The world we live in today is a complex multinational society in which children and pupils are taught to get along together regardless of their race, gender, faith or disability. The current National Curriculum mentions inclusion and how all students should be able to reach their learning potential through lessons which incorporate Individual Education Plans (IEP’s) and differentiation in order to reach the potential of all students who may step across the threshold into the classroom.
However, take all those students outside and away from the nice neat little box of a classroom and there can be chaos. This is where Physical Education lessons come in. This essay will try and explain the reasons for going into teaching, the need for PE within the National Curriculum alongside the need for this curriculum to be enforced and finally all the changes which have occurred in the last 10 years, covering the beginning of the National Curriculum as it is currently known.
Physical Education (PE) allows students to be able to explore boundaries and allows students to have a sense of freedom within a safe environment. The National Curriculum for Physical Education states that all students should be able to become ‘responsible citizens’ (DfES, 2007) through the use of a high quality PE programme adhered to in schools. Many have questioned the role and purpose of PE in schools yet for students there are a plethora of benefits from partaking within PE lessons.
There are the obvious physical benefits; where you are able to stay looking healthy and being able to control weight, or gain muscle to look good but there are also internal physical factors, such as allowing for bone growth and strength (Malina and Bouchard, 2004). Physicality’s are not the only advantage of physical education. Alongside the knowledge gained in lessons, which expands cognitive ability, there are also social and emotional gains to taking part in PE.
The social gains are that students learn to take on other students who they would not normally associate and they have to learn how to socialise around them regardless of their background because they are playing on the same team at school (Fredricks and Eccles, 2006). Also, there is the opportunity for emotional development as students will learn how to win and lose with grace and learning that although the rules may seem unfair they have to abide by them so therefore the students will learn to deal with frustration in a positive way. This will further aid them in later life when hey leave school and have to adapt to working for a living. Within the PE curriculum at GCSE and through Core PE there are various opportunities for cross curricular links throughout the school year and these can help students who may be physically literate but illiterate to develop their own skills, in English and ICT, by encouraging the use of match reports after games. This will also help to develop a sense of community within the students, if they are watching a game with a group of friends it also encourages the team to play well for their classmates.
There are personal reasons for choosing PE as a subject to teach and these are mainly to do with being able to deal with emotions. Being able to take out feelings of anger on a hockey ball at after school practises on Monday and Wednesday’s. It also gave an ability for weight control as many students at school found, they were being picked on for the way they looked or for how much they weighed (Malina and Bouchard, 2004).
In today’s society looking good is one of the main factors encouraging students and children to lose weight and potentially pick up ‘fad’ diets which can be harmful if not fatal. PE is personal because this can be addressed in an appropriate way, encouraging for the participation in a healthy, active lifestyle, which will ultimately make the students feel good about themselves. They will not necessarily notice the differences it makes to begin with but they will notice how becoming good within a certain sport can offer many doors for them at a later stage in life.
Socially and competitively. However, not all students should be expected to be the next ‘Jessica Ennis’, there are students who have a low physical literacy level when coming into secondary school and these are often the students who are most rewarding for teachers. These students are quite often disengaged and unwilling to participate, making them appear ‘lazy’ for the teacher who is trying to get them to join in. Sometimes it can be fruitless (Smith and Biddle, 2008).
In the news there have been reports of the standard of teaching PE in primary schools being very low, yet there are a number of factors affecting this. Primary school teachers just do not have the knowledge to enable themselves to develop an appropriate scheme of work from the curriculum. This lack of knowledge is often shown in bad teaching which lead to poor experiences of PE for those in primary school so when they finally come up to secondary their hatred of this subject is definitely embedded (Silverman and Subramaniam, 1999). One ay of engaging students within physical activity is to offer a wide range of activities for them to take part in. the curriculum at Key Stage 4 (KS4) suggests that students should understand the underpinning concepts in order to deepen and broaden the students’ knowledge, understanding and increase their skill level (DfES, 2007). The curriculum looks at a multi skill approach where sport specifics are no longer included within the curriculum giving teachers the opportunities to include different activities instead of sticking to the old rigid format which includes football, rugby and athletics.
This helps to engage more students (QCDA,2007). The study by Smith et al (2009) looks at hoe activity choice within the UK can help increase the satisfaction students receive from lessons. There are however limitations with being able to offer different activities to students as there are often greater risks involved with minority sports, and also many sports offer an individual element instead of a team or combined effort so one area of the curriculum may not be addressed within that lesson (Smith et al, 2009).
This suggests that many students would have to spend more time in lessons as opposed to the 2 hour suggestion per week. Physical activities are important in the lifestyles of children and adolescents as regular physical activity during this time has a long-term beneficial influence of the individual into adulthood. The movement patters associated with aesthetic activities help to refine motor development in children and subsequently help the child to develop cognitively as well (Davies, 2003).
The movement patterns can be memorised and through the learning and practice of these skills, motor competence and the child’s growth will be affected in a positive way (Wegerif, 2010). Through paired work and group work children are able to increase their social and emotional development through physical activity to reach a common goal. Aesthetic activities and also outdoor education lessons can also help with the development and engage those students who are unwilling to learn. The use of critical reflection and experiential learning (Kolb. 009) can help students increase their self-efficacy levels. The different types of activities that are able to be offered can help school’s address what used to be the ‘Every Child Matters’ agenda (Barker, 2009) by creative sessions which enable the child’s learning to be individual, creating a diverse environment in which they can work (Entwhistle, 1970). This allows for holistic development (Whitehead, 2010) which was previously spoken about by Doherty and Brennan (2008) where PE lessons are about education the child as a whole not just physical.
The outdoor education sessions that can be available in schools draw upon different learning theorists. Kolb (1984) discusses how development is evident through the use of reflection and form reflection learning can happen (see appendix 1). Another theorist was Piaget who developed the notion that problem solving helps social and emotional development alongside cognitive development, helping children to assimilate, take in and make sense of experiences gained and thereby learn for future reference (Piaget, 1962).
There have been many criticisms of Piaget, one of these being that he failed to take into account the social context in which the child is developing (Curtis, O’Hagan, 2003). Both of these theorists, however, look at child development through all years, yet, Steiner and Monterssori look at essentially Foundation stage learning and how this can attribute to personal and social growth.
Montessori has often been linked closely to Dewey whose own theory did not exactly match Montessori’s but both theorists argued that all the child’s senses and emotions are important in contributing to the development of the child (Nielson, 2004) This further solidifies the need for PE within the National curriculum, not just for the cross curricular links, but also for individual development which can be addressed to a better standard than sometimes within a classroom setting.
With the greater expansion of academies, the need for a National curriculum which is adhered to by all schools is essential. The academies can opt out of many subjects such as PE, setting their own agenda and deciding what to teach yet the outcomes are not always positive (Galloway et al, 2010). One of the academies in Dorset still follows the National Curriculum for PE as it gives a guide for the department on the outcomes required for the individual learning (Mullett, 2012), in which all pupils are able to take part and enjoy and achieve within a safe environment.
The current National curriculum allows for the individual growth of all students and develops them holistically, allowing for different experiences where the child can use various skills in controlled situations without there being any danger (O’Hear and White, 1991). It allows for the preparation for working life alongside educational gain while working towards their GCSE’s. The National curriculum hasn’t always been like this though. In 1988, alongside the Educational Reform Act the National curriculum was created.
A National curriculum sets out the guidelines for knowledge, skills and understanding that the society wishes to pass on and convey to the younger generation through their school system (White, 2013). This system has been overhauled and reformed many times since then, the system being taught in school’s today is different from that of the original curriculum and can change depending on political party, for example the new curriculum as of September 2014 will have more of a focus on competition within the PE curriculum whereas the current curriculum has more of a focus on healthy lifestyles and mass participation.
However, only maintained schools have to follow the National Curriculum. In 1993 the first review of the curriculum came into focus, with it being enforced as of 1995( Evans. N, 2005). The first changes to the curriculum came in the form of less testing for students and the content was made simpler and clearer, making it easier to follow for practitioners (Evans. N, 2005). Finally in 1999, a statement of aims and purposes were released to aid practitioners, explaining what the curriculum stood for (Goodson, 2002).
The National curriculum has been looked at constantly for the last 13 years and from this the Early Years Foundation stage was formed, and implemented in 2008, and in 2005, the Secondary Curriculum began to be reviewed. This review allowed for the greater use of personalised learning, allowing the tailoring of each individual subject through the use of a smaller programme of study, allowing for more time and space to support this individual learning.
This curriculum also placed a bigger emphasis on pupils’ understanding of key concepts and processes, including cross curricular links and the development of life skills. This was statutory as of September 2008. This was followed by a change in primary curriculum which focuses on the development of student’s life skills (White,2013).
Overall, this essay has laid out the reasons for going into teaching, the need for PE within the National Curriculum alongside the need for