that this is not where she belongs.”

‘This Girl Can’ is a great campaign for adult women, but how about a real PE programme that makes every young girl and boy believe they can and always will?

Too often, those who describe themselves as ‘thought leaders’, whilst well meaning, provide only an academic framework that fails to engage with the very audience they would like to lead. For generations, it is the 30% who ‘get PE & sport’ who repeatedly fail the 70%. We want people to join the real PE movement that ‘gets’ and understands the majority rather than try and force them to try and ‘get’ our version of physical education. We don’t give them a reason to follow.

“How about a real PE programme that makes every young girl and boy believe they can and always will?” 

Of course we should stretch and support the most able. Of course we should provide opportunity for challenge at all levels but that has to start with empathy and understanding of all children. The amazing thing is, once your focus switches from teaching PE to developing Jasmine, it really does get much easier.

Some things are simply much more important than others. We have spoken at length, quite rightly, that early progress in the A, B, Cs of agility, balance and coordination provide an essential platform for future success. However, it is self-determination theory (Ryan & Deci , 2000) that provides the radical common sense. It suggests that autonomy and belonging need to be added to that competence to provide an alternative essential A, B, C base for our core memories. Our responsibility is to provide the learning nutrition that shifts ownership and control, create an environment that gives them a real sense of belonging and a framework of progressive personalised challenges that they can explore and adapt.

“The amazing thing is, once your focus switches from teaching PE to developing Jasmine it really does get much easier.”

Let’s invest where we can make the biggest difference, in the early years with a focus on the things that are most important. Let’s support, schools, families and communities to transform the culture of physical activity, a culture with an inclusive vision of hope and possibility. We can do that if we focus on the child first, helping them develop essential behaviours, physical literacy, thinking and emotional skills. We will need to develop approaches and habits that make them feel fantastic about themselves and about physical activity, whether that is through unstructured play, PE or Sport.

We can as Gove suggests make them run around the field as a method of discipline, associating exercise with punishment, or we can strive to create core memories of healing not humiliation, joyfulness of playing with others, and a deep pleasure of immersing themselves in an exciting struggle personalised and chosen by them. It is these experiences that develop a long-lasting, totally different calibration and relationship with physical activity.

“It is these experiences that develop a long-lasting, totally different calibration and relationship with physical activity.”

It’s easy to assume it can only be specialist PE teachers or coaches that that can deliver our vision. Have specialists in secondary schools, my own colleagues and I, succeeded? Generalist primary teachers understand learning and know their children better than anyone. Primary teachers already possess the majority of the key skills required and demonstrate them in other subjects. Parents, given support, are motivated to give their children the best opportunities and chances. The time has come to extend our delivery communities, very deliberately, to involve some that have had the poorest experiences. Let’s embrace their empathy, for surely they are more qualified than most to truly understand the ones we most need to reach out to.

“Generalist primary teachers understand learning and know their children better than anyone.”

It’s happening now, it’s real, not consistently and not everywhere, but hundreds of thousands of children are building a rich and diverse physical activity island. It’s ridiculously simple, free from the distractions and agenda of specific sports.

The thing that drives us all at Create and the thousands joining the movement is that we believe one day real PE, will be just seen as the normal PE. We can strive for a day when children take it for granted that whether at school, home or in their communities, wherever physical activity takes place, they will feel they belong.

Create’s Personal Challenges

At the start of 2015, the staff at Create Development were asked to consider an exciting, personal challenge and to explore what personal and professional learning they might gain from the experience. It had to be something that they really wanted to do, may have already planned to do and it had to be outside our traditional skill set or really difficult for us to achieve. Staff journeys were then documented in a blog.

The team set out on their challenges, some physical, some practical, some personal, in the hope that we could all experience the same progressive challenges as the amazing teachers we deliver to, increasing our empathy and improving our own practice. Over the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing a selection of blogs documenting some of our successful and still progressing challenges, as we watch our team redefine what’s possible for themselves!

This week, we’ll be checking in with Jan Parker, who set herself the amazing task of completing the Manchester to Blackpool cycle ride in aid of the M.E. Association. Here’s Part 1 of her fantastic adventure!

Jan’s Blog – Part 1
First of all, I have to say that when the email came through, my initial thoughts were, “Oh no, something else I have to and fit in when all I want is to sleep for a week!” However, that soon changed when I opened the attachment and read the task – genius! What a great task – pick anything I want to do and chart my learning journey. So, the first problem to think about was what I was going to do. There were lots of things I considered: something along the sewing/craft line, learning to play the piano better than I can now (so that people may just want to listen to me playing rather than cover their ears!), and I love food, so maybe something around cooking?

In the end, though, I wanted something that would provide a challenge in more than one area but also something I would enjoy doing and would be able to fit into my lifestyle. I enjoy pootling around on my bike, usually on holiday, so I thought what about making that more of a challenge and aiming for a long distance ride? And, whilst I was about it, what about also raising some money for charity? Roger (my husband) was totally supportive (and actually I think slightly jealous that he didn’t get such CPD opportunities from his school!), so being the kind of guy he is, agreed to join me in this challenge.

The Physical Challenge
To train on my bike and aim to complete the Manchester to Blackpool Bike Ride on 12th July 2015.

The Personal Challenge
I haven’t really trained hard for anything probably since my lacrosse playing days so discipline is going to be a challenge. Four years ago, I spent several months on crutches after arthroscopies on both knees. My original consultant told me that I would not be able to run, jump, hop or basically do anything much physically – needless to say, I soon ditched him! It has been, and continues to be at times, a hard journey. I have learnt to manage my knees and limit my activity – but I always want to do more. One of the reasons I picked cycling is because it is minimal impact and actually helps my knees. I also know that I can be very determined when I have a goal in sight.

When I was on the long rehab road, one of my long term goals was to climb to the top of Goat Fell on the Isle of Arran (2888m). Having been there for two years on the trot both times either on crutches or able to only walk short distances, this was a real incentive. The weather nearly scuppered my plans – 10 foot of snow fell the week before we arrived! – but I want to have that feeling of achievement again.
Mountain 2Untitled1

 

 

 

The Social Challenge

SisterThis is my lovely sister in law, Isabel. Isabel has suffered for over 30 years now with M.E. (Myalgic Encephalopathy). Despite the way in which this illness has wreaked havoc on her life, she has become light and sound sensitive which means that she has to sit in sunglasses even on a dull day, she can only drive short distances and that only on a good day. If she has an evening out she has to completely rest for the preceding three days and the following three days she remains positive and one of the most beautiful people I have the privilege of knowing. So, my challenge will include raiding funds for the M.E Association and also researching about the illness so that I can have a greater understanding of Isabel and others like her.

The Cognitive Challenge
My cognitive focus is going to be around finding out more about M.E but also about long distance biking. I will also need to learn how to maintain my bike and what sort of bike is best for longer distances.

January/February
Most of this time was spent finding out about the long distance bike rides available. I learned that the type of ride I am going to do is called a “sportive” ie: they are not timed so they are not a race (phew!) and many of them are charity rides. I settled on the Manchester to Blackpool because:
• I don’t have to travel far to get to the start
• It seems like a distance that will challenge – particularly the hilly part through Wigan and Preston – but should (!) be achievable.

I also realised that something like this would be really difficult on my hybrid bike which is lovely and comfortable but heavy and hard going over long distances. I researched on my own but also spoke to lots of people in the know (including our own Phil Wylie) and eventually settled on a Tourer Bike – light like a road bike but a bit more stable and able to take panniers. Both Roger and I felt this was important as we wanted this to be long term and something that we continue to pursue beyond the Create challenge.

I also started to research the use of stains for people with M.E as Isabel really suffers with taking these; she finds it hard to read more than a couple of sentences at a time now because it all “wobbles” due to her M.E. This made very interesting reading and was something practical I could do for her.

March
March was a key month in that we purchased our new bikes (eek!). I also attended a bike maintenance workshop (fortuitously put on by another team in my workplace for members of the public). In theory, I can now mend a puncture. It also introduced me to the wonderful Leham who not only ran the workshop but gave us great advice and ended up building our bikes for us.

First time out on the bike and first impressions: it was not as stable as my hybrid and I felt pretty vulnerable. It took me time to get used to the different gears and I am sure I live in pothole heaven! This took me a bit by surprise as I wasn’t expecting this. Oh, and I need to get some gel shorts!
Work (Livewire) have also purchased “staff bikes” to enable us to get round the town for meetings etc which I have been able to make use of.

April
We had a week on the Isle of Arran and took the hybrids as we knew we might do a bit of track riding. Not really training as such: lots of stops and coffee shops along the way but got to see some magnificent views.

Since returning, I have managed to get out twice a week – sometimes just a training ride around Tatton Park (13km) but, at other times, a longer distance.

I have also had some frustrations to deal with as my problem knee has made itself felt – it’s often hard to know what the exBikes 1act cause is but I have had to rest for the last week or so which I never find easy.

Interestingly, the cycling has prompted me to think more about my general health and fitness. This has coincided with Livewire offering free gym membership to all employees – I had been going twice a week for 3 months – now this has kickstarted me into using the gym on a regular basis. I was using it before but not regularly enough. I also decided that it would be good to lose some weight which I have allowed to creep on so, two weeks in to keeping a food and exercise diary, I have lost 5lbs.

