Ann Warne, PE teacher at Beaucroft Foundation school in Wimbourne, Dorset, a special needs school for children with moderate learning difficulties, was looking for some sort of accreditation for the aerobics that a group of key stage 4 pupils were taking.
"They had been doing aerobics anyway and I wanted their achievement recognised officially", she said.
What she found fitted the bill exactly. It was the latest award scheme from British Gymnastics, the only recognised governing body for the sport in the UK and is called sports aerobics, defined as "the ability to perform complex, high intensity movement patterns to music". "A routine in sports aerobics must demonstrate continuous movements, flexibility, strength and the ability to do seven basic steps: march, jog, skip, knee lift, lunge, kick and jumping jack," says the association The award comes at three levels - bronze, silver and gold - and Ann Warne chose the bronze for her pupils. Next year, several of them will move on to the silver. "It's a nice progression", she said. "Not too much of a step forward."
The British Gymnastics award schemes have been developed by coaching professionals and educationists. Apart from sports aerobics they include the funfit award scheme for children aged up to five, which, says the association, "combines physical movement with the use of colour and texture"; the proficiency award scheme, which is linked to the national curriculum and set at a level "which most primary school children will be capable of achieving"; and the trampoline award scheme, designed to be used by teachers with the knowledge of trampoline skills to instruct beginners in basic moves on and around one.
There are also five specialised proficiency award schemes which encourage children who have achieved a level of competency to move on to specific apparatus or skills. It includes the vault and rebound award and the hand-held apparatus award.
The foundation award scheme is aimed at people with special needs. In it, the individual skills from the British Gymnastics proficiency awards, are broken down into their components parts. All the award schemes provide teachers with support materials and technology information.