PE Play Book

The PE Play Book – June 2019 Edition

‘‘How do we reconcile the notion of theory, loosely conceived of as abstract knowledge, with practice: what people actually do in their work and in life?’’ – Karen VanderVen

Every month for the last four years I have published the PE Play Book, a monthly round up of blog posts, podcasts, videos and online articles on PE and School Sport that I had read or listened to the previous month. However my reading habits have changed over that time and whilst I still read blogs by PE Teachers and Youth Sports Coaches, as I want to know and understand what colleagues are doing in their context, I tend to spend more time reading academic literature. Therefore whilst the PE Playbook will continue it will be in a changed format that reflects that. I will continue to share blog posts, podcasts, videos and online articles on PE and School Sport on my twitter feed but the PE Play Book will become more focused on research and academic literature and how it has shaped my teaching or has made me reflect on my own teaching.

The PE in the title will take on two meanings; Physical Education but also Practice Focused and Evidence Informed. What do I mean by Practice Focused and Evidence Informed?

Practice Focused Evidence Informed
Purpose of Curriculum Theory and Research
Content of Curriculum My own experience of teaching
Teaching of Curriculum Subjective Data
Reflection on purpose, content and teaching Objective Data

“Deliberate Preparation” as an Evidence-Based Focus for Primary Physical Education by Susan Giblin, David Collins, Aine MacNamara & John Kiely

    • For as long as I can remember secondary schools PE programmes have been heavily focused on sport, especially traditional competitive team sport. At the beginning of my career, that didn’t seem to be a problem, but in recent years I have seen many children put off by this. There are many factors at play, but one is that children come to school with less movement experience and capabilities than before, and find it difficult to participate and find success in these sports.
    • The authors propose deliberate preparation, to sit along side deliberate play and deliberate practice, due to the importance of psychological and behavioural skills in conjunction with physical skills for promoting life long physical activity. Whilst written to promote an evidence informed approach to primary school PE, I think it has much to offer secondary schools, especially if Year 7 cohorts struggle with basic movement skills.
    • Deliberate Preparation focuses on three key areas. The first is making movement skills central to the PE curriculum, as they not only positively correlate with life long physical activity but also academic achievement and physical, psychological, and behavioural outcomes measured in adolescence and later life. The second is ensuring that children develop psycho-behavioural skills such as realistic performance evaluation and focus and distraction control to develop the knowledge, positive attitudes, and confidence to enjoy a physically active lifestyle beyond the cessation of formal PE. The third and final key area is to develop children’s perceived motor competence through addressing the varying motivations, beliefs, and abilities for physical activity engagement.
    • This paper suggest that PE needs to prioritise quality physical skill acquisition in PE at Primary School, but it raises questions about curriculum content and teaching at Secondary School if children come with poor motor competence.


Dewey, Interest, and Well-Being: Prospects for Improving the Educational Value of Physical Education by Malcolm Thorburn & James MacAllister

    • The authors put forward three PE strategies that they believe have limited benefit; the prudential, the intellectual and the affective.
    • The Prudential is a PE curriculum that is based around the idea of ‘exercising as useful‘, specifically as a way or preventing disease or extending life. The Intellectual is a PE curriculum that focuses on the idea of ‘movement as understood‘, a highly theoretical approach to the subject that looks building knowledge and understand movement. The Affective is a PE Curriculum that looks at ‘activity as enjoyed‘ leading to an overt focus on fun and buffet of activities in the hope that children don’t get bored and find one they like.
    • Thorburn and MacAllister suggest an alternative strategy – ‘movement of personal value‘ which focuses on how movement can develop personal wellbeing and support a good life. That the key purpose of a curriculum is to provide meaning – that the subject matter has clear logical connections with the experience and lives of the children we are teaching.
    • By shifting the focus of the curriculum to a first person perspective on learning, i.e. making decisions and judgements on living well and wisely, this would dovetail with skill acquisitions and knowledge and understanding of movement. Teachers are encouraged to develop a curriculum that promotes valuing movement as part of personal wellbeing.

These papers raise two questions that all PE Teachers should be seeking to help children answer – ‘Am I able to move’ and ‘is movement worth it’? A curriculum that focuses on developing movement competence whilst at the same time providing the space and support to find personal relevance and meaning in movement is a step in the right way.

By @ImSporticus

Lecturer in PE, Sport and Physical Activity. Helping others to flourish through movement.

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