December saw the annual meeting of the SWAT Heads of PE, or HOPE as we alternatively like to be known. With a huge amount of change on the horizon there were a variety of items discussed, from assessment, examinations, enrichment and the increasingly high profile use of mobile technology to support teaching and learning.
Assessment without levels
At a meeting last week we started discussing assessing without levels and how we might address this in the PE faculty area. It was clear that this will continue to be a challenge for some time to come; a challenge no doubt faced by all subject areas within the trust. Numerous models were presented including:
- Maintaining an assessment system around the current use of key processes and assessment levels.
- Creating an assessment system which links with new 1-9 grading approach that will be introduced in the new GCSE system from September 2016.
- Removing rigid assessment systems completely and focusing upon engagement with learning and effort.
- Returning to a system where attainment and progress within individual sports are assessed.
There was healthy debate relating to assessment. What was agreed was that there is no ‘right way’ to go but any changes to the current system of assessment, particularly at Key Stage 3, would need to match the whole school approach to ensuring that students are able to demonstrate progress, identify their current level of attainment and understand what they need to focus on the improve. It will be interesting to see how the PE departments within the SWAT schools adapt to these new requirements and how we will use the expertise across the trust to make progress in this area over the coming terms.
Gifted and Talented Provision
The subject of how we may further support the development of the more able students was discussed and ideas shared between the department heads. It was agreed that, due to the nature of the subject, we are already doing a great amount of work to support the more able and improve the opportunities students of all abilities. This included providing an extensive programme of inter and intra-school fixtures, sports tours, visiting guest speakers and trips to centres of excellence for sport and education.
One ‘nugget’ was suggested by Claire Allen who described a recent trip the Bath University, where her students were able to tour the campus, use some of the sporting facilities, took part in a lecture and were involved in a Judo practical session. This proved popular amounts the students, helping to raise aspiration and encourage students to pursue further studies in PE and Sport in the future. Other SWAT colleagues described similar events ran by the University of Exeter and Plymouth Marjons University which, judging by the responses of the meeting, may become popular trips in the future.
Using Mobile Technology
This appears be the universal ‘hot topic’ across all department meetings across the trust this year. Staff attending the meeting were asked to share their most useful Apps and Websites, with the top 5 identified below:
- Socrative – lets teachers engage and assess their students with educational activities on tablets, laptops and smartphones.
- Kahoot – a classroom response system which creates engaging learning activities.
- Kerboodle.com. This was a learning platform that is for the AQA A level board (and GCSE too).
- www.Exampro.com – This allowed past papers to be accessed and a search to be done for questions on certain units. Tests can be very quickly compiled with the mark scheme and examiners report too
- Mypeexam – a ‘go to’ site for revision mind maps on every GCSE and A level topic and specifically tailored to all exam boards
Most of us agreed that it was becoming increasingly more difficult to encourage students to take PE at A level. The perception of the subject as a ‘Facilitating’ subject is not always a positive one. We discussed ways of promoting our subject and trying different strategies at the 6th form open evenings. Ben Passenger suggested a successful strategy he had adopted, contacting previous students who took A level PE and establish what they are doing now; what career path they took/profession are they now in. Another suggestion was the development of a ‘wall of fame’ with information on the wall to prove how PE can be a stepping stone to future careers and inspiring other students to achieve in PE.
The possibility of organising a ‘SWAT Cup’ sporting event each year was discussed. It was felt that the venue could be rotated around each year. Universities were considered an ideal location. Our initial thoughts were to have just year 7, 8 and 9 involved in a few sports such as Handball, Rounders, Volleyball and perhaps Badminton.
This would be discussed further at our next meeting – watch this space!