A models based approach to PE: Sport Education

Sport Education

Using Sport Education to develop Leadership and Management

Sport Education is an alternative model of delivering Physical Education, which was created by Daryl Sidentop in 1984. The traditional model of delivering Physical Education is through practice of a skill, progression of the skill and then game related practice focusing on the skill. What Sport Education tries to do is provide an authentic sports experience. Students create teams, play a season of fixtures, results are kept up to date and shared, there is a finals day and awards and the overriding theme is one of participation, playing and celebration. The SE model has been used successfully as a way of engaging socially disruptive pupils (mainly boys) and presented as a system to encourage social development. We have tried to use it to develop the following in Year 10 male students; leadership, management, personal and group responsibility and learning to deal with peers in a professional manner.

The sport we deliver this through is Irish Tag Rugby. I personal love Irish Tag Rugby for the kicking element and so do our students. If you have never heard of Irish Tag Rugby check it out. Teams play each other in a a tournament, and gain points for winning and drawing as usual, but our main difference is the awarding of ‘Sport Ed Points’. Every lesson all students get to be the performer. On top of this every student has a role to fulfil. Points are awarded for how well the students perform the roles they have during the lesson, as well as the points from the result of the game. The roles themselves are done in a Role Matrix & Definitions for 10, so each lesson pupils experience a different role.

Delivery of Sport Education

The first lesson is the set-up lesson. In this lesson we organise teams and set out the expectations of the unit of work. We also teach them the rules of Irish Tag Rugby and get them to play it. Sport Education Introduction – Tag Rugby

The second lesson is the teacher modelling good practice of the roles of responsibility within the team. Using the Assessment criteria sheet for Sport Ed points we have students rate our performance in each of the main roles and justify why they have given us this mark. This makes for some interesting conversations about what makes someone successful in those roles.

The rest of the lessons are the normal season and take the following Lesson Structure. We play either a league or round robin pools with play-offs. After the final lesson we have an award ceremony for the best team, MVP, top try scorer, best try etc. One year we have a student who was unable to take part in PE all year and he came out to do video highlights of the games. In the awards ceremony he put together an amazing montage of the best tries from the games.

Teachers Role Coaches

After the first two teacher led lessons, we move into the role of facilitator. We watch each of the students in the roles and grade them. We also give them one to one verbal feedback about how well they’ve done the role and what they can improve. This is probably the only time in Core PE the lesson is designed for me to have 1 to 1 verbal feedback with a student. The improvement in confidence I witness in the students ability to coach, manage and lead is incredible, especially after they receive 1 to 1 feedback. (This is an area of my teaching I would be very interested to develop and bring into other lessons). Over the course of 5 years I have got comfortable with the delivery of this unit and have become more of a coach. The conversations with students I have try to put the emphasis of justifying their grade, strengths and areas for improvement back on them. This is from a recording of a conversation I had with a student regarding how well they carried out their role as an official.

Me :So what grade should I give you for your role as official today?

Student: 4 out of 5.

Me: Why do you think you should be awarded 4 out of 5? What were the strengths of your performance?

Student: I was decisive. I made good decisions and I didn’t change my mind. I think I communicated my decisions well, and I also gave explanations about my decisions that would allow them players to understand how I was calling things. My non verbal communication was also pretty good, I used the whistle and gave the right hand signals apart from offside at the kick.

Me: Where do you think you dropped a mark? What would you try to improve?

Student: I didn’t keep up with play very well. I watched people make a break, then realised that I needed to stay with them, so I couldn’t see what happened.

Me: Did that cause any problems?

Student: Yes one time I couldn’t see if someone had knocked the ball over the line when they were scoring. This caused some problems with the opposition. I said as I couldn’t see, I couldn’t award the try. However If I kept up with play I could have been sure of making the right call.


Each year we questionnaire our pupils to gain feedback on the provision of PE we are delivering. Sport Education have very good feedback. Over the course of 5 years of running Sport Education, 91% of all students have really enjoyed it and have felt they have made significant progress in the following areas:

Making decisions

Feeling more confident when communicating with peers

Managing their peers

Being able to lead a warm-up

Coaching a new skill to their peer

Dealing with conflict

Knowledge and Understanding of the rules

Health and Fitness

Taking Responsibility


However there is one key area where students feel they make little or no progress over the course of the unit and that is their playing ability. Less that 15% of students feel they make any progress in their ability to play rugby, compared to the football unit of work which still follows a traditional method of teaching.

My own personal views is that our Yr 10 Sport Education (Scheme of work) supports the students at the right time in turning from children into young adults. With GCSE’s they need to take on more personal responsibility for their own life and the community in which they are part of. The environment which we create allows them to develop these key skills, and I see many students grow up in the lessons in front of me, just because they are given responsibility for the first time in their lives and we support them to embrace it.

Do you run Sport Education in your curriculum? If so what are you ultimate aims? Do you have any top tips to share to make it successful for other teachers wishing to try and implement this model of physical education into their teaching?

11 thoughts on “A models based approach to PE: Sport Education

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