PE Sport and Physical Activity in Scotland and beyond

Archive for August, 2007

Alternative Activities For PE

Posted by drilly on August 28, 2007

One message that seems to be coming through loud and clear is that we can no longer continue to offer pupils a PE curriculum that consists solely of traditional team games. We need to offer pupils a wide variety of activities in addition to these games that caters for the diverse range of interests of pupils. Perhaps the “sports inventors” take it a stage too far though! Enjoy the clip.

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Office of the Future a Healthy Prospect

Posted by drilly on August 28, 2007

levine-05-lg.jpgThis  is a NEAT (Non-exercise Activity Thermogenesis) idea. The Mayo Clinic has developed the office of the future complete with treadmills that serve as both desks and computer platforms and a two-lane walking track that serves as a meeting room. I just haven’t quite figured out where they keep the chocolate digestives and coffee during meetings!





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Scottish National PE Conference

Posted by drilly on August 24, 2007

p_e-image_tcm4-387081.jpgIts official the second national PE conference will be held on the 19th of December 2007 at Stirling University and Management Centre. More details will be posted here in due course and on the LTS PE website.

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A PE Association for Scotland

Posted by drilly on August 22, 2007

We are in the unfortunate position in Scotland of having  limited representation and no national voice for our subject. The demise of the Scottish PE association has left us in limbo. In the absence of such a body SLANOPE is the only organisation with any sort of national profile and has soldiered on with limited resources and limited political weight. This is by no means a slight on SLANOPE as it was never really concieved to be a national voice for the PE profession it evolved from the demise of the PE Advisers Association to continue to provide support to the local authorities.

There are however moves afoot to to develop a Scottish affiliation to afPE and have access to all the resources, quarterly publications and support this association provides to its members in England. There is also no doubt that they also have a powerful political voice in England which we do not have in Scotland.


Is this a positive move worth supporting? The Scottish PE profession will have the opportunity to consider this in the coming months with a series of regional presentations planned around the country. The best part of this is it will be the PE teachers in Scotland themselves who will determine whether this happens or not as without the support of a paying membership the Scottish association cannot exist. Get on to the afPE website and attend one of the regional events to find out more. I will post more information when I receive it.

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Sports Academies in Scotland

Posted by drilly on August 21, 2007

“SCOTLAND needs to set up six elite sports academies to train the medal winners of the future, the head of a government-funded think tank said last night.”

An interesting article in the Scotland on Sunday about a report presented to the Executive that outlines plans, which would see sport academies established on the site of existing schools in six major conurbations across the country.

A second article in the same paper provides a further insight.

Graham Watson from the Scottish Institute of SportIf we study the British medal winners, they come overwhelmingly from private schools. ” This threw up a couple of questions in my mind is the same true of Scottish medal winners and are we talking about all elite competitions and sports or just the Olympics and Commonwealth games? However further light is shed on this in the second article

It’s an anomaly that exists, that a disproportionate number of kids from private schools represent national teams and win medals at major championships. It’s a very complicated issue, because it’s also to do with the support network around the athlete, and the time and effort that families put in, which is something that maybe isn’t consistent across the [social] spectrum. But sports schools would provide that network, and so help to maximise every youngster’s opportunities.”

The report studied how sports schools work in 10 other countries: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Singapore and Sweden.

“What we found in other countries is that the sports schools are not ad hoc; they really do take seriously the need to bring forward sport in line with education.”

One of the problems in Scotland at the moment is that for young people it tends to be one or the other – you can be good at sport or the academic side. We need to allow talented young people to maximise their talent at sport as well as education, and it’s pretty clear that other countries are doing that and getting positive results.”

One would hope that that the Curriculum for Excellence philosophy that pupils are provided with the opportunities to develop their talents as part of their education, would provide some future scope for pupils to develop sporting talent. However I would tend to agree with Watson that in a large number of educational establishments the whole area of sport and physical education is not taken seriously and I would suggest that funding would be limited in mainstream schools. Therefore it is unlikely to happen.

There are however already some examples in Scotland which Watson referred to as the adhoc approach which currently exists. The School of sport at Bellahouston Academy, also Edinburgh City, West Lothian and the Borders are introducing smaller scale Sport Academy concepts but not based in a specific building.

It is the Integrated school of sport model such as exists at Bellahouston which Watson favours extending around the country – mixing sport and mainstream pupils – is the way to go. “The evidence we’ve gathered suggests that it’s better to integrate as much as possible. Our recommendation would be that you identify an existing facility and build the infrastructure around that. That would seem the most sensible and cost-efficient way to go about it.”

For me was one of the most interesting features of the report indicated that pupils who were given additional time to pursue sport on the whole did not suffer academically and indeed their academic achievement was higher than the national average of their respective country of origin.

In addition to fostering sport, the specialist schools were also found to produce better academic results. The only country which had poorer results than mainstream schools was France, where the sport/study balance is weighted heavily in favour of sport, with 24 hours of lessons and 20 hours’ training. However, in all the rest of the examples academic achievement among sports pupils is higher than the national average.

On my secondment as I travel round the country I am frequently met with same argument that; we are unable to increase the time allocated to PE as we need to improve attainment if we take time from other subjects attainment will suffer. This report and indeed a number of other pieces of research from around the world contradict this assumption held by many in education.

2hrs per week of quality PE, for all pupils by 2008, is the recommendation in Scotland. Is this too much to ask schools in Scotland to provide? I don’t thinks so especially when you see our counterparts in England now striving to provide 4 hrs of PE and school sport.

Should we have Sport Academies to nurture our elite talent? In my opinion yes but we must not forget about the vast majority of pupils who will not become elite performers by extending the provision and quality of PE, sport and physical activity opportunities for them within mainstream education.

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A great free tool for all in Education

Posted by drilly on August 21, 2007


A site to support pupils and staff  Schoolr all you need on 1 page check it out its pretty self explanatory.

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The Cone Man Cometh

Posted by drilly on August 16, 2007


I had a meeting today with the “cone man” Ralf Klinnert from Funky Moves a wireless interactive programmable cone system.

The basic version of Funky Moves consists of electronic base units, utilising innovative wireless technology in a robust, safe and easy-to-use package. The cones incorporate lights, sound and a touch pad and are controlled by a programmable remote control. This allows the cones to be set up for different games and uses. cones.jpg

Examples for uses for PE:

  • Innovative running games for competing teams
  • Collaborative team relay tasks
  • Next generation fitness tests with automatic individual performance recording
  • Interactive obstacle course

The System is still very much in the prototype stage but has been piloted in 3 schools including St Ninians Primary in Stirling featured in the video clip.

The development process continues apace the next prototype will incorporate a timing mechanism and possible future models will incorporate a distance sensor all of which could have cross curricular applications in numeracy, science and PE. Imagine for example how much more fun it would be learning about the speed/distance/time equations in a practical active lesson whilst developing fitness and skills. Or using ICT skills to develop a new game programme the remote control then actually play the game.

Edinburgh University Physical Education Sport and Leisure Studies Department are involved in developing the games and lessons resources to support the use of the technology.

There will also be software developed that will allow users/children to develop their own games and them upload them to the remote control to play the games.

The Scottish Institute of Sport will be involved in a case study to investigate the impact of the technology on childrens fitness levels.

It all sounds exciting and Ralf will be looking for some schools to be involved in further case studies and development of the system. My only concern is that it may possibly end up being rather expensive for schools but lets hope not.

Posted in ICT, ICT in PE, Physical Activity, Physical Education, Primary PE | Leave a Comment »

Christopher Brookmyre an Insight into PE?

Posted by drilly on August 16, 2007

Ewan Mcintosh wrote earlier this week about Harry, Hermione and Ron give a clue on digital literacy . There was also an article in the Scotsman Hogwarts ‘provides lessons in teaching dos and don’ts’ on the research of Dr Jennifer Conn. Dr Conn highlights instances from the Harry Potter books that demonstrate good and bad teaching.


As chance would have it I am currently reading A tale etched in blood an hard black pencil by Chritopher Brookmyre and a thoroughly enjoyable read it is to. In fact I would recommend all his titles. Drawing parallels to the 2 articles above here are Brookmyres characters reflections on PE in the Seventies and Eighties but how much is still true today?

 The Value of PE

“Martin was really pleased when he looked at the time table and saw you get PE twice a week, two whole double periods, guaranteed. You were meant to get it once a week at primary, but you were lucky if it was once a month because the teachers could seldom be bothered, with O’Connor particularly remiss. She would use any excuse to ditch it: You were all talking too much so PE’s cancelled as punishment; There’s a virus going around and exercise tires you out and makes you vulnerable to infection

I would like to believe we have moved on but I still hear stories on my travels of pupils in primary schools being excluded from PE as a punishment and occasionally teachers who really would rather avoid teaching the subject. I also hear about PE lessons in primary and secondary cancelled at the drop of a hat, though in fairness this is usually because of facilities being used for an assembly, a visiting speaker, practicing for a production and exams. However this all serves to illustrate how PE is perceived in many establishments. Imagine the outcry from staff and parents if the Maths or English department was forced to vacate their facilities and adapt their curriculum for the duration of the exam programme.

 What we teach

“at St Graces…it’s real, structured sports… not rubbishy music and movement tapes or a shambolic game of rounders”

It is vital that what we do is planned and relevant for the pupils and reflects their interests.

 Engaging the Pupils

“The PE teachers have a cuppa tea thegither while we’re getting changed. It’s ayeways the same, ma big brer tellt us. They know fine it takes us two minutes tae get changed but they sit oan there erses for a good quarter ay an hour”

Pupils come into our secondary PE departments from primary full of energy and enthusiasm and if we don’t harness it we may lose them. Research form the the Physical Activity of Scottish Schoolchildren (PASS) project shows us that something happens to a significant number of pupils, especially girls, that turns them away from PE and physical activity when they move on to secondary schools.  In Brookmyres book the outcome is much more humorous as the boys apply that energy to other activities in the changing rooms (you will have to read the book to find out what these are).


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Times Ed (Scotland) 10/08/07

Posted by drilly on August 15, 2007


In last weeks TESS “Small classes, big results” Steven Mcguckin Faculty head of PE and Drama at Larbert High School outlined his aspiration for smaller class sizes for PE across Scotland. He alludes to the anomaly that PE in Scotland is not viewed as a practical subject on a par with subjects such as the sciences where class sizes are a maximum of 20. PE in the majority of Schools in Scotland is delivered in larger class sizes up to a maximum of 33 in some schools. Mr Mcguckin believes that the quality of the experience in PE is enhanced with smaller class sizes.

I would have to agree with him. In my current school we had class sizes of 20 for S1 & S2 PE but this was scrapped and as a result the class size increased and I feel the quality of the pupil experience decreased and the quality of the teachers experience also decreased. Organisation, administration, building relationships and getting to know the class and individual pupils all takes longer and your attention is divided between more pupils so the time you spend with individuals is reduced. Maybe the Executive should consider reducing class sizes in PE as an additional target to drive up the quality of the pupils experience. Maybe this would be a better target than the 2 hour time recommendation

In my mind it is the quality of the experience that is the most important issue, though reducing class sizes is not the only solution as we also need to look at the quality of what we are delivering and the quality of how we deliver it. The ideal would be 2 hours of high quality PE in practical class sizes but judging by the progress made with the 2 hour recommendation alone and the costs involved I cant see this happening any time soon.


Another article also grabbed my attention “On a par with the boys”. In order to boost the number of girls playing golf in Scotland we are going to follow a Swedish model of girls only sessions. A pilot programme in Aberdeenshire suggests the model could be successful. “Girls are less intimidated if they are involved in all girl sessions” ” there was not just peer group pressure in terms of ability but in terms of whether playing golf is cool or not” “boys try to show off. Girls are generally not as competitive as boys”

Are there lessons to be learned for how we organise PE ? I have heard the same issues raised regarding the reasons why girls enthusiasm and participation in PE drops as they get older. Some schools have always had single gender PE  but many are co-ed. Some of the co-ed schools are starting to shift to single gender classes and have reported an increased level of participation from the girls. Is this the way forward?

I have always taught in co-ed departments though occasionally it has worked out that I have had an all male Standard Grade class or an all female trampolining class in S4 choices. In my opinion I think there is merit in both co-ed and single gender PE and my personal preference would be a blend of both where some activities would be male or female only and some would be co-ed.



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Today in sport 15th Aug

Posted by drilly on August 15, 2007

1936 – The USA basketball team defeated Canada 19-8 to win the Gold Medal in the Olympics. It marked the first year that basketball was put in as an Olympic event.

1977 – Lanny Watkins beat Gene Littler on the third hole of sudden death to win the PGA Championship.

2004 – Bay of Plenty win Rugby Union’s Ranfurly shield for the first time in the shield’s 102 year history and after 28 unsuccessful challenges. They defeated Auckland. 33-26

2005 – The United States won the Walker Cup by defeating Great Britain & Ireland, 12.5 to 11.5. The Americans reclaimed the cup for the first time since 1997. The Walker Cup Match is contested by male amateur golfers, one team from the USA and one team from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.  

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