I am also enjoying exploring more of the countryside around where I live. There is so much and it is particularly nice at this time of year.

Road 1Next steps:

  • Actually enter the ride and start to raise some funds.
  • Get a proper training programme sorted
  • Contact the M.E. Association for information but also spend some time on their website.

Watch this space to read Part 2 of Jan’s Blog and find out if she completed her challenging cycle ride.

What would your pupils say?

If your pupils were asked to take part in a little PE literacy to discuss their PE, Sport and Leadership experiences what would they write?

Pupils in Year 5 at Marish Primary School were asked just this and what they wrote is quite special. Hafsah Zishan gives his very honest and inspirational opinion as he talks through his memories from the last year and the difference PE has made to both him and the pupils at his school. So beautifully written!

Click on the images below to read his full memoir.

Hafsah Zishan Yr 5 PE Literacy pg 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hafsah Zishan Yr 5 PE Literacy PG 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“…Wherever you are, whatever you do, you can work to be outstanding, you deserve to be outstanding, and you will be outstanding! All of you, all of us, are on a learning journey, a learning experience. And I wish every single one of you good luck and your own special memories along the way.”
Hafsah Zishan, Year 5
Marish Primary School

The power to transform schools

This blog post has been written by Headteacher, Leigh Wolmarans of Lings Primary School. Leigh explains how powerful PE and sport really is when taught correctly.

Many years ago I remember sitting at a very dull conference with many other Headteachers that were finding it equally as dull. It was the same message being driven home with a jackhammer – improve results, improve schools, improve attendance, tackle under achievement – like this is not what we were doing from the trenches on a daily basis!

I was sitting in this conference as the Headteacher of a school that had just become ‘Outstanding’. A school that had almost defied all the odds and broken the mould by breaking every fallacy there is about education. Castle Primary School in Northampton had 75% English as an additional language, 60% of the children had a range of special needs, 45% were on free school meals and it was based in one of the highest social deprivation areas in Northamptonshire. As a school we ignored all these ‘hurdles to learning’ and taught in a creative way that put Sports and the Arts at the centre of our curriculum. When we achieved our ‘Outstanding’ status, the first ever Northampton Primary School to do so, no one knew how we had done it or what the journey had entailed. Our staff knew, our parents knew and our children definitely knew. The tool that started the transformation was – come closer and I will whisper it but don’t tell anyone – sport!

Jump back to that meeting and a lady, who will remain nameless, stood up and said that competitive sport and sport itself in school was having a negative impact on some children’s lives. It was teaching them to fail at a young age and it was putting certain children on pedestals. She went on to make some very generalised statements about the dangers of a sporting culture in schools and it was obvious that she had suffered at the hands of some abysmal sports teaching as a child. Those that know me will tell you that keeping my mouth shut when I hear something that is contrary to my belief and obviously incorrect, is very, very, very difficult. I felt my inner voice trying to jump out and say something. I kept it at bay for a while but it must have found the skeleton key somewhere and it escaped! Before I knew what I was doing I stood up and said, “I am sorry but you are totally wrong”! I think it may have been at this point that some of the delegates woke up, everyone likes a bit of confrontation. The lady looked down at me from her podium and asked me to explain. That was dangerous because those same people that would tell you about my mouth will also tell you that this combined with my passion can result in a very large South African becoming VERY intense VERY quickly.

I went on to tell her that I was born and grew up in Zimbabwe and South Africa where the importance of sport is recognised, nurtured and maintained. I explained that one of the only reasons I ever attended school was the fact that I had to if I was ever going to make the rugby team! I went on to tell her that many of the children that I taught on a daily basis, yes I am a teaching Headteacher and will always will be, were in the same position as I was when I was their age. I continued to explain the impact that sport had at Castle Primary School and how our recent ‘Outstanding’ status was down to the ethos and vision that sport had given the school. I concluded that we could take any failing school and just by starting off with changing the ethos of sport, we could start the revolution and turn the school into a successful place that met the needs of every learner. My closing statement went along the lines of: “We show a piece of literacy and numeracy on a daily basis and tell the children how amazing they are but when they are good at sport we then decide that we cannot tell them because others may feel inferior. It may be the only thing they are excellent at but because you don’t agree with competition we will not celebrate their success”. I sat back and waited for the applause!

I felt like I was on fire and that everyone would be ‘with me’ and rally against what the woman was saying. I was shocked back in to reality when I looked around the room and saw many faces looking at me in disbelief. They were siding with the sport hating lady on stage! This couldn’t be. We had seen the power of sport first hand in our school. I suddenly became professionally aware that not everyone thought the same way as we did, in my naïve brain I felt that everyone held our passion for the transformational power of sport. I left the conference that afternoon deflated and a little bit insecure, perhaps we were wrong, perhaps it wasn’t sport that had started the revolution and it was only in my imagination.

Fast forward to September 2011 and I had just left Castle Primary School to take on the final remaining special measures school in Northampton, a school that had been in special measures for nearly a year and a half. Lings Primary School is based in the Eastern Districts of Northampton and its spreadsheet was similar to that of Castle Primary School. The only notable difference was the fact that there were not as many English as a second language speakers but the free school meals percentage was over 50%. There was also a history of low performance and in July the school had made the dreaded 200 list of worst performing schools nationally based on their very low Key Stage 2 results. There was also a high proportion of low performing white British boys, a trend that we had managed to buck at Castle Primary School. I knew a few things about the school and these things made me very confident for the future. They had great staff who all wanted the school to improve and they were a positive group that had a belief in what the school could do. There were a few members of staff that were passionate about sport and a HLTA that was a force of nature in this department. I also knew that there were some incredibly talented children in the school that just needed this talent to be nurtured, developed, challenged and set free. I remembered my discussion with the anti-sport lady a few years before and decided to put our theory in to practice!

We started by building up an ethos and vision for sport, this has to be the starting point and it needed to be focused on a solid base of behaviour and discipline. Our children needed to understand the importance of what it meant to be a Lings Primary pupil before we did anything else. They needed to have a clear idea of what our purpose was and what we embodied. I was lucky that a boy called Lennon gave me our motto/catchphrase on the first day. He said, “Mr Wolmarans, we are here to set a standard”. I took that statement on my first day and plastered it all over the school, including on a brilliant piece of art as you walk in to the reception area. We made sure that everyone spoke in the language of growth mindset and that it was all about ‘Setting the standard’ in everything we did. Learning and teaching is the key to EVERYTHING so we set about making sure that everyone knew what our non-negotiables in teaching were and how we were going to achieve these. This meant that I went straight in to class and had a two and a half day teaching commitment, teaching sport across the school. This was the starting point as I could get to know every child and would get a chance to see if this ‘sport theory’ actually worked. We also set up as many opportunities as we could. This meant a great structure of after school clubs that were run by staff and quality professionals. I was lucky that I had met many amazing coaches and sportsmen and women in my time at Northampton and all I did was call them and say – HELP!

We also started to tap in to the brilliant clubs, organisations and structures we have in Northampton. As a Saints fan I was on the phone in an instant as I knew that the Saints Study Centre and the activities that they run have a real impact. We also tapped in to the phenomenal work they do with their coaches in schools and programmes they run to highlight the importance of sport. We did the same with the Steelbacks and the Cobblers as it is vital to build strong links with all community clubs. We worked closely with Northamptonshire Sport and Back of the Net to tap in to the high standard of training, coaching and development they offered. We also made sure that we got rid of the ‘transport argument’ quickly by getting a mini bus and training people on how to drive it. We made sure that the children were constantly out and about and were involved in as many competitions, festivals and opportunities as possible. Our answer to any invite was and is always YES! And so the revolution began. It gained momentum, snowballed and turned in to a movement.

What happened was truly remarkable and is the main reason that I am writing this piece. By March 2012 the school had thrown off the shackles of special measures and had become good in every category. We built up a brilliant relationship with an amazing company called Create Development and became a pilot school for their programme real PE, which had a huge impact on our school, we will be one of their ‘beacon’ schools in September 2015. We have built up strong links with so many clubs that it is impossible to name them all. We have a partnership with Northamptonshire Sport that has meant we have brilliant coaches in our school on a weekly basis. Our school became Town Sports School of the Year for two years running and then became County Sports School of the Year in 2014. Lings has gained national recognition for the work that we do with our Change for Life scheme, Virgin Active scheme and the work we do on real PE. The work we do with the School Sports Partnership has had an incredible impact on the standard of what we do and the level of pupil leadership that is evident in our school. We take part in over 95% of all town competitions and work closely with the Northampton Town School Sports Federation and take part in every festival, competition and learn to play session available.

The impact in other areas has been transformational. We have invested in dance and our Strictly Squad have won the town Strictly Tournament and all squads are now through to the regional finals. Our staff now dance on a weekly basis and have taken their medals in Ballroom and Latin. Our results have shot up and we are now above national expectations in every area with many of our children outperforming children in similar contexts. We are jumping over the hurdles of white British boy achievement, pupil premium attainment and achievement and under performance.

