21 Oct 2014
Has the Olympics-legacy-inspired funding for boosting PE led to positive outcomes?
Last month we commented on a Nat Cen study, which reported that two thirds of schools said there has been only "a little impact" on confidence, healthier lifestyle or physical fitness. A quarter felt that there had been no impact at all on improvements in other academic subjects.
Meanwhile, where the coalition has been particularly keen on supporting disadvantaged children via its education policies, this funding is even less likely to have a benefit on these students, according to the report (though it seem to confuse behaviour with behaviours, in this respect - and doesn't give any numbers).
Well, there's now some additional evidence from Ofsted, who report that in the 22 schools inspected, all had plans on how to spend the funding. Most employed specialist teachers or sports coaches, some were using the new funding to put in place a range of additional activities ... and so on: you could probably write the rest yourself.
However, Ofsted also note that:
- a common weakness was that plans lacked clear targets for improvement and did not show how senior leaders would measure the impact of new funding on improving PE and sports provision
- very few schools were using their funding to improve pupils’ health and well-being, especially those known to be overweight or obese.
This first point is true of most initiatives in most schools, whether funded or not, but surely the second point is terrible omission. If there's one thing the funding could have a national benefit on, it's this. We can't really tell whether £150 million a year will produce better performance in future Olympics (or whatever), but will certainly see a benefit from reducing the national obesity crisis.
- ensure that their strategic plans for using the new funding include clear, measurable targets for improvement
- clearly show how school leaders will evaluate the impact that the premium is having on improving PE and sports provision
- regularly monitor the work of specialist PE teachers and sports coaches to ensure that their teaching and coaching are consistently good
- ensure that the professional development of staff is systematically planned and tailored to the individual needs of teachers and classroom assistants
- monitor the impact of professional development to ensure a lasting legacy of consistently good teaching of PE
- identify ‘non-participants’ in extra-curricular sport and provide additional activities to encourage their immediate and longer-term participation in sport and physical activity
- introduce activities specifically aimed at enabling their most able pupils to achieve high standards in PE and sport
- forge links with a wider range of external sports clubs to achieve sustainable ways of engaging all pupils in physical activity and sport
- work closely with parents and carers and local health agencies to promote the health and well-being of all pupils, especially those who are overweight or obese.
Here's a final thought: read these recommendations, substituting the PE context with any other initiative on your SDP: wouldn't they be equally be appopriate? So why do we keep needing to be given the same advice?
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