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There's not much Competition without Collaboration

Posted Monday, 26 February 2018

Most schools appear to have a substantial programme of competition. Fixtures against other schools, local and national tournaments, house matches: competition appears to be at the heart of much school sport.

Closer consideration, however, reveals that most of what appears to be competition between schools is actually a collaboration between teachers to create the best experience for pupils.  Certainly, there are some contests which are about raw competition - the later rounds of national championships, and the games between the highest performing schools.  But these are a minority.  The aim of most contests is competitiveness, rather than competition.  And there is a considerable difference between these. 

Most schools, and most teachers, recognise the bigger picture of sport in education.  In an environment where team sports are under threat, there is - more than ever...

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There’s not much Competition without Collaboration in School Sport

Posted Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Most schools appear to have a substantial programme of competition. Fixtures against other schools, local and national tournaments, house matches: competition appears to be at the heart of much school sport.

Closer consideration, however, reveals that most of what appears to be competition between schools is actually a collaboration between teachers to create the best experience for pupils.  Certainly, there are some contests which are about raw competition - the later rounds of national championships, and the games between the highest performing schools.  But these are a minority.  The aim of most contests is competitiveness, rather than competition.  And there is a considerable difference between these. 

Most schools, and most teachers, recognise the bigger picture of sport in education.  In an environment where team sports are under threat, there is - more than ever...

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Why do we try to fit so much into the Boys' Spring Term?

Posted Friday, 16 February 2018

If school terms had to be arranged in rank order of attractiveness, the Spring Term would be third, by some distance, for most teachers, parents and pupils.  It starts in the worst weather of the year, when it is dark by 4.00pm.  It is regularly cold and wet, with frequent disruption when the weather crosses the boundary from unpleasant to impossible.  “What can we do this afternoon?”, and “Will the game be on?” are the daily chorus.

This unsatisfactory background is the one chosen for the most intricate, and extensive, sports programme that most schools run.  This is especially the case for boys.  Fewer schools now play two winter terms of the same sport.  A second term of rugby has been replaced by another spring term sport, and those schools who used to base their Spring Term programme around boys’ hockey have now found that pressure on artificial pitch time has required...

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Is there enough P in PE ?

Posted Wednesday, 29 November 2017

When PT was first introduced into schools, its purpose was clear and unequivocal.  It was to provide exercise in order to improve health.  To combat diseases prevalent in poverty, and to raise standards of fitness, often primarily for military service.  It might have been a limited programme, with some fairly uninspiring content and delivery mechanisms - but its rationale was clear.  Exercise improves health.  And that's a good thing.

The industry of Physical Education, however, complicated this issue.  It added other success criteria, including acquiring sports skills and developing personal qualities.  All of these impacted upon delivery.  Broadly, they led to more teacher talk, and breaks in physical activity for explanations.  “Teaching Points” defined lesson quality.  Lesson plans established a prescription, which, if accurately administered, fostered more skillful...

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Schools Need Exercise to Improve Exam Grades

Posted Tuesday, 21 November 2017

"If exercise came in pill form, it would be plastered across the front page, hailed as the blockbuster drug of the century". Ratey and Hagerman

Schools have often implied a link between academic performance and physical activity.  Every summer term, the debate rages as to whether playing summer sports enhances or impedes exam performance. Missing lessons for sports fixtures is one of the all-time leaders of intra colleague friction.

Given this, it is perhaps surprising that the abundant science is not leveraged to clarify the facts regarding the undisputed benefits of exercise to learning.  Schools devote a significant amount of time to both physical activity and academic learning - and oddly little to the link between the two.

So, how does exercise benefit learning?  The following are a few of those ways:

Firstly, in addition to priming...

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“They Have Been Telling us the Answer for Years: ‘Please Sir, Can We Have a Game?’”

Posted Tuesday, 21 November 2017

The industry of sport coaching is a recently evolved one.  Before the 1970s, few teams had anything that could be described as a coach. Other than to transport them to the game. Indeed, many would have been offended by the implication of the concept.  Perhaps more shocking, cones had not been invented.  Any rudimentary team organisation was overseen by the captain. “Game Plans” and “Systems” were in their absolute infancy.

Fifty years have seen a huge cultural shift.  No self respecting team would be without a coach, whatever its performance level.  Player dependency is absolute: coach centricity is unquestioned.  At all levels of every game, the expectation of all is that the coach gives the instructions, and the players follow them.  This is not just before the game. It has become the industry norm that the coach maintains a constant commentary of advice and observation (to...

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