And the icing on the cake. This week we have nine different teams through to the Level 3 games ranging from Year 1 to Year 6. This is made more impressive by the fact that it is in seven different sports and no team is the same. This is even made greater by the fact that we are a one-form entry primary school in the Eastern districts. This goes in to the stratosphere when you know that this has never been done before and means that over a third of the school will be representing the town in July at the Sainsbury Level 3 Games.

On Thursday I sat down with Anne Davies, the passionate HLTA I spoke about, and we were at a loss for words. Her son, who also helps out at Lings, sat with us and we tried to put in to words how we got to where we are. It is based on participation first and excellence second. It is making sure that EVERY child gets the opportunities and no one ever feels left out. It is about challenging every child, no matter what their level, and making them realise that it is about developing an attitude to sport and physical development. It is also about seeing that they should love their bodies and what they can do with them and that they should use this ‘machine’ in creative ways. It is about making them comfortable in the skin they are in and giving them a growth mindset to face any challenge that will come their way. It is about ethos, motivation, passion and belief and it is about setting the standard in EVERYTHING we do.

So my original theory of you can change a school by starting with sport seems to have been proved, you have all the evidence to suggest that this hypothesis is true. But I now disagree with this original theory and have adapted it slightly. My theory is now as follows: You need to start by developing a growth mindset on life that is built on a concrete base of morals, discipline and respect. You then need to use the power of Sport, the Arts and creativity to develop all learning equally so that our children become the individuals that we need in our society. So that they can one day enjoy teaching their children the importance of education.

Pick your weapon of change. Ours was sport. What’s yours?

Creating the secure personalised bridge for learners to close the gap 

If you didn’t get a chance to see Create’s Managing Director, Ronnie Heath’s keynote speech in the Bett Arena at the Bett Show on Thursday, 22nd January please see below for Ronnie’s blog post:

Cultural community change vs short term interventions

At Create Development we have had the privilege to work together and support over 2000 schools. All are striving to do better for all their students, indeed in particular they are committed to creating better life chances for their more disadvantaged pupils. In our experience, there is one clear distinction between the really successful ones and the ones still battling hard to try and make a difference.

The difference is the most successful ones have a much smaller, but, relentless focus where there is a clear obvious and deliberate alignment between:

  • What they believe in. 
  • What they say. 
  • What they do. 

Let’s develop a programme and a supporting tool to deal with root causes instead of treating symptoms of underachievement. 

Cultural community change vs multiple and sometimes random interventions

When we were discussing preparations for the Bett Show it reminded me how similar the problem is with the way we approach our own health and fitness. We believe it is the most important thing, we sometimes tell others but we rarely do what is necessary to make it our priority.

At this time of the year most of us have either broken our recent resolutions or are seeing our commitment falter. And the reasons why?

  • Aggressive short-term interventions unsustainable.
  • We join a gym and go everyday for two weeks for intense sessions.
  • We decide immediately to stop eating chocolate, crisps, drinking alcohol or switch to a gluten free diet.
  • We even go on a novelty diet i.e. 5 and 2 or join a weight loss commercial club. They both work, in fact the weight loss clubs business plans are based on them working followed by you failing alone and returning again creating a dependency relationship.

The challenge is to establish clear alignment in:

what we believe in,
           to
what we say
         and
what we do

Imagine if you only had to make small, simple changes that made a massive long-term difference. Maybe not just you, but, a cultural community change where everyone around you is working on the same habits and behavioural changes. What if those small, simple changes were enjoyable, pleasurable and rewarding.

Now consider that everyone goes to the gym, it’s on your doorstep. You have achievable goals, personalised for you, for your aspirations. A clear, enjoyable journey with milestones to celebrate and that make you feel proud. You are supported and coached by others indeed you coach and support them.

The whole community praises your behaviours and your favourite tasty healthy foods are in abundance at home. But not just in one room, all rooms, not just at home but at work, in restaurants, and everyone else’s home, no temptations or confused messages yet a huge amount of choice and personal control. An ‘exceed’ environment where we exceed everyone’s expectations.

A school ‘exceed’ environment, an exceed cultural change:

  • Everybody working together, developing and supporting each other to exceed everyone’s expectations.
  • Clear learning journeys, personalised goals.
  • A balanced diet of challenge and success.
  • A sense of belonging and feeling good about myself with autonomy over my decisions. 

We know and accept how incredibly tough it is, sometimes fighting against a present home environment of fear, mistrust and anger. But every small step is worth it. Overtime, we can create a warm supportive community that can provide the learning nutrition for every child to thrive and for those who need it most.

As part of the ‘exceed’ programme, the Create Development Wheel (CD Wheel) supports us all to build a foundation of accelerated learning culture, it encourages us to shift our valuable resources and focus on the most important things that make the biggest long-term difference.

Simple changes to embed habits that sustain progress over time for our most vulnerable children. 

Examples of action:
Heath and fitness.
Ultimately, a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle. We can quickly gain short-term wins but they must create foundations we can build upon. For example, habitual walking, carrying a water bottle, eat an apple daily and carry fruit and nuts in the car.

The ‘exceed’ programme and the CD Wheel supports us to address the 3 key challenges we face to close the attainment gap. 

  1. Long-term sustainable, ‘secure’ bridge for our PP children

We reject short-term, quick fixes and only accept quick wins that provide platforms to be built upon.

  1. Clear focus

Focus on specific needs by clear profiling, recognising personal starting points and celebrating each step.

  • Develop a personalised approach.
  • Provide clear learning journeys towards shared vision.
  • Focus valuable resources on the essential core elements, the most important things.

Small, simple consistent changes that transform learning.

  1. Togetherness

Where everyone is pulling together to create a consistently positive learning environment without contradictions.

  • Pupils feel valued and a sense of belonging.
  • Management, teachers and all support staff develop simple, effective habits to model and provide rich and balanced learning nutrition.

Let us make this really clear. In conclusion, we are suggesting we ask our teachers and support staff to do less.

Questions for Phil Wylie, Closing the Gap National Lead

RH: Phil, you have personally, successfully used the CD Wheel and the ‘exceed’ programme in schools. Tell us what are the essential habits for teachers and support staff to transform learning? 

Learning Nutrients – high expectations

  1. A clear, personalised outcome.
  2. Success and failure (appropriate challenge).
  3. Praise for positive behaviours.
  4. Celebration/review of progress.
  5. Coach and support others (pupils collaborate).
  6. Control.

RH: Phil, how does the ‘exceed’ programme work? 

‘exceed’ is a comprehensive training programme, which will transform the teaching habits of your staff and the learning behaviours of your disadvantaged pupils, with market leading tools to evidence progress.

transform learning culture,
close the attainment gap,
exceed expectations

RH: How does the CD Wheel help to develop those habits and behaviours? 

  1. Accelerate learning, maximise Pupil Premium impact with the CD Wheel
  • Personalise your approach, inform your planning.
  • Put your time and energy into doing one or two simple things really well.
  1. Transform teaching habits
  • Focus on simple strategies.
  • Create small measurable changes in your teaching habits.
  • Help them feel good and enjoy their teaching!
  1. Transform learning behaviours
  • Focus on essential learning skills and behaviours.
  • Change pupils’ perceptions of themselves and their abilities.
  • Help them feel good about themselves!

Find out more how we can work together by clicking here.

Day 10 Oakfield Summer School

The last day of Summer Camp! It has been an adventurous experience for the children as well as the mentors. We started the day by completing the pupils’ booklets, saying what they achieved and how summer camp has helped them. Afterwards, we played the “Flower Game” where we attempted to hit a cone by throwing balls. After a break of juice and cake (it is Fletcher’s birthday) we helped the children create a shape that represented their learning power and taught each other our shape. We then put them together and worked out a routine to music. They loved this. We all recorded our routine and watched it at lunchtime. We had an amazing lunch again and we also played Dobble and Uno again and all the children liked this although a couple of the mentors were cheating.

After lunch everyone practised their assembly for Oakfield got talent. Bella did roller skating and talked about her confidence to do this which will help her in year 7. Bailey did a comedy act with some jokes that were funny and others that weren’t! All the children did a great job and really showed the audience all the great work they have been doing all week.

Oakfield Summer School1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oakfield Summer School

Day 9 Oakfield Summer School

Today we had a special visitor, Rose McGrandle, a professional skeleton athlete and she will be taking part after break. The energiser in the morning was the hand tennis quarter finals. The mentors teamed up with a partner and analysed the flaws, the things they did well and what they can do better. It was JOSH v LIAM in the final. It came down to 14-14 and Liam finished off with a low throw catching Josh off-guard.

We then moved to the break with games of Uno. As expected, Fletcher finished first then everybody else finished first. We then listened to Rose McGrandle telling us about her experience as a skeleton athlete. She explained how she was selected to become an athlete, what difficulties she had to overcome and she answered questions. Then we played Zombies which required the team to communicate well but due to hyperactivity we failed the challenge (keep the zombie from sitting on the chair)!

Lunch was amazing. We all had wraps and some of us played group Uno whilst others played Dobble.

