Graham Hart welcomes a PE pack that offers activities for all tastes.
There was a time when you picked your strongest pupils to carry the cricket bag or the netball posts on your way to the school field; the weaker ones managed the bibs and the bean bags.
Now you need to allocate one extra strong pupil to bring along the paperwork - curriculum guidelines, lesson plans, marking schemes, health and safety notices and, should you choose it, your new PE in Action kit from Folens. For, make no mistake, this is a product of some bulk. The complete kit comprises five boxes in all, although you can buy them separately. This is some bulk, but also some quality too.
Within each box you get a teacher resource book and three sets of laminated cards. The resource book includes an introduction (cross-curricular links, useful addresses, sample work schemes) and a number of photocopiable pupil record cards and award certificates. The laminated cards are two-sided. On one side is a lesson plan that incorporates a particular technique or activity. On the reverse is a simple, illustrated explanation of the activity.
The first four units take a chronological approach to the topic, beginning with unit 1 for four to five-year-olds and ending with unit 4 for nine to 11-year-olds. Each of these four units covers games, dance and gymnastics in roughly equal proportions. Unit 5 is the only exception to the pattern. This also comprises a teacher's resource book and cards, but this time the topics are swimming, outdoor and adventure activities and athletics. This unit is for use across the seven to 11 range.
The way the materials are organised gives substance to Folens' boast that this is a "comprehensive scheme of PE activities" to cover the entire primary age range. It really can do it all for the teacher. The general introduction to the scheme proposes the model in which the PE curriculum leader assumes responsibility for adopting PE in Action throughout the entire school. This would involve considerable investment in both time and money before such a step could be taken.
It could work in this way, but it's not the only way. There is sufficient flexibility within the materials to allow for a pick and mix approach. Any one of the activities could be used in isolation. Indeed it could be argued that at pound;34.95, the price of just one unit, this is good value for something that could be used just as a stimulus and not a complete course. You will almost certainly find small game suggestions or skill practices in this publication that you have not come across before. The swimming section in particular has lots of new ideas.
The idea of picking and mixing works in other aspects too. You can omit the cards with a competitive element if that's your school's policy; you can leave out the rugby card if it's not your chosen game, and you can modify the swimming cards depending upon your facilities and so on.
From both pedagogical and publishing standpoints PE in Action has a kind of back to basics appeal, but then again, so does the subject itself. The four authors seems as happy as ever to recommend pupils get out there with their tennis balls and hoops. There are no requirements for elaborate equipment although you are encouraged to undertake a "resources audit" before beginning. And the art work and text design are traditional in approach, eschewing the currently popular smash hits school of educational materials.
Apart from being tempted to ask whatever happened to stoolball (its demise is a source of perpetual personal disappointment) there seems nothing to fault in the materials. You'd be well advised to take a careful look at this, perhaps one unit at a time.