New PE Curriculum for 2011/12…APSolutely!

Before Christmas, we were informed that the overhaul of the national curriculum has been delayed and will not be implemented until 2014.  This delay will mean that the national curriculum will only be compulsory for a minority of secondary schools due to the projected number that would have converted into academies by this time.
I feel that this decision is probably a wise one, if only to remove any possible future excuse that there was insufficient time to complete the task within the original timeframe.  Michael Gove gave the following reason for the delay:
“…The longer timescale will allow for further debate with everyone interested in creating a genuinely world-class education system…”

I submitted our feedback to the consultation on behalf of Evolve in March 2011 but have not been party to any “debate” since then, or even aware of any such debate in the area of physical education.   I sincerely hope that this extension will also include cross-party talks so that the future direction of education and the national curriculum is not hijacked by personal beliefs or agenda, a view echoed by Shadow Education Secretary, Stephen Twigg:
“…The national curriculum should be placed above party politics, so we can give confidence to teachers and head teachers that ministers will not constantly chop and change the curriculum to fit their own ideology…”

For too many years, changes in administration have resulted in long periods of limbo for school leaders who have had to wait for new strategy and direction to be verified, communicated and, finally, implemented.  Surely, the needs of children repeatedly being caught up in these periods of transition are more important than political opinion and we must use this opportunity to hold education in much higher regard and respect its sacrosanctity.
Within the private sector, this lack of execution and timeliness would not be tolerated and there would be a much greater degree of accountability.  Furthermore, we should consider the missed opportunities of pupils who have not been fortunate enough to benefit from the new and improved curriculum design from now until 2014.
On a much smaller scale, this desire to not let a single year’s cohort down meant that the internal review of Evolve’s Physical Education programme (APS) was completed in time for the start of the 2011/12 academic year.  Many Evolve staff felt that this was an unrealistic target but a team of committed experts worked long hours and sacrificed annual leave to ensure that this project was delivered on time.
There is a clear gulf between the size of the two tasks but this does show what can be achieved when you have a dedicated team who all share the same values and beliefs whilst pulling in the same direction towards a common goal.
APS is an innovative PE programme that gets its name from its three core outcomes:

  • Active Learning
  • Physical Engagement
  • Social Development

It is an evolution of the former programme used by Evolve Health Mentors which, unlike many external providers of “sport” (not PE), followed the QCA schemes of work and was not simply marketed as an obvious staffing solution for PPA reasons.  The professional development function remains a key feature within APS and every school that is involved with Project HE:RO receives their own printed copy of the programme.
A key feature of APS is the termly structure of each scheme of work.  Topics such as “Balance and Coordination” and “Travelling, Dodging and Dribbling” are explored using a variety of progressive activities from gymnastic to invasion games via dance and athletics.  The amount of time spent on each of these activities is dependent upon age and ability, with earlier phases spending longer on motor skill development using dance and gymnastics and later phases focussing more on athletic and games based lessons.
The social development outcome is targeted more explicitly than within the previous curriculum with engaging “PE Puzzles” that take place in Week 9 of the scheme.  Accompanying each scheme of work are creative worksheets that have literacy and/or numeracy tasks to accompany specific lessons.  Initial feedback has found that these are excellent resources for those pupils who are difficult to motivate in these areas using more traditional classroom content.

We have also incorporated objective assessment of core tasks within each scheme.  These Progress Checks are used to motivate pupils by showing progression within PE and it is expected that pupils will transfer this concept of goal setting and development to other subject areas.
Health Mentors are very excited about delivering APS and are currently educating their host schools about the many features and benefits of the programme.  If you are not currently part of the Project HE:RO community and would like to learn more about this unique and pioneering physical education programme, feel free to contact us using to arrange a meeting or telephone call.