After lunch the mentors led the “Bench Game”. It requires teamwork and communication. Team “Cricket Cake” gets on one bench and “Choco Chips” gets on another. We then challenge each other to get in order around shoe size, age, etc. Afterwards, the children reviewed the activity analysing what went well and what could have been better.

At the end of the day it was time to plan for the assembly for Friday and everybody took part.
Oakfield Summer School

Day 8 Oakfield Summer School

Today is the 8th day of the summer camp. We didn’t have a S.O.D.A, and we went straight to doing the FUNS challenge to get the children energetic and to be more active.

After many trials and challenges, the children filled in their board according to their finished challenges and set new targets for the next time we do the FUNS challenges. Then we moved onto break with delicious biscuits and drinks. Chloe and Liam started playing Dobble while George and Ben played Uno. During the Dobble match, Giggs and Ellie helped Chloe and eventually, Chloe won! On the other hand, Ben won against George using a quick combo, leaving George raging with frustration.

Afterwards, we were going into the challenges we did yesterday however, we were aiming to achieve a better score or to perform better! Retrying the challenge “Tunnels”, we eventually found the secret to the challenge is to roll it slowly and you will get more points in a short time. Levi and Bella showed resilience during the exchange object challenge even though they both failed the previous 5 tries. Bailey tried his best in every challenge he took part in.

After lunch, the mentors were given the task to lead the children into doing the “Human Knot”. Through communication and teamwork they had to unknot the ‘Human Knot’.

Finally we finished the day with preparation for the talent show at the end of the week by telling people about their talents and why they will be useful for year 7. For example: Bailey likes to make people laugh and make friends so he decided to find jokes on the internet and make the Friday audience laugh. He decided that this will boost his confidence and he can transfer this to make friends in year 7.

Day 2 Oakfield Summer School

The children came in this morning and were really happy and ready to go for the day. As soon as they arrived they were helping each other with their work, finding the right pages that they needed to be on and just generally encouraging each other to do what they needed to do. We took them into the hall and we played Hi Baby. The aim of the game was to get as many high fives as they could in a certain amount of time. This would be challenging for them because this is really the first time that they have had to interact with everyone, not just the people in their group. They all threw themselves into the challenge of getting as many different high fives from as many different people as they could. There were loads of smiles and lots of laughter which showed that they enjoyed the challenge of having to interact.

After break, we took the group to play River Crossing. The aim of the game is to get from one side of the river to the other without letting your feet leave the hoops (stones). This game has 7 different levels ranging from easy to hard. They seemed to really enjoy the challenge and were getting involved in what they were doing.

We took them back and got them to do ‘reverse time shares’. When Ciaran had his turn to have others speak about him, Ulanda said “It was really funny how I fell off you when you gave me a piggy back, but it was ok because we just laughed and carried on”. Ulanda then had to listen to others speak about her and Chloe said “It was really good how she made us all laugh and feel happy when we were taking part in the challenge”.

After lunch the group watched videos about superheroes. This helped to prepare them for when they started to make their own superheroes which we are going to show at the end of the week. They got involved in conversation with each other and really thought about their answers.

Day 3 Oakfield Summer School

The children came in this morning all smiling and ready to go for the day. Everybody was smiling and chatting about the day ahead and were all looking forward to finishing the Super Heroes they made.The pupils filled in the Day 2 box and were all drawing these amazing pictures of what they did on Day 2.

They were all enthusiastic about playing the 123 game, and all set challenges for themselves making the actions to each number a lot harder and all of them overcame that challenge. They  came up with all these different actions and were willing to help any other pairs that were stuck for ideas, and teaching them their action.

It was then break and everyone tucked into the biscuits and drink laid out for them.

After break everyone was up and ready for playing Throw Tennis. All the group got involved and challenged themselves by making it harder or easier if they found it a struggle. Everyone enjoyed it and all had big smiles on their faces whether they won or lost. They wrote their scores onto a flip chart and all want to have finals later on this week.

We went back to  the tables, and discussed what challenged us and how to overcome it. Finn said ” my challenge was to play against Jess”and I overcame it by using tactics”.

After lunch we played the bench game.

We were split into our teams ‘cricket cake’ and ‘chocolate chip’. Everyone worked really well in a team and were all helping each other when moving across the bench. We challenged ourselves by making it harder. For example in team ‘cricket cake’ we decided that Liam was the only person allowed to talk. This was challenging as we weren’t allowed to communicate.

We then came back and started to finish off Super Heroes.

Everyone came up with brilliant ideas of what they could put on their Super Heroes and how it could represent the 6 learning powers. They all took part and taking on different roles of what to add to the Super Hero. Everybody was laughing and smiling and  getting stuck in.

Once they completed their Super Heroes, we started planning for our assembly on Friday. Matt gave us different levels of what to do for the assembly. Both teams chose to challenge themselves by picking the hardest levels. We came up with different ideas for the assembly and everyone put in their best effort. It was  3’oclock, time to go home, but all smiling from what a great day we’d had! 

Day 4 Oakfield Summer School

On Day 4 at Summer School, the children welcomed the new arrival, Fletcher! Liam very kindly explained to Fletcher what he has missed and he caught up very quickly. Finn also helped out Fletcher by remembering 5 out of 6 of the learning powers!

After completing the SODA (start of the day activity) of writing about what they enjoyed and learnt yesterday, the children took part in a game called the human chain, similar to the human knot but involving a hoop. The aim is to pass the hoop around the circle without breaking hands. This took some time to get the hang of because a lot of communication was needed, however one team eventually got their personal time down to 17 seconds which is pretty impressive!

Next, the children were challenged to the nine dot challenge and the reverse pyramid which took a lot of thinking and resilience. The aim of the reverse pyramid was to literally reverse the pyramid in as few moves as possible. After several tries and attempts, some children managed to get this down to three moves. The children then enjoyed a well deserved break which consisted of cups of juice and probably one too many biscuits! Fletcher told Matt that he ‘looked like a sports legend’ which made Matt very happy for the rest of the day.

After break, the children did some self reflection on how to solve problems. Finn suggested  “thinking outside the box” to help him solve the nine dot challenge. They wrote some things down in their booklets which will hopefully  help them out in the future.

After this the children took part in  Throw Tennis which they did yesterday too. This activity went down very well and everyone was laughing and having loads of fun. They had five minute games against their opponent then had one minute to record their scores before playing a new game against someone different.

After the very competitive tennis tournament, the mentors  asked some questions for the children to answer. The mentors stood in areas around the school to which their questions were related. The children had to look for them then answer their questions. The answers were revealed after lunch and the winner was announced!

After lunch, the children took part in  mentor led , ‘domes and dishes’, which prepared them for the array of afternoon activities, including another round of Throw Tennis, and assembly preparation. This energiser also taught the children about the importance of team work and communication within a team.

This game was followed by lots of assembly preparation. From plays to power points, the assembly is set to be spectacular. The parents/carers are in for a real treat!

Day 4 and Day 5 City Heights Summer School

Thursday: Day 4

Fun, fun and more fun had by all the students today, again the students have been buzzing with enthusiasm in all the activities. Domes and Dishes brought out their competitive side as they showed off their new and improved co-ordination, communication and teamwork skills. All Change encouraged the students to strategise, focus and use their social intelligence to complete the set task and adapt quickly following instructions. This afternoon it’s been all go as students have been working on what they are going to perform and present to the parents tomorrow. One day to go.

Friday: Day 5 Our Last Day 🙁

Tired but determined is the feel of the day, lots of energising activities and reflection of how the week has gone and the progress the students feel they have made. Extra preparation and rehearsals ahead of the big event this afternoon. The students, mentors and staff have all had an exciting, fun and challenging week with visible progress of how far the students have come from the beginning of the week. A big thank you to the Create development team from all the students and staff at City Heights Academy.

A fantastic week had by all!

Day 1, 2 and 3 City Heights Summer School

Monday : Day 1

There was a mixture of nerves and excitement as the students entered for their first day of Summer Camp. Supported by the Create Development team and fantastic Year 8 mentors, the students first set personal targets for the week. Energising group activities enabled the students to get to know each other better and challenge themselves. The use of reviews and reflection helped them to think about ways they could improve tasks and push themselves further. By the end of the day the students left buzzing, thinking about the skills – creative, cognitive, personal and social – they would be working on in the week ahead.

Tuesday: Day 2

With curiosity and enthusiasm being the order of the morning, the students entered discussing what activities they thought they would be doing and asking lots of questions about the day. They engaged in feeding back what they had enjoyed from the previous day and what they could do to continue to challenge themselves. The ‘River Crossing’  game was a hit with the students and they identified the skills they needed to be successful as a team and also how they could make the activity more challenging. Excitement continued after lunch as the students focused on attributes they would need to succeed at school. Creative skills were in force as the students had fun creating a superhero they felt represented these attributes. Another fun day!

Wednesday: Day 3

Confident and optimistic students, chatting and smiling, entered on Day 3. Gasps filled the room as the special guest for the day, Olympic athlete Chris Gregory arrived, towering over all the other adults and students. Excitement was at an all time high as the students took part in activities to test their concentration and reaction times. Working well in their teams, the children enjoyed competing against themselves in a challenge to test their grit and determination. Lunchtime, as always, was one of the highlights of the day. In the afternoon the children were all pumped up and rearing to go. Full of energy and with lots of chatting, the students completed learning power super heroes before settling down at the end of the session to watch an iMovie of the day.

