Thursday, May 10, 2007

GCE PE Study Trip to UK - Day 3 @ Eaton Bank

We began Day 3 at Eaton Bank High ready to do some observations and find out more about how their PE program in general was conducted and in particular how GCE PE was implemented concurrently with curriculum PE.

We started the day at the Staff Room and it's really nice to see the way everyone strolls in and greets each other. The atmosphere is really bright, cheerful and congenial.

Apparently, the teachers gather this way every morning- they come in, have their breakfast, meet-up with each other. And during this time, the can also have their own version of contact time. Now, their version of Contact Time is really time for staff contact- everyone from the Principal to various members of the staff take turns to raise any issues of importance to the rest of the staff. Short, sharp and sweet, chop-chop: in less than 30mins they're done. When Matt was here and heard about our 3hr contact time at VS, he found it simply unbelievable. During this time, we were briefly introduced to the staff.

Looking round the staff room, you can understand why Contact Time for them is so brief- all important notices are put up and it is everybody's onus to make sure they read and know what's going on. This is something we in Singapore can learn from- in a system that prides itself on efficiency, we ironically tend to be very long winded in our meetings. What we need to emulate from our English counterparts is the need to be concise in word and deed.

At the day progressed, we had the priviledge of follow and observe PE lessons by Mr Nigel Brownsword. He was taking his class of students (equivalent to our Lower Sec) for 200m sprints and the Triple Jump. When Mr Sng and I saw the field, the first reaction was "Wah, their field really got standard" The grass is soft, and you've got dandelions growing! What do we have growing in our field? Rocks.
Their track is also 'super-imposed' on their field. Check it out as we see Nigel bringing his class through the warm-ups

Although the school is co-ed, classes are split according to gender. So Nigel takes the boys while the girls are handled by another teacher. They have 2 hours of PE everyweek - yes, 2 HOURS! We were very impressed with the very systematic learning progression with which the children were introduced to the skills needed. Here Nigel elucidates upon the finer points of the starting position for sprinting (with help from Mr Sng and Mr Ian:)

Once the boys have got the hang of it, off they go and it's time to race:

The second part of the lesson was an introduction to the triple jump. This has always been one of the more complicated events in Track and Field to teach as it involves multiple movements and switch of legs in the jumping process. Nigel made it easier by introducing conceptual tags to the process by breaking the Triple Jump action down into its component sections and giving the students an easy label for each component: HOP, SKIP and JUMP.
Students were asked to define each component: ie a 'hop' is jump and land on same leg, 'skip' is jump and land on other leg, and 'jump', is well... you jump with both legs lah :)

Once the students got the hang of it, Nigel made a novel use of the sandpit to allow more students to participate at the same time. He conducted the jumps perpendicular to the length of the pit- after all the emphasis here was on the development of good jumping technique and not a competitive measure of their skill.

At the end, Nigel got the boys to huddle round and gave a debrief of the learning points to the students. Sitting down on the soft grass, in the cold air- you could see that the kids really enjoyed themselves. Certainly the environment plays a great part in the good conduct of PE lessons and it is evident that the PE teachers here are able to maximise the wonderful surroundings in creating an atmosphere of learning that brings students in touch with each other and the environment around them.

Don't be mistaken, PE in UK isn't just about a 'feel good' experience. Everywhere in te playing areas, we have found very clear rubrics and guidelines for the assessment of skill and performance.

Tomorrow, we are headed to Sandbach High School- it's an all-girls school so it should give us a different perspective as compared to how PE is conducted here in Eaton which is a Co-ed school. More updates to come- I'm sure some of you (i.e. JY from wushu) can't wait for me to update our day at the girls school.
JY- don't bother denying cause I can see you drooling right now. Heh heh.

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