PE Planning and Curriculum, Resources and Continuing Professional Development in Physical Education
In the current primary school curriculum devised in 1999, Physical Education is for all primary school going children from Junior infants to 6th class. The NCCA says it should “contribute to children’s overall development by helping them to lead full, active and healthy lives”.
The curriculum is made up of six strands namely:
•Outdoor and adventure activities
and these strands are further broken into strand units. In Piercestown N.S. we aim to cover all of the strands in their entirety throughout the children’s schooling. When we began our journey toward being an Active School back in 2014, we reflected on where we were with the teaching of the Physical Education. In the last four years, we have endeavoured to upskill our teachers through continuing professional development courses and the sharing of ideas, we have upgraded our resources for the teaching of PE and we have made a conscious and co-ordinated effort through effective planning to ensure that all areas are taught successfully.
One of the first things we did centred around our resources. First of all, we made an audit of what we had and as a result a list of what indeed we needed. Most importantly, we had our very own PE storage area designed, made and fitted to ensure ease of access for the resources. Ms. Walsh even drove to Dublin to get the perfect sized storage boxes in Ikea!!!!!!
As a staff, we engaged in Professional Development and participated in the Buntús training run by Wexford County Council. We have continued our CPD each year by various members attending courses such as Yoga for Children, Physical Literacy and then returning to the school with new resources and new ideas!
Health and safety is paramount in the teaching of Physical Education and therefore, we call in the experts for the teaching of more specialised areas such as that of gymnastics and swimming. This ensures all skills are taught by expert coaches under the careful supervision of our own class teachers.
The NCCA allocates 1 hour a week of Physical Education to all classes from Junior Infants to 6th class. If the truth be told however, the children of Piercestown can verify they get way more than this! Our journey towards being an Active School assists is in adding more activity throughout our day be it inside or outside of the classroom. We even get active at our assemblies!
Piercestown National School strongly advocates for the 8 key messages of the primary school Physcial Education Curriculum.
KEY MESSAGES of the Primary PE Curriculum
Physical Education in a child-centred curriculum. When implementing the PE programme, the school, building on the principles of variety and diversification, should consider:
1. The importance of enjoying physical activity. The child who associates fun and enjoyment with physical education lessons and who gains a sense of achievement will develop the positive attitudes so necessary for continued participation in physical education lessons and physical activity.
2. The importance of play in its many forms in the learning and developmental process.
Through play the child learns to move effectively, to think, to interact socially with others
and to express feelings.
3. Maximum participation by all children in the physical education lesson. The desire by
children for active participation can be seen as the starting-point for the teacher when
planning and implementing physical education lessons. Lessons which can be identified as successful in achieving the pre-determined objectives will inevitably be those where the children were active throughout the entire lesson.
4. The development of skills and increasing understanding of the activities which the children are experiencing. The development of skills forms a significant part of the curriculum for physical education, beginning through structured play activities at infant level and extending throughout the class levels. As the skills are developed there should be an emphasis too on increasing the child’s understanding of the activities he/she is engaged in. This can be achieved by adopting appropriate teaching methods where discussion is an essential part of the process.
5. Providing a balance between competitive and non-competitive activities. Activities
incorporating some elements of competition can benefit the child as he/she progresses
towards the achievement of his/her potential. The positive opportunities presented include the development of respect for opponents, rules and classmates as officials. However, the pressures of competition can form barriers to progress for some children, and competition does not always present the ideal environment for development of skills. A balance should therefore be sought between provision for competitive and non-competitive activities.
6. Providing a balance between contact and non-contact activities. The needs of the
individual child should be considered when selecting suitable activities. A balance should be sought which, for example, allows the child who favours non-contact activities to enjoy those activities and yet be able to engage in contact activities, where possible modified to suit his/her needs.
7. Providing opportunities for achievement for each child. It is essential that the child be presented with achievable tasks, regardless of the activity he/she is engaged in. The
satisfaction of achievement is the factor that motivates many children to continue to
participate in physical activity.
8. Providing activities equally suitable for girls and boys. Activities which have traditionally been associated with either sex can be presented, sometimes with modifications, to a mixed class. Single-sex classes should be exposed to a range of activities from all six strands where possible, thus ensuring that a balanced programme is presented to them.
The importance of enjoyment and play
Maximum participation by all children
Development of skills and understanding
Balance between competitive and non-competitive activities
Balance between contact and non-contact activities
Providing opportunities for achievement for every child
Providing activities equally suitable for boys and girls
Ref: Primary Physical Education Curriculum – Teacher Guidelines (pg. 2)