A challenging day was had by all!

Day 10 Heathfield Summer School

“The last 2 weeks has been unforgettable and we have met some great people.  We hope we have helped all the pupils and wish themwell both at Heathfield and in later life. As well as having a great time they have developed a range of skills at the Summer School that will help them at secondary school.  Helping the children has been a great opportunity too for the leaders and something we will look back on with a smile.”

Heathfield Summer School

Day 9 Beech Academy Summer School

Activity 1

The day started as every day with the SODA  where old targets were assessed and new ones set. Jonathon said his target was to lead a group discussion and give feedback as to whether the pupils had hit their targets. He told a mentor that at some point he would ask them to come and watch him hit his target. This was good to hear as it showed he was really keen to hit his higher level target. He was pushing himself to be the best he could be and it was great asking the mentor to act as a witness. Nathan’s target was to ask other people how he could improve in a task and he would then give feedback, either backing up or rejecting these suggestions. This showed Nathan acting as a real team player.

Activity 2

The energiser for the day was led by the student mentors. They decided on ‘To Bank or Not to Bank’ as this was a favourite with the children. It was fantastic to see Jonathon meeting his target of being helpful and cooperative by collecting the bean bags after they had been thrown. The activity was led brilliantly by the mentors and the children showed teamwork, encouraging and praising each other.

Activity 3

The ‘Dance Sequence’ involved the tutor groups coming up with a simple routine with four moves that they could perform together in time to music.  Despite some difficulties every group put together a sequence and performed their routine in front of the other groups.  Amy said she normally wouldn’t perform in front of people and found it hard in drama due to her shyness. She said this activity would give her more confidence in drama and when having to make presentations in other subjects. Despite Amy’s group making some mistakes during their routine they persevered and didn’t stop or let this affect the rest of their performance.   Lucy led her group keeping to the beat and the others in her group followed.  Her group saw her as their natural leader and Jack commented how Lucy was a good leader because when he was struggling with one of the moves she decided to make the move easier for him.

At lunch time David asked to sit next to one of the mentors as he said he hadn’t sat next to them for a few days while Amy sat with the other mentors which she hadn’t done before. Good manners were again brilliant with Lucy and Ceryn going around offering the spare sandwiches and with India offering fruit and Jack the drinks. There were many please and thank yous shared among the group, a real improvement and development from the first day.

After lunch the group played its usual game of ‘Capture the Flag’. It was great to see the honesty of the kids admitting to being caught. Ceryn admitting she was not in the safe zone when she had been tagged by Jonathon. When teams were chosen no one complained about not being with their friends and just accepted the decisions.

Activity 4

This activity was a repeat of the baseline assessment activities that were played on Day 1. Straightaway it was evident that the groups had learnt from last time they had played these activities. With the 9 star challenges Ceryn immediately demonstrated her problem solving skills by suggesting they try and connect the 9 stars with 5 lines as this was easiest way to score points. However, Lucy said she wanted to aim for 4 line connection as this was more difficult and would score a lot more points.  On the ‘Drainpipe Challenge’ Amy reminded the group that if they didn’t get low enough the ball would miss the target.  On the ‘Five Cone Challenge’ Ceryn reminded her group how it needed to be completed so they left the majority of the task to Ceryn to ensure they got a lot of points. They helped when she got stuck, kept to their clear roles and it worked a treat. This was a fine example of how far the children had come over the two weeks.

Activity 5

The group practised their presentations for Friday to perform in front of their class, student mentors, adult mentors and family. Video clips for the presentations were recorded and the Jack worked hard on this. Everything he said he related to the many different learning powers and how this would help him especially In KS3.  Every child had a different skill for their presentation and it was fantastic to see them aiming for 4 stars or higher.

Summer School is coming to a close with one more day for so much to be achieved by these amazing children. Targets were set higher than ever before and everybody – the children, student mentors, adult mentors and families – should be incredibly proud of everything they have achieved. The change the kids have gone through is incredible with some unrecognisable from Day 1. It has been a pleasure to see this happen. Every child loved every minute of it and I’m certain they will miss it. The mentors and student mentors were brilliant and achieved so much, I cannot speak highly enough of them.  Summer School has been absolutely amazing for these children and I’m sure it will continue to help them at every school they go to.

Day 9 Heathfield Summer School

The day got off to a great start with the second part of ‘Throw Tennis’! 

We all had a lot of fun playing the game and many of the pupils came up with some awesome strategies. Everyone was getting involved and having a great time! 

Then, after a short interval, we had the quarter finals, semi- finals and finals!

Congratulations to all the players and especially to Henry for winning! 

Heathfield Summer School

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heathfield Summer School

‘real PE’ comes to Shanghai

Following the success of ‘real PE’ in the UK and Middle East, Create Development are excited to announce that Ronnie Heath and John Parsons will be delivering a two-day ‘real PE’ course at Yew Chung International School of Shanghai on the 10th and 11th September 2014.

The course is targeted at teachers delivering PE to either primary or secondary pupils, and the package includes an extensive range of market-leading resources and assessment tools. For more information and booking details click here or on the image below

real PE International – Shanghai Event

Day 3 Heathfield Summer School

Day 3. Off to a great start !! 

Today, we met David Hall, who is a paralympian who could have been a lazy person, but has chosen to live his life, which is a great life. He will always carry on inspiring people and keep encouraging others to follow their dreams, as he done exactly that. Just look at what he has achieved!

We have done a lot of things today like ‘river crossing’ and ‘bank or not to bank’ and a lot of making thinks like our learning Super Heroes. It was a lot of fun and I am looking forward to the next day.

Day 3 St Gregory the Great Summer School

Day 3 has been our best day yet! From the morning activities with energised and perky mentors, to the new lunch time fun, right through to the physical activities in the sports hall. All added up to a fantastic time together!

Our theme was our looking at how we are coping with challenge and the day certainly threw up some great moments for us to work on this particular skill.

Our first activity was to play a new game called ‘tunnel rounders’ and we had a great time. All of us were really involved and we found out quickly from our mentors that were keeping secret stats on us that we were starting to display really great team work and that many of us are able to help our team with praise and support even if we are not directly involved!

After a quick break we played 2 more new games called ‘like clockwork’ and ‘all change’. Both games were good fun and were really energetic too! We were given many different tasks to perform and challenges to try to work towards throughout the games and some of them were really hard but we all tried our best!

Finally we had an afternoon where we were trying to finish off our design for our super hero! We were allowed to select loads of building materials and have now agreed on what our hero will look like and have even started building it with card, bottles, pipe cleaners, paper and loads of other bits too! 

We finished with another amazing iMovie of our day and are now ready for some rest before we look forward to our athlete visitor coming tomorrow

Day 3 Maiden Beech Academy Summer School

The pupils started the day with a SODA session where they reflected on yesterday. They looked at the goals they had set themselves and with the help of their mentors they decided whether they had achieved their target or not. If they felt that they hadn’t, then their target was kept the same but if they felt they had, they were given a new target. Amy said that her target yesterday was to attempt all activities even when faced with difficulties. She and her mentor agreed that this had been achieved so her new target was to smile even when faced with challenges. After the targets had been set the pupils had to discuss why these targets would be important in Key Stage 3. Jack’s target, which was to pay attention, would be helpful to him as he said if he started paying attention in lessons he would learn more easily and quickly and improve his grades.

Activity 1

The first activity was called 123. This activity required pairs with each person taking it in turns to say every other number from 1-3. After each game, pairs would swap. Gradually more rules were added from clapping on number 1 to stomping of feet at number 3. Again as today was aimed at coping with challenges as more rules were added, the pupils made more mistakes. However, some claimed it was easier when actions were added. Jonathon commented that he found it hard saying the numbers in the right order but found it easier to remember the actions. David commented that he enjoyed this activity as his favourite lesson is drama, which involves little warm up activities like this one. He went further to say that in drama lessons he can sometimes get upset if he gets a warm up activity wrong but the activity 123 will help him deal with the disappointment in the future.

Activity 2

This activity was called All Change. This activity involved a lot of ball work and moving around and communicating. Again the activity started off quite simple. The mentors’ aim was to get most people to the complex stage of the activity. Once again more and more rules were added to the activity. The idea was again to make the activity more challenging so the pupils would have to cope with challenges but also to test the listening and understanding of the rules. A great deal of rules were added and the pupils were tested as to how well they could listen, understand and use these. This is clearly reflected in a lot of school life where there are lots of rules for the pupils to follow and how, in every lesson, they are given many different instructions which they have to listen to very closely. By the end of the activity many were in the stretch zone. This is the zone where we learn best so the challenge of the activity seemed to work. By the end of the activity Jonathon was making the challenge harder for himself by making up his own rule that he has to stand on one leg, keep one eye closed and catch the ball one handed. He really wanted to test himself and push himself. He did this without asking. This shows that he is actively seeking challenges all of which will bode well for the challenges in Key Stage 3

Activity 3

This activity was called Cup Grab. A cup was placed between two pupils, each takes it in turn to say “grab” and then it is the first person to grab the cup. The cup is on the floor and the pair starts with their hand behind the back whilst stood. After a few attempts at the game, Ceryn suggested to her partner to use their week hands and see if this makes a difference to how they perform and who wins. This showed some flair and creativity. She wanted to see if changing something would affect the results of the game. This will be extremely helpful in Science and Religious Education where the children are encouraged to question things, try things out and experiment. India also adapted the game without asking. This showed leadership and responsibility. When asked why she did this she said she wanted to try something different to see if it would be more fun. An inquisitive mind again will also be a huge help at school. Jonathan commented that he loves Summer School and wishes School could be like this every day.

