PE scheme sees pupils get fitter and behave better
An Edinburgh primary has invented a PE programme that not only delivers the Scottish government's target of two hours PE every week but gets pupils active every day and improves behaviour, say staff.
The Flora Stevenson Primary scheme, which has been running for the past two years, is expected to spread to the three other primaries in its cluster by August next year: Stockbridge Primary has already adopted it, with Granton and Ferryhill primaries set to follow.
Introducing more physical activity has, however, not been without its challenges. Teachers used to placing PE in the hands of specialists had to be up-skilled and pound;15,000 found every year to deliver the programme, said Flora Stevenson Primary's depute head Shelagh Dow.
The school uses an hour-long activity slot on a Friday morning - offering everything from fencing to football and hip-hop to tae kwon do - to keep pupils engaged throughout the week.
The "golden time" activities, which can be withdrawn if pupils misbehave, were introduced by PE specialist Angela Hutt, whose ambition was to make children active every day of the week.
She came up with the idea after P3s at Flora Stevenson took part in a year-long Scottish Football Association physical literacy programme that ran four days a week. Not only did the pupils' physical ability improve but so did their concentration, said Ms Hutt.
"On the back of that I asked if the whole school could do PE every day," she said.
Ms Hutt added: "Curriculum for Excellence has given us the flexibility to provide pupils with opportunities to be active daily."
The main challenges to delivery have been staff training and cost, said Mrs Dow.
She continued: "Because of McCrone and non-contact time, teachers tended to leave their pupils with a PE specialist. Part of the problem for us was that teachers did not have the confidence to deliver PE or the repertoire of games and warm-ups."
Staff development time was therefore dedicated to PE and funding was sourced from the Winning Scotland Foundation and NHS Lothian.
Who would skip it?
Pupils at Flora Stevenson receive PE lessons three days a week and take part in an active class challenge on a fourth day.
Class challenges involve problem solving or working together, usually with a competitive element. One recent challenge was based on skipping as part of a skipping themed week which saw pupils learning traditional skipping rhymes, inventing their own and reciting them. For the class challenge they had to work out the number of different ways they could skip.
The week culminates on Friday morning with the "golden time" activity. Pupils have had tennis coaching at nearby independent school Fettes College and made use of the dance studio at Broughton High.
"We survey them and speak to the pupil council to find out what they would like to do," explained Ms Hutt.
A request for fencing - thought to have been inspired by Peter Pan - saw them decamp to Broughton High and source a coach through Active Schools.