PSSP Wins a research award for KS1 project!

The award was presented at the Plymouth University Awards Evening by Professor Wendy Purcell to work with Liz Taplin on our `Observing Physical Literacy at KS1' project

The Vice-Chancellor's Community Research Awards are designed to connect the University's world class researchers with the local community, and enable research into questions of importance to community groups

PSSP has had questions from schools asking why many key stage one (KS1) teachers lack confidence when teaching and assessing physical education.

Furthermore, it is recognised nationally, that children under the age of seven are increasingly failing to reach the developmental milestones they are capable of, which subsequently prevents them from accessing opportunities to participate in physical activity, simply because they do not have the confidence, motivation or competence (in other words, the physical literacy) to do so.

We suspect these two issues are connected; therefore the aim of this project is to identify the extent of the problem and to establish whether an intervention strategy addresses the situation. Our research questions focus on whether there is an issue of low confidence amongst teachers and whether an intervention addresses the problem.

The outcome should be a workforce comprised of more knowledgeable and confident KS1 teachers in respect of physical education provision and children in our schools receiving the appropriate support and guidance that supports the development of their physical literacy

The Youth Sport Trust (YST) has recently tried to address this issue by providing professional development opportunities designed to raise awareness amongst KS1 teachers of the need to develop children’s physical literacy. This focussed on the importance of being able to observe children moving during physical education lessons and during informal play time, in order to identify the progress each child is making on their physical literacy journey. Only a limited number of KS1 teachers from partnership schools were able to attend the YST training at the Plymouth Primary PE Conference and those who did have either lacked the confidence, or opportunity, to implement the key principles. Conversations with some KS1 teachers, who attended the training, reveal that whilst the training was useful, help is needed to ensure the key messages are embedded.

The ‘Observing Physical Literacy at KS1’ project will establish whether teachers do require help and whether a programme devised to deliver that help makes a difference. We have identified several steps to ensure the issues are addressed.

Firstly, a survey of the KS1 teachers in one area of the city will be undertaken, to establish the depth of understanding in respect of physical literacy and the level of knowledge in respect of how and why observation of children moving is crucial to the development of their physical literacy. This survey can be undertaken by the PSSP.

Next, we envisage implementing a three part programme to provide the KS1 teachers with the necessary knowledge and understanding to support children on their physical literacy journey. The programme would involve teachers:

•             attending a workshop which explains what physical literacy is and how it can be identified through observation of children moving (to include an opportunity for teachers to observe a group of children)

•             being partnered with a team of Plymouth University trainee teachers, who are specialising in primary physical education (the trainees, under the lead researcher’s supervision, will go into the schools to lead a physical education session which allows the class teachers to observe their own classes)

•             engaging in a follow up discussion group (to be arranged on a school by school basis) with the lead researcher available to answer questions and further develop knowledge and understanding

A follow up survey will be carried out by PSSP to identify to impact of the project and to establish the next steps

Initial discussions have led to a suggestion that the partner primary schools to the Marine Academy Plymouth should be invited to participate in the first round of the project

The project aims to develop confident, knowledgeable teachers of physical education at KS1. This should help children in the 5-7 year age group develop their physical literacy, in other words, they will be more confident, more motivated and more competent to participate in physical activity. Ultimately, this group of children will feed into KS2 and then the secondary schools, thus contributing to a more active, healthier youth of Plymouth. If successful, discussions will be held to consider the viability of rolling out the intervention programme to other schools

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