Activity 4

This activity is aimed at making a presentation or performance on Friday about the learning powers that each pupil feels they have, or have improved at and why these will be helpful in Key Stage 3. The level of difficulty of this end of the week performance is up to the pupils. The aim was to get the pupils to want to perform a poem, song or drama play about their learning powers. Although some of the pupils seem happy to simply talk about their learning powers some have decided to make plays, songs and poems. David said that he was going to do a drama play as drama is his favourite lesson therefore this will be great practice for Key Stage 3. Amy said she was she wants to perform something that she doesn’t like doing in front of the class, so had decided to do a poem as it is different to what she would normally do and something gets nervous about at school. 

The day ended with the mentors giving out praise postcards to every member of their group, with a special mention about something they have done really well over the last few days. David said he can’t wait to go home and show his mum. The pupils were then shown the I-movie for the day which they all enjoyed. It again showed all the different activities, but different in that this one showed them with their work and their presentations that coming along really well.

It has been another hugely enjoyable day where some of the pupils have really excelled and are taking on lots of responsibilities especially in helping other people. One of these pupils was Jack who is really showing signs of growing into the role. A hugely pleasing thumbs-up moment came from Amy who said to a mentor she was really happy as she had made lots of new friends at the Summer School and this was her main aim before she came. Roll on tomorrow!

"Maiden Beech Academy"

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Maiden Beech Academy"

Day 2 St Gregory The Great Summer School

Our theme for the day was how we can cope with challenges!

Our start of the day activity was to reflect on all the things we did on day 1 and begin to write down the hopes and fears we have for our summer school this year….

We discussed in our groups all of the amazing people that we call heroes and heroines in our lives and many of us even saw our mums and dads as our very own super heroes because they look after us so much!

Our first activity was great fun….we played a numbers game called 1,2,3 and we all got involved….we even had some of our youngest members challenging people that they didn’t know very well at all!

A few groups even managed 4 star moves but if you don’t know summer school you won’t know what that means I guess! We get 4 stars for challenging someone that we don’t know well in the group to a game of something, and inventing a new part to the game that we are willing to show someone else!

Our break times have been good fun and today and lunch (spaghetti bolognese!)

We also now have some more activity time around lunch time which Mr Nicholls and Miss Noonnan have started!

Our afternoon activities were team juggling and river crossing games which challenged our ability to cope with new challenges,as this is something we will get at our new school in September.

We had a great time crossing the river but we nearly lost a few of us to Crocodiles!!

Later in the afternoon we had time to discuss the ‘super powers’ that we will need in September and had to create a pyramid of them too.

Finally we started to plan how we are going to build our Superheroes tomorrow!

Our IMovie has definitely captured our day and thanks to Jade and Jamie our budding filmmakers!

We can’t wait for tomorrow!

St Gregory

 

 

 

 

St Gregory

Day 2 Heathfield Summer School

Day 2 started great! Everyone turned up with a smile and got working straight away. After the book work was completed we went out to see two amazing police horses. The police officers told us a bunch of cool information about the horses and what they do. They even showed us one of the horses galloping, it was awesome! 

After we came in from the field we played a game called ‘Hi baby!’, everyone looked like they were having fun! Hi baby is a game were you walk, run, skip and side skip around an area and ‘high five’ and ‘baby five’ (below the knee) people. 

When we came back from lunch we played the bench game! In the bench game you move up or down the bench according to your your age, height or shoe size! We also introduced rules like no talking and no using certain moves!

We then started building a ‘learning superhero’ with learning powers! All the heroes were brilliant and everyone enjoyed building them! Once the models were finished everyone departed happy with smiles on their faces!

Heathfield Summer School

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heathfield Summer School

Day 4 Maiden Beech Academy Summer School

Activity 1

The Start of the Day recapped on what the children had done the previous day and whether or not they had met their target. They all felt that they had and were very positive.  The mentors explained how the focus would shift from coping with challenge towards solving problems with activities involving creative thinking and teamwork. The children recorded their target for the day.

Activity 2

In “Race Track” the children had to dribble a ball around a difficult course marked out with cones and then split into two teams. Each team had to design their own track and come up with rules. Josh thought the task was too easy, so his mentor asked him to solve the problem by making the course harder. Josh added the rule that the player who could go around the course with the least bounces would win. After the first round Josh noticed that Jack had won by a lot and Daisy put this down to his greater height. On the next round Josh was allowed to jump forward for every bounce of the ball.Problem solved! He said this problem solving would be useful at school as if he found something difficult he could try and find a different way around the problem. Ceryn took creativity further by jumping across the corners of the course thereby saving a few bounces and still keeping within the rules.

Activity 3

The Paralympian swimmer, David ?, arrived and told us he is now training for the triathlon. He has represented Team GB in the Paralympics and in European championships, winning many medals. His next target is the 2016 Rio Paralympics where he hopes to compete in the triathlon. He talked about how he has had to solve many problems in his life due to his disability and how he has had to overcome many problems in both sports. He showed the group tools that he uses to help both in his sport and everyday life. He inspired the children by showing them no matter what the challenge or puzzle it can be overcome. He then challenged the children to design a hand that could help them solve a problem that they might come across. Curtis designed a hand with a penknife, explaining that a penknife has many tools such as a knife, screw driver and bottle opener; therefore, this one tool could help him overcome many difficulties. India, Daisy, Curtis and Jack all said how this task would help them in DT, where they are often given a problem, have to think of a solution, design and produce a product.

Activity 4

In the “Hoop Challenge” the children were split into 2 teams. Each team had to get all its members to pass through a hoop as quickly as possible to beat the other team. They were given time to discuss how they could do it. David took on the role of leader and came up with an idea which worked brilliantly. The other group had seen what David had come up with and copied his basic idea and then changed it slightly to create their own unique solution. 

Activity 5

With the “Drain Pipe Challenge” the children had to transfer a golf ball via a drainpipe from one end of the play area to the other with the golf ball being deposited into a small cup on the floor.  The group often managed to get the ball to the cup only to find that when they tried to pour the ball into the cup it would miss. Ceryn thought rightly they were trying to drop the ball from too great a height and that the pipe needed to be closer to the cup. She said this activity would again be helpful in DT lessons as they sometimes have to achieve a target. She said the fact that she could recognise what they were doing wrong would be helpful when designs and constructions have to be altered or changed. She said it would also encourage her in lessons to pre-plan instead of diving straight in. Josh backed her up by saying if you take time to discuss and plan then the chances of success are a lot higher.

Activity 6

Forty playing cards were laid out on the floor. The mentor explained how he was going to give the whole group 5 minutes to study the cards and  was then going to turn them face down and point at 5 cards and see if the group could remember what they were. India straightaway noticed the 40 cards were split into 10 rows of 4 and explained that each of the 10 learners only had to remember a row each. The group got the 5 cards right and India was really pleased as she said Maths wasn’t her strongest subject. She felt this would give her confidence in Maths lessons and even when she thinks she is stuck she would try and find a solution to the problem. She also said how it was great everybody listened and followed her instructions as she is usually very quiet and not many people listen to what she has to say. She would now have a bit more confidence to speak her mind and try to get involved when there’s groupwork.

Activity 7

The last session was spent with the children working on their performances for Friday. It was great to hear them asking the mentors how they could get 4 or 5 stars. Josh was especially keen to get 5 stars and came up with many ideas to achieve this. It was brilliant to see all the children pushing themselves out of their comfort zones with many choosing to perform plays and songs, something many would not usually feel comfortable doing.

It was another great day with the group practicing really hard for their performances, and so full we had to postpone the I-movie of the day.

Maiden Beech Summer School

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maiden Beech Summer School

Day 9 Haltwhistle Summer School

Our focus today was self-reflection.

Following on from yesterday we completed the pupil led activities. Using these as a basis for self-reflection, we spent a lot of time establishing where we were in our learning, what progress we’ve made since the beginning of summer school and setting ourselves targets.

Learner of the day has to go to a pupil who created and led a superb creative activity that involved collecting items from outside and using them to create a picture depicting nature. Not only did she introduce the activity to the whole summer school but chose to judge the pictures and award certificates and prizes she had made herself!

A special mention for James who commanded everyone’s attention when explaining his activity.

Last day tomorrow!

Day 1 St Gregory the Great Summer School

The first ever Summer School at St Gregory the Great in Oxford!

