Be a good sport

13th June 2008 at 01:00
Bridging the gap between primary and secondary can be difficult, especially in PE. But Rob Bowden has found sixth formers to be an invaluable source of help
Bridging the gap between primary and secondary can be difficult, especially in PE. But Rob Bowden has found sixth formers to be an invaluable source of help

How best to prepare primary pupils for the changes they encounter when they move to secondary? In any subject it's a big step, but with PE and sport it can seem more intimidating.

One way is to get older pupils to show them how it's done. This is something we do at Wilmslow High School in Cheshire, where about 20 of our sixth formers on the vocational part of the BTEC PE course go into neighbouring primaries to assist with out-of-hours sports coaching and support.

In particular, the 16 and 17-year-olds are involved in transition festivals, which introduce the primary pupils to the high school through sporting events.

A recent example is "little champions," which involved teaching reception class pupils games to improve their ABC - ability, balance and co-ordination.

The sixth formers designed and demonstrated activities, such as mini relays involving skipping ropes and hoops, or target sports with bean bags.

There were also more complex obstacle courses, where the pupils had to complete tasks, such as catching against a wall and slaloming through cones.

Older primary pupils also get a taste of what kind of sport they will encounter at secondary, such as badminton, trampolining, rugby and dance.

Another sport is boxercising, which is basically a non-contact sport, though the trainer wears mitts that the pupil punches. It falls well short of sparring, but develops what we think of as the positive aspects of the sport - fitness and discipline.

There is also a strong anti-bullying ethic, and any child using these skills in the wrong way is banned.

We have run boxercising in our school for four years, and now some of our sixth formers are going into primaries to teach it to Years 5 and 6.

It's run like an aerobics class, with the trainers at the front and the younger ones following the moves. It's hard to do with too many pupils, so it's usually limited to groups of 10 or less.

On the BTEC course, sixth formers pick up tips on team building, so when they stand in front of younger pupils it is less intimidating than they might have expected.

They also have the opportunity to gain coaching qualifications and spend several weeks on leadership modules, so that when they go out on their own, they have the skills to coach their chosen sport.

Many of these sixth formers are hoping for a career in sport, perhaps in physiotherapy, personal training or as a PE teacher, and taking part in these experiences should stand them in good stead.

Rob Bowden teaches at Wilmslow High School in Cheshire.

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