Physical education teachers are to become movie producers in a bid to nurture new sporting talent in the classroom. A growing number of PE departments are already filming their pupils in action, and more schools are set to follow as part of the Assembly-funded PE and school sports initiative. (PESS) Teachers are learning to capture action shots on camcorders and digital cameras before transferring the sporting images on to state-of-the-art computers. Pupils view the footage during information technology classes to help them improve their performances in the sporting arena, with helpful tips and constructive criticism. It is hoped the merger of PE and IT will also entice less sporty pupils into the gym or on to the rugby pitch.
The PESS initiative, run by the Sports Council for Wales, received a major boost over the Easter weekend after project managers revealed the Assembly will continue funding until 2008. It had been feared the Assembly would withdraw from the scheme, which has been praised by inspection body Estyn as having improved pupils' performance - especially in gymnastics and dance.
Alison Hanbury, PESS project manager, said the funding commitment was excellent news for school PE departments, and the future of Welsh sport.
She said: "The funding will mean more PE teachers will receive IT training to help to nurture our future athletes and make pupils fitter."
A group of around 25 PE teachers took part in an end-of-term one-day course in Cardiff, learning how to take photographs, film on a camcorder, and transfer the images on to personal computers.
David Wynne, PE teacher at Ysgol Hen Golwyn in Colwyn Bay, north Wales, helped to train new recruits to the scheme. He said pupils had come on in "leaps and bounds" since IT was adopted as a motivating factor in his department.
Anne Ellis, chair of the Sports Council for Wales, said even greater investment in school sport was necessary if Wales is to become a serious sporting nation competing in the international arena.
The former Welsh international hockey player said: "We've all seen the success of the Wales rugby team, and we should be homing in on fresh, young talent for future success.
"However, there appears to be some reluctance from heads to allow their PE staff time off to learn how to use technology to the best advantage."
Graham Haines, the initiative's ICT consultant, acknowledged English schools had already embraced technology as a way forward in PE. He told teachers at the workshop that their resources did not have to be state-of-the-art to be effective.
Filming pupils during classes is only one aspect of the PESS initiative, however. Around a quarter of Welsh schools are now involved in the scheme, with 1,600 PE teachers benefiting from some form of training in best practice.