Twenty Year 7 learners arrived looking very nervous at 10am but after being greeted by the friendly mentors they soon relaxed and began to enjoy themselves.

The day started off with a chat about their expectations for Summer School with fun being the most popular word used by all the groups. We also talked about it being okay to make mistakes as that was a good way to learn how to do things better.

The mentors then led the learners through a discussion on their hopes and hurdles for secondary school. Making new friends was top of the list of hopes with the most common hurdle being afraid of getting lost in such a big place. Other hurdles were being bullied and forgetting to bring the right books and equipment for the different classes. All our friendly mentors did a great job of reassuring the learners that they would make lots of friends and soon find their way around.

To get everyone really in the mood to learn we took part in a fun activity called ‘Good Morning’ where we had to learn a sequence of 8 moves to do with a partner. More challenges followed which allowed us to meet more learners and mentors as well as the chance to be creative and make lots of mistakes!

Soon it was break time and we found our way to the canteen for drinks and cookies. Next it was onto a game of Rock Paper Scissors the likes of which the learners had never seen before. Lots of great shapes, great sportsmanship and communication, as well as some silly dancing, followed until we finally had two players left each with a giant conga train supporting them.

All the learners agreed that lunch was better at secondary school than primary. Once they had escaped from a giant human knot formed over lunchtime, the learners took on four team challenges which tested their thinking, physical and teamwork powers. They enjoyed working together to complete the challenges and sharing ideas of how they could improve as a team. Mentor Sophie became Crazy Sophie to add to the fun while the cone challenge drove everyone a little mad.

The mentors did a review of the challenge activities using ‘Roles on the Bus’ which included some singing. The day ended with an awesome iMovie made by Jamie and Matt.

Mentors Jade and Georgia even got some hugs goodbye!

From a nervous beginning to a fantastic end of day one! St Gregory’s is certainly going to be great when these year 7s arrive! More to follow tomorrow!

St Gregory

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

St Gregory

Day 1 Heathfield Summer School

First of all, we met everyone and put ourselves in groups! This was exciting because we all are in groups with people we don’t know so we’ve already made lots of new friends! Then we went on to the field and met some police dogs! They were called Quin, Zena and Ria. They were all police dogs but could do different things like find money or people.

After that, we did the ‘good morning’ game! This was very fun because we all got to make up our own moves, this helped us to be more creative and also to interact with our partners!

It was challenging at some points because we made mistakes but everyone was willing to have a go and join in!

Then, we played ‘rock, paper, scissors’! This was fun because we all interacted with people we have never met before and made new friends. Also, we communicated to add our ideas of how to change the game which made it more interesting and challenging but everyone added their ideas!

After lunch, we played human knot! This was very challenging and difficult but we used a lot of team work which helped us with this activity!

Then we played a range of games in our teams which helped us communicate and use team work to get our teams points!

heathfield

 

 

 

 

 

 

heathfield4

 

 

 

 

 

 

heathfield4

Day 2 Maiden Beech Academy Summer School

The day started with the pupils reflecting on day 1. They said what their favourite activities were and how the activities would help them moving into Key Stage 3. Lucy said that the extreme Rock Paper Scissors, which encouraged sportsmanship, would help her because she plans to play in more lunch time sports clubs in Key Stage 3. Jack said he enjoyed the circuit activities where team work was important. He said this would help him next year when he moves into his new class, he will be able to make friends easier and work with others more effectively. This will also help him in all his school lessons. Everyone said something in front of the rest of the group. Questions were asked by others to get deeper thinking and understanding of why we do something and how it is going to help moving into Key Stage 3. These questions and answers were lead brilliantly by the student mentors. This activity used the cognitive cog as there was a lot of self reflection being used. Self reflection is an important part of many school lessons as pupils often have to self evaluate their work or comment on how others have worked.

Activity 1

The first activity was designed to help the pupils learn how to cope with challenge and not to give up but to be persistent and to keep trying. The activity started off quite simple but more and more rules were added to make the activity more challenging. To encourage reflection, questions were asked as to why it is important to cope with challenges. Daisy commented that Key Stage 3 will be more difficult as more will be expected of them. The work will be harder and teachers will have higher expectations as to what the pupils can achieve, therefore the work will be more challenging. She said it is important to learn to cope with these challenges and not give up if it becomes difficult. She also commented that challenges will occur in every school subject at some point. Jonathan commented how there will be more challenges in Key Stage 3 straight away as the classes are changing, friends may be split up and you will have to work with people you don’t normally work with. The pupils then filled in the coping with challenges section of their booklet. They levelled themselves then discussed with their mentor how they could improve. Again the pupils used a great deal of self reflection in this task.

Activity 2

The second activity was crossing the hall using a range of items without touching the floor. At first the pupils tried to get across quickly and easily. However, gradually the items used to get across were made harder. Each group had to decide how they were going to make the crossing harder. The idea was to encourage coping with challenge. Mistakes were also encouraged. David commented that people learn from their mistakes and often the best way to learn is by giving someone a go at getting it wrong and then trying again. Lucy said how in Key Stage 3 they will have more challenges to deal and cope with and through experiencing challenge at the summer school and through coping with these challenges they will find it easier next year. They will know how to deal with challenges be it on their own or when working in a group. This activity helped with creative thinking as the pupils had to decide how they would make the game more challenging – it was completely up to them. There was also an element of problem solving as they had to figure out how to make the game more challenging. The social cog was also used as they had to discuss their ideas with each other and then come to an agreement as to which ideas they are going to use. There was team work, cooperation and learning with others. The personal cog was also used because there were challenges, mistakes and failures to cope with.

Activity 3

The final activity of the day involved the pupils having to pick out 6 learning powers they think they need to be successful in Key Stage 3. This involved thinking of all of the cogs. It could be the need to be more creative in lessons or having self belief to think they can complete a task without help. They then had to design and make a superhero showing these learning powers.

Just before the pupils left they watched their daily I-movie which shows pictures and clips of everything they have done over the course of the day in a cool movie trailer. It is a bit of fun but reminds them of the activities they have done during the day and helps them reflect on everything they have learnt and achieved.

It has been a great first couple days where the pupils have already showed signs of improvement in many of the cogs. Looking forward to tomorrow where the pupils will continue to learn to cope with further challenges.

Maiden beech

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maiden beech2

Day 3 Theale Green Summer School

Start of the day

Everyone came in and filled in the diary entry for Day 2 and the solving problems pages. The mentors discussed with the learners how they were and asked them if they had a lot of fun on Day 2.  We played an energiser game called ‘Team Juggling’ which everyone enjoyed. Then everyone sat down to watch the iMovie made by Georgia yesterday and we were introduced to the focus of the day – learning with others, something really important for being successful at secondary school! The mentors shared with the learners that they work with different people in nearly every lesson – pairs, groups and whole class projects! The mentors then discussed what it would look like if we were successfully working and learning with others, for example working with people we don’t usually work with, praising each other, giving clear instructions, showing patience, giving feedback and staying on task.

Morning Challenge

To bring the focus of today alive, we played the ‘Shepherd Game’.  The learners had to guide each other around an obstacle course; one being the shepherd and the other being the sheep. The biggest challenge was the sheep being blind-folded so needing good, clear, accurate instructions. The learners shared ideas on how to give good instructions and also how to stay patient when they got frustrated. The game got more challenging with obstacles and challenges being introduced meaning the shepherds had to apply what they had learnt from others. The final challenges were for learners to work with someone they haven’t done so far on summer school and then work in a group of 4……3 shepherds having to work together! Everyone enjoyed themselves and had a lot of fun.

Afternoon activity

After lunch the mentors led bench games outside in the shade with the learners standing on benches and working as a team to line themselves up in order depending on the challenge, e.g. alphabetical name order, height order, birthday dates and plenty more. Afterwards the mentors worked with the learners to review the morning’s learning, charting their progress and evidence in their pupil booklets.

Next we were told that on Friday there is a celebration assembly for the achievements at summer school. Parents/carers are invited to come and there is going to be a special guest!! The learners had some choices to make ~ 1 star – demonstrate what they have learnt at summer school; 2 stars – what learning powers they need to be successful at Theale Green; 3 stars – describe and show their learning champion and how their powers will help them be successful learners; 4 star – a drama performance, poem or dance to showcase their learning powers; 5 star – the X factor! We already have poems and songs being written, models being built and performances being planned! It was great that the learners got to apply all their learning from the week into the afternoon – learning with others, creative thinking and challenging themselves!

End of day

A final review with the mentors and then the day’s iMovie finished the day off!

Student quotes…..

Harvey said “Because of summer school I have become more patient at home”

Jack said “I have enjoyed making new friends as I am the only one coming from my school”

Charlotte said: I’ve learnt how to listen to instructions better”

Myah said: “Today I worked with someone I wouldn’t normally work with”

Matthew said: “I praised people a lot more today.”

Day 4 Lymm High Summer School

Today started with excitement as we were told that an athlete mentor was coming in. We weren’t disappointed when Courtney Fry, the boxer, was there joining in our morning energiser.  We created an 8 move sequence to welcome him to Lymm High School, which he joined in.

