It’s been just over eleven years since I was attending lectures at Brighton University (Chelsea School). During one memorable Thursday morning seminar, I was listening to a lecturer talking about her PhD research and how her findings might prevent us from falling into some common but major pitfalls whilst on placement. The main message from this lecture resonated with me and has helped to form my opinions on student’s physical activity levels ever since.
She was completing field study research in a local secondary school and was shocked with some of her findings from this one particular lesson. A class of 30 pupils were taken through a technique based long jump lesson whereby shortly after explanations were made, students formed a queue and stood in wait for their ‘go.’ One after the other they dashed down the runway and launched themselves into the pit, attempting to implement what they had learnt at the beginning of the lesson.
The teacher was standing next to the pit, giving instant constructive feedback after each student had landed. On average, pupils were getting a turn (and being physically active) once every 9.5 – 10 minutes if they were lucky. Alongside this, some students were shying away from participating completely and managed to escape their turn entirely by continuously shuffling to the back of the line. In my opinion, the sort of PE lesson that she was describing belonged in a bygone era. Even though the intentions of the PE teacher could have been totally honorable, it seemed sad to think that these students were being hugely short-changed by poor planning and organisation.
Putting the ‘physical’ back into Physical Education
Years on, the Government and Ofsted seem to be asking PE teachers to address a very similar issue surrounding physical activity levels. In a document entitled ‘Not enough physical in physical education’ (2013), Ofsted notes:
“…we found there often wasn’t enough physical, strenuous activity in PE lessons. Some teachers talked for too long and pupils were not provided with enough activity to enable them to learn or practise their skills.”
Alongside this, another issue that seems to be increasingly laid at our doorstep is that of the obesity crisis. Worryingly, Baronness Campbell (Chair of UK Sport) reported in 2015 that:
“…one in three children are leaving primary school obese or overweight, and less than one in five are meeting the minimum recommended guidelines for physical activity. It is a bleak and worrying picture.”
Trampolining: Friend or foe?
With both of these issues in mind, I would like to talk about Trampolining in curriculum lessons.
As an ex-gymnast, I love trampolining as an activity, as do the vast majority of the students at all of the schools that I’ve ever had the pleasure of working in. It builds body tension, posture, co-ordination, tones muscles, burns calories and is a great whole body, aerobic workout – IF, you’re on the trampoline for long enough. I have recently read numerous articles claiming that: “On a trampoline, you burn as many calories in 10 minutes as with 30 minutes of jogging.” I believe that this should probably say: “On a trampoline, it is possible to burn as many calories in 10 minutes as with 30 minutes of jogging…if you do not stop jumping for quite a long period of time and this will vary depending on size, weight, etc.” Regardless of this fact, I really do believe that it can benefit students to participate in this sport within their PE lessons and to exclude it is just ignoring the issue that many PE teachers face – a lot of time is spent waiting and inactive.
Last year, when the lesson observation timetable came around, one of my colleagues said to me: “If I’m due to be teaching trampolining, could I please swap onto another activity as I am not confident that I could teach it to a really good level.” She explained that many students are waiting for their turn and that she couldn’t think of any ways in which to keep them all sufficiently occupied and active.
This filled me with dread and made me this – Had I allowed myself my team members to teach lessons that coincided with everything that I vowed not to accept. Had that ‘long jump’ style lesson had crept in without me even realising?
It was therefore something that I felt very passionate about changing. This meant researching what others were doing and trying to formulate a plan to successfully implement and trial alterations to the lessons/schemes of work being delivered. Many other schools were asking students to complete peer feedback/assessment sheets, perform iPad analysis using playback software and were using students for ‘spotting’ purposes. Whilst these are all extremely worthwhile roles for the students to participate in (especially on safety grounds), I couldn’t help but feel like we were still missing a huge point – that the students were not as physically active as they should be and are in other PE lessons. This therefore led me to an idea that I had used in numerous GCSE PE theory lessons when presented with a topic that leant itself to student leadership opportunities – creating a circuit of small activities led purely by the pupils themselves.
Circuit based trampolining – making this activity more active!
At my current school, our PE team are very lucky to have four working trampolines, which enables this method to work effectively and efficiently. However, this process could be altered to fit any amount of trampolines and cater for any class size with a little bit more imagination. Put simply, this is how the circuit works with the resource sheets alongside each of the different roles:
|Position:||Role:||Where do I rotate to next?|
|Position 1||COACH*||Position 2|
|Position 2||TRAMPOLINIST||Position 3|
|Position 3||TIME KEEPER/FITNESS CHECKER||Position 4|
|Position 4||FITNESS 1||Position 5|
|Position 5||IPAD/VIDEO FEEDBACK||Position 6|
|Position 6||SAFETY QUEEN||Position 7|
|Position 7||SPOTTER OR INDOOR ROWING||Position 8|
|Position 8||FITNESS 2||Position 1|
*The coach often used resource cards to teach the pre-requisites for each of the skills.
Getting the students into a clear routine from the very beginning really helps them to understand their roles and therefore keeps them as physically active for as long as possible. I’ve have found that with our students, task cards are almost essential if you want the lesson to run smoothly.
- Students were more engaged in the lesson and were less likely to deviate from the trampolines/get off task
- Student leadership was encouraged – so once the circuit was set up, it allowed time for the teacher to circulate the class to give feedback on fitness technique
- Students felt as though they were given more individualised feedback and were therefore able to make more significant progress
- Students were noticeably more tired by the end of the lesson
- Students were more knowledgeable about the pre-requisites for the more basic trampolining skills – this has enabled them to help with coaching at trampolining club after school
- It was observed that the health and safety of the students could be compromised if others are active whilst they’re trying to perform skills. However, there were enough spotters at all times and we have had less injuries/accidents since beginning this process – perhaps due to the students not having any time to get themselves off task
- Without resource cards, the students forget their role and merely make up their position – which puts everything out of kilter
- There were moments (particularly with lower ability students) towards the end of the lesson that students would decide to ignore the fitness stations and would instead ‘double up’ on a job with someone else. This needed the teacher to monitor this and remind them that it was only 1 – 1.5 minutes of activity time
- 1 – 1.5 minutes was sometimes not long enough for students to practice the pre-requisites for the skill that they were learning
- Quieter students sometimes struggled to coach/feedback properly and this needed other pupils to help them out.
Any feedback would be most welcome. Thanks for reading.