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The results of clubbing together

Two years ago our school, led by a highly motivated and thoughtful group of teaching assistants, introduced a pre-school club for small groups of pupils aged nine to 13.

It is held every morning for about 15 to 20 minutes and pupils, who take part for about six weeks, have a baseline assessment when they start.

The club aims to tackle issues such as poor handwriting, co-ordination, literacy skills and concentration in lessons through the medium of PE.

Some children have shown improvements in handwriting and teachers have said that pupils appear more focused while concentrating more in lessons. For many pupils, however, simply the chance to succeed in an environment such as the school gym, where more often than not they struggle within a whole-class situation, has had a positive effect.

As time progressed and the club evolved, the teaching assistants have developed and added many of their own practices and routines which suit the age group. Here are just a few of the things that you could try that we have found to be successful.

Jacks: a playground classic, but it really works helping hand-eye co-ordination.

Labyrinth: we have a hand-held game where the object is to guide the ball around a course without falling into one of the holes. This has proved to be frustratingly addictive, as well as easy to record progress and helps with concentration.

Speed puzzle: our creative technology department has designed and produced jigsaws with varying degrees of difficulty.

Darts: we purchased a simple safety dartboard, which has proved to be a real winner. Not only does it help to focus on a target but it also helps with quick mental maths.

Circus skills: this has helped our older and more able participants.

Juggling, Diablo, plate-spinning, as well as stilt-walking have all proved to be skills that take practice.

In essence the key to success with this club lies in the ability to be innovative and attentive to the practices the pupils are asked to attempt.

For example, there is more than one way to skip.

Stuart Reeves

Head of PE, Nodehill Middle School, Isle of Wight

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