NEW POST: Learning Passport to success – KS3 theory

Since I have been in my current school (nearly 9 years) we have developed how we teach and deliever the theory components of a healthy and active lifestyle. Supported and endorsed by our county advisor (shared around the area as good practice) we developed a theory homework book for students to complete. However, it was difficult to track as the book was taken home by students and sometimes the ‘dog ate the booklet’. What was the impact? We’re we developing the theory aspects?

We wanted to develop the students theory knowledge base. It was important to us that our students not only could exercise well, but knew and understood the theory aspects of doing so. Components of fitness, heart rates, training zones, diet, the structure of the Skelton, aerobic and anaerobic respiration were just some of the things we felt as a department that our students should know. Lots of what we wanted to help students further understand was being taught in other subjects, such as science. 

We developed themes that we would teach across half terms all throughout ks3. We still teach our practical topics and all the aspects that go with that, but we wanted to develop the theory aspect through the practical theme. It is my belief, and as a school, we are all teachers of literacy. We did this very well verbally but PE departments, in my opinion, are very powerful. We have the ability to inspire and build relationships with those students who find other areas of school too difficult. We decided therefore, we should help develop our students written ability as well as their verbal.

It was important to us we made the booklets straight forward, not too much work where we would lose valuable practical time or put the students off PE. I was also keen not to create too much extra work for my team. Feedback received so far from various sources is overwhelmingly positive.

I must add here, that this works for us – it does not mean it would work for your students, school or yourself.

The booklet, based on the GCSE spec, would also build valuable theory knowledge toward the GCSE exam. This supported further students who would take GCSE PE. Currently, we are considering that all students at the school will do some sort of qualification through their PE lessons, and this system will support this process. Our students will leave the school not only being active, knowing and understanding the impact physical activity has on the body and mind, but with a recognised qualification too.

Once or twice a half term we would use these booklets with our KS3 groups. The rest of the half term we develop the knowledge and understanding then we provide the time to complete the relevant page in the book. It takes around 20 minutes maximum for this to happen (we have 60minute lessons x4 a fortnight). 

Students know when we will complete the page and arrive, changed at the lesson, with their pen. We can discuss the topic with some great feedback and then complete the page. The written aspect is important to us. It develops the PEAL technique, used across the school and other subjects. It improves the students written skills and allows us to support the literacy focus across the school. 

20 minutes a fortnight spent on these books seems like a good pay off to us. The answers we are getting from our youngsters are brilliant. As already mentioned, feedback from students is very positive. Students who perhaps did not see PE as an area they could excel in for various reasons are able to improve their self-esteem and opinion of PE by improving their theory knowledge of the subject.

I produced the original booklets which have now been developed by a member of my team in to the booklets we now use (these are the pictures that I am sharing with you now).

We made the feedback sheet to be time saving yet specific to the outcome the student had produced. Again, with a clear focus on literacy. Next time we revisit these books ( sometime during this half term) students will complete their DIRT before completing the next topic. This may be 20 minutes in November and then 20 minutes in December. Whilst you can argue this eats in to practical time, we believe and feel this is the right approach for our students. We have the balance just right for developing effective, knowledgable and physically active and healthy young people.

We are very pleased with where we currently are with our theory and practical work and hope to further develop in the future. 

If you would like to know more about this or have a question, please feel free to contact me.


Building blocks of the year

I am not sure how you view your academic year, but for me, the first 2 terms are absolutely key (I split the 3 terms into 6 half terms – manageable chunks I suppose).

For year 11, the first 2 terms are the building blocks before an effeective and energy sapping sprint toward May. This year we have a few plans on how to make this ‘sprint’ better organised and have a clear strategy. One focus for myself is for white, British, working class boys – as they are the most underperforming group nationally.

For year 7, the first 2 terms are incredibly important. To settle in, make new friends, set expectations and build relationships with parents. We value relationships with our parents extremely highly and always try to involve the parents with our decisions about the direction of the school. If an ongoing issue arises, we always invite the parents into discuss this. I really like this as a secondary school- very personal.

For year 10, it’s the real start of the official GCSE (I teach the GCSE spec from year 7 onward in lessons anyway – you would be bonkers not too wouldn’t you?). Set the right foundations now, routines, expectations, important deadline dates and I always find that the KS4 years run relatively smoothly (famous last words probably).

Year 9 is important at our school. The students will choose options at the end of term 2. They have internal assessments in the beginning of term 2 as well. Some big decisions need to be made for these students so it is very important we provide the correct and most appropriate information for the students, and parents during this term. 

I love teaching the year 8. For me, it’s really the beginning of the ‘real’ GCSE curriculum. These students have settled in to the school and there is always a danger that these students have a ‘missing year’- not in my subject. We start to crack up the expectations again and we often find that the vast majority of students respond. In fact, the first 7 weeks this year have seen the year 8 I teach really start to stretch themselves. Behaviour, independent learning and clear focus in lessons has improved allowing the progress within these lessons to increase too. 

Overall, its been a good start to this academic year. After last years record breaking results as a school, we need to maintain a the momentum. With our great staff and students, I am sure we can have another successful year.

In addition, we have some very exciting changes afoot, especially in Teaching and Learning. And we all know, if we get this correct, then results will further improve as well as further developing a talented staff.