After this we reviewed our learning from yesterday’s focus of creative thinking and completed our pupil booklets with the help from our mentors.  Courtney then gave a presentation of his childhood and how he went on to be a successful champion winning gold at the commonwealth games.  He even showed us his medal!  We were given the opportunity to ask questions such as how he copes with challenge and it was really interesting to hear his responses.

In the afternoon he asked us the question whether we were passionate about a plastic cup??? We all answered ‘no’….then we played a game which involved developing our reaction time by trying to grab the cup before our partner.  By the end of the game we were doing everything to make sure we had the cup in our hand!

The day finished off with us making our final adjustments to our super heroes ready for tomorrow’s celebration assembly.  We are all looking forward to presenting our poem/rap to achieve 4/5 star to everybody tomorrow.

Famous 7 superstar

Day 2 Lymm High Summer School

Team KFC

Today was all about coping with challenges and how we can stretch ourselves.  We really enjoyed the ‘crossing the river’ activity, especially when we were given a blindfold.  This was challenging but very fun at the same time.  We all worked well together and this allowed us to excel in lots of challenges.

Team KFC are the best.

Team KFC

Day 1 and Day 2 Wexham Summer School

Day 1-

A Challenging Day for all Tutors, Mentors and pupils adapting and adjusting to new surroundings and people, but fun was had by all. Learning new names and faces was an early challenge. ‘Rock Paper Scissors’ (extreme of course) was on the agenda with all pupils tasting some success and with an afternoon of memory games and team building exercise it left Jahiem wanting more “I cant wait to come back tomorrow”.

Day 2-

Today saw the introduction of more new faces, both pupils and mentors. ‘Coping with challenge’ was our topic with the aim of getting all involved which we all achieved, taking part in ‘River Crossing’, ‘Hi Baby’ and building our very own superhero, recognising the powers we need in order to cope with challenges we may face in our new school. “Mine has a big mouth as I will need to talk a lot to understand what I need to do and where I need to go” Affan.

Wrexham Summer School

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Wrexham Summer School

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wrexham Summer School

Day 8 Haltwhistle Summer School

We’ve been reviewing our learning today, identifying what went well in our presentation of activities and how we might make improvements. 

After reflecting on Day 7 and doing an energiser, we created our own problem solving activities and challenges.

We then had great fun trying out each other’s activities then, as a group, reviewing them and how we presented them!

Lee gets the special mention of the day for giving a clear but detailed explanation as well as holding everyone’s attention when celebrating individual and group success.

Well done to everyone for designing some great activities and embracing challenge.

Haltwhistle Summer School 8

 

 

 

 

 

Haltwhistle Summer School 8.2

Day 2 Theale Green Summer School

Start of the day
This morning all of the learners came in and wrote a diary of what they did and learnt on Day 1.  Everyone said they enjoyed the day and some said they had done the activities at home with their families – which shows they really enjoyed their day!

They all reviewed and then completed the section in their pupil booklets on yesterday’s learning focus – coping with challenge. They reviewed themselves using ‘rarely-sometimes-always’ as to how well they joined in, kept going and challenged themselves……and they had to explain why. After the learners had finished writing in their books they chatted together and got to know their new friends. We also had a new member in the mentor team today called Kiana and a new student called Brandon.

Morning Challenge
The focus of today is creative thinking, especially solving problems, something you need at secondary school. We played a game called ‘Hi Baby’ which involved going onto the school field to do a team activity. During the game the pupils had to work with their friends and challenge themselves to think in different ways to solve challenges. When we came back upstairs the mentors shared examples of when they have to solve problems at school and the groups started to agree what success would like today – sharing ideas by speaking up, listening to each other, building on others’ suggestions and clarifying the problem for deeper understanding.

We then went back outside and put the learning focus into action! The learners had to get over the river (space between cones) without touching the grass using some equipment, making their way between the sets of cones in small teams. The mentors scored the teams using ‘secret stats’, looking for examples of where the learners were offering ideas, building on others’ ideas of finding new ways of being successful. All the teams scored very high points and everyone had huge smiles on their faces as they got through the challenges. The best challenge was when the learners went against the mentors!

Afternoon activity
The mentors led an energiser after lunch called ‘Team Juggle’, another chance for the learners to show their ability to solve problems. They had to create a continuous sequence of passing a ball around their team without passing it to their left or right or touching the ball twice! It was tricky but nearly all teams unlocked new challenges. 

The learners then transferred their creative thinking skills to design and build a learning champion that shows their 6 learning powers. 

End of the day
The mentors did a final review with the learners about their creative thinking skills and watched the awesome iMovie of the day!

Kiana – Learning Mentor

Theale Green Summer School

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Theale Green Summer School 2

Day 7 Haltwhistle Summer School

We’ve been learning with others today.

After an Energiser called Click where groups of 3 or 4 had to step over a rope in synch everyone went into the hall and completed the second round of the Learn to Compete circuit. Everyone made excellent progress helped by practising usingFUNS cards and by each other.

The day ended with working with each other to refine the Shape Up routines.

We think Mathew and Aaron were the best learners because they took part in all of the activites and encouraged others to get better.

Lee gets a special mention for taking a lead in his group.

Kyle and Shane – Year 7

Haltwhistle Summer School

Haltwhistle Summer School

Day 1 Theale Green Summer School

Coping with Challenge

Start of the day
This morning we greeted the learners at the door with smiles on our faces and our inner ‘Tiggers’ unleashed! After some introductions we sat down and got started with the ‘marvellous me’ activity in the Summer School Pupil Booklet.

We helped the learners write about their hopes and hurdles when they come to Theale Green in September. Making new friends was top of everyone’s list! The hurdles included finding their way around a big new school and having lots of different teachers.

Morning Challenge
After the start of the day activity we worked with the learners to agree and write down our expectations for the week – smile, have fun, try your hardest, listen to others and show others you care all made the list.

We then challenged the learners to say good morning with another pupil in the most amazing way. They all did brilliantly! The focus for today was to cope with new challenges and this game was certainly challenging – lots of mistakes were made, but everyone kept going.

Today we challenged the learners to get involved in all the activities, make mistakes and keep going and challenging them to get stuck! After a fun-filled first half of the morning we all sat down for a break.

After everyone gained some energy back we went to the hall and played Extreme Rock Paper Scissors. We all played a fantastic game where we had to play with different people, make mistakes, keep going and have fun! The semi-finalists were chosen by the teachers for showing that they could cope with challenges. This was brilliantly demonstrated by the behaviours we discussed. The grand final was between Myah and Jack…..Jack won.

Afternoon activity
After a yummy lunch (and a singing happy birthday to a pupil who turned 11 today), we led an energiser called the Human Knot – a great getting to know you game for the learners whilst also challenging them to make mistakes and keep going.

We then spent some time exploring what learning powers we all need to be successful at Theale Green. The learners used flash cards to decide their top 6 – communication, resilience, problem solving, learning from others, adapting and adjusting and confidence were the most popular powers.

The learners then took on the extreme learning challenge, a set of physical, thinking and teamwork based activities to put their learning powers to the test in action! They really enjoyed working together and having to communicate to be successful.

End of day
We helped the learners review the day’s activities and learning, asking questions about how they coped with new challenges, something they need to do lots at secondary school.

We finished off by watching an awesome iMovie of the day that showed all the exciting activities we did today.

Matthew – “I enjoyed everything that happened today!”

Ellie – “I enjoyed that we had mentors to help us and that we are not on our own!”

Theale Green 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Theale Green 2

Day 5 Haltwhistle summer school

 The focus of today was problem solving.

Various problem solving games were played today including River Crossing where you had to get across a area by standing on spots (stepping stones) carrying equipment. Also, Sheperd, a game involving a Sheperd (one person) using non verbal instructions to guide sheep (team members) into a pen (marked area).

All of the activities we’re enjoyed today, everyone joined in and helped their team.

Best learner
Ben was the best learner of day 5 because he solved the problems in 2 challenges and encouraged his team mates.

Most special mentions
Aaron should get a special mention because he took charge of his group and helped them get across the river.

Other comments
We would like to thank all mentors and to congratulate all pupils and mentors for taking part.

Thanks for all the fun Lesley & Miss Bonner. Archie and Kyle – Year 7

Haltwhistle summer school

 

Day 4 Haltwhistle Summer School

Great day, today, with former paralympian Craig McCann. The focus of the day was ‘Problem Solving’ which Craig reflected in his talk to the children about his life and the problems he has faced and how he overcame them to arrive at this point in his life. The children, without doubt, enjoyed most the physical challenges that he set for them, though. He lead them through such games as ‘Zombie’ and ‘Line Up’ a game involving a team standing on a bench and having to rearrange themselves in different orders such as height, birthdate etc. without touching the floor!. He also played versions of Create’s own games ‘Team Juggling’ and ‘To Bank or Not to Bank’ which they excelled at using their problem solving skills. Badges of honour today were awarded to Caitlin for contributing ideas (a first and big step for her) and Curtis (for continued effort and teamwork). Thanks Craig and good luck in your new chosen sport of cycling!

Haltwhistle Summer School 3

Haltwhistle Summer School 2             Haltwhistle Summer School 1