There are two phases to the model that Professor David Kirk and Professor Kim Oliver have developed in order to improve the engagement of girls in PE.
The first phase is “building the foundations”, whereby teachers and pupils focus on creating a safe environment for PE. During the second phase, lessons are constructed around a theme, like learning to be more physically active outside of school – as opposed to being built around a specific activity, such as football, basketball or hockey.
Four elements must be in place for this approach to work, says Kirk:
Give girls a say in what they do in physical education This does not mean letting girls do what they want in PE – rather, that they reach a group decision where they agree to participate in everything, even though there will be some activities that they dislike.
Create an environment of trust Pupils answer questions about their feelings towards PE, then work together on what a safe classroom environment might look like, and develop a range of rules. Next, they take part in “novel activities” – urban orienteering, touch rugby, yoga, spin classes – to open up the concept of what physical education can be beyond traditional team sports.
The girls explore the barriers stopping them participating in physical activity Barriers might be money or transport, but teachers work with pupils to find out how the pupils can become more active in their own time.
Teachers must respond Teachers have to act on girls’ feedback. For example, in the four pilot schools “a prominent issue” was the time available to change before and after PE; one teacher agreed to give girls more time to change at the end if they were ready to start promptly.