1. Sample Improvements – Physical Education

All of the following sample improvements were taken from the application forms of PRIMARY schools that have already achieved the ASF. They provide an excellent source of practical ideas for schools wishing to work towards ASF status. The ASF does not endorse any of the products/programmes referenced in the sample improvements.

1.1 PE – PLANNING and CURRICULUMRelevant to Success Criteria
The school now has an overall PE timetable ensuring that every class has 1 hour of timetabled PE per week. Free time slots are also shown on the timetable allowing teachers to make use of the hall for discretionary time.1
The school now teaches PE as 2 x 30 minute classes as opposed to in a 1 hour block, thus allowing pupils to be active on two separate occasions during the week.1
All teachers are timetabled in the halla for 1 ½ hours per week. Teachers use the extra 30 minutes on a regular basis to provide additional physical activities opportunities for pupils.1
The school introduced a standardised PE timetable. Teachers teach the same PE strand at the same time every month thus facilitating the set-up of equipment and providing them with the opportunity to share ideas and resources with one another
Children with special needs receive additional individual PE time with their SNA to help to improve their mobility, co-ordination and confidence.1
The staff devised a new PE plan which was ratified by the BOM. The process of devising the new PEpolicy was heavily connected to the devising of a PE improvement plan for School Self-Evaluation process. While writing the PE plan, it was decided to state the requirements of the PE curriculum for class level in a clear and clear and concise way using a grid format. We also made specific lists of dances to be learned, game skills to be learned etc. for every class level2
The Professional Collaborative Review (PCR) programme was set up in our school in which we observed other teachers teaching various subjects. One of these subjects was PE and this proved very successful for teachers. We learned new ways to teach the PE different strands along with ideas for warm-ups and cool-downs. This certainly encouraged the teachers towards teaching PE and generated a sense of enthusiasm and confidence among teachers also.2
Staff Survey – At the start of the ASF process we carried out a staff survey. This revealed hidden talentsamongst the teaching and resource staff. As a result we have commenced a system of team teaching, sharing our skills across the PE strands. This has strengthened our delivery of the PE curriculum considerably2
During the last 12 months, PE has definitely been more prominent at meetings. The school now has Curriculum Steering Committees in order to help teachers plan and offer new initiatives. Committee members normally gather together for a brief period at the end of every staff meeting. The PE/ASF committee has found this planning and brainstorming time very effective.2
Playground Game of the Week – Teachers decide upon a different playground game every two weeks which they teach as part of their PE lesson. Pupils are encouraged to play this game with their friends during their break times. Classrooms with windows onto the yard will have diagrams and instructions about how to play the Game of the Week.2
The principal ordered staff PE t-shirts with the school crest. Teachers now wear these on the days that they have PE. This has encouraged teachers to participate in the lessons in a more active way.2
It is school policy that teachers remain in the hall/yard at all times when coaches are present and actively assist the coach as far as possible. This offers teachers the opportunity to up skill across a number of different activities. The relevant pages of the PE curriculum and the 7 Key Messages of the Primary PE Curriculum have been given to all visiting coaches. We also make sure that in advance coaches are made aware of children with special needs so that they can adapt their activities.2
The school now adopts a more structured approach to PE planning especially regarding the time allotted to each of the PE strands. Previously we were over concentrating on games and athletics at the expense of dance and gymnastics. All class teachers have now agreed to allot equal time to each of the six strands and the school PE timetable has been re-structured accordingly.3
The PE yearly plan is now on display in every classroom ensuring that pupils know what strand will be taught every month. The Seven Key Messages of the PE curriculum are displayed side by side with it.3
As a staff we agreed upon certain specified months to teach certain PE strands. We felt it would help if classes were doing the same thing at the same time, particularly for sharing resources and setting out equipment. We set November aside for Dance, February for Gymnastics and May for Outdoor Adventure. This seemed to work quite well and ensured that all classes covered 5 different PE strands.3
This year, as part of the ASF initiative, teachers were asked to complete a short survey in order to highlight areas in the PE curriculum which required greater focus and attention. Based on the results of this survey, we decided to select the strand gymnastics for development this year. Each teacher was asked to complete the strand by the month of April. Each class grouping Juniors/Seniors, 1st/2nd, 3rd/4th and 5th/6th then demonstrated their newly learned skills to each other at assemblies.3
Some teachers felt ‘apprehensive’ about teaching gymnastics so the PE co-ordinator put together a 4 week programme of lessons for each year group. In-class support and/or team-teaching were provided if requested. This worked very well and a resource pack was compiled for teachers to use in the future3
The gymnastics strand was a huge success this year because of a whole school approach. All staff agreed on a particular month for gymnastics to be taught. Our gymnastics equipment including new benches, climbing frame, ladders and a horse were left in the hall for the entire month which enabled teachers to use the equipment freely.3
To encourage Outdoor and Adventure activities an orienteering session was timetabled for each class during Active School Week. The PE co-ordinator designed and distributed an orienteering resource pack (specific to the school) to all teachers and provided lesson demonstrations as required.3
The ASF co-ordinator joined the IPPEA. He completed a one day course on Outdoor Adventure Activities in Carlingford Adventure Centre in March. The following Wednesday, a staff meeting was used to demonstrate some of the activities that had been done on the course, so that all staff would benefit.3
The Outdoor and Adventure Activity strand was picked as an area to develop. The ASF coordinator developed resource boxes and folders for every class to ensure access for all children to this strand and was freed up to give class demonstrations if requested. The folders contained hard copies of the relevant PSSI lesson plans and the resources necessary to deliver each lesson.3
We prioritised the Outdoor and Adventure strand for further development. We bought a class set of compasses so children have a least one compass between every two for class activities. We set up trails around the school campus for different class groups. We also introduced ‘off premises’ orienteering for 6th class in the local park.3
All teachers completed a mini-survey. Results confirmed that the Outdoor & Adventure Strand was the strand teachers felt they were least confident teaching. On this basis PDST advisor for health & wellbeing was contacted. She visited the school and modelled outdoor & adventure lessons with two classes from each stream with the teachers present. She also gave the whole staff an O&A workshop during our CP hour. A resource pack featuring all the games modelled was distributed to each class teacher afterwards.3
The school now organises the games strand of PE and extra-curricular games on a mini games basis. The rules of some sports are adapted to encourage greater participation by all3
The school now teaches the inclusive sports of boccia and goal ball as part of the games strand3
The school now teaches the land based Primary Aquatics Safety Programme from Irish Water Safety to support the Aquatics strand. The ASF coordinator downloaded the LAND PAWS syllabus from the ASF website and ordered resources (free of charge) from Irish Water Safety. Teachers taught the Land PAWS programme to the classes that weren’t going to the swimming pool.3
Teachers have agreed to prioritise one PE strand for further development each year. This year we selected Dance. Hard copies of the PSSI lesson plans were photocopied and collated to assist teachers with their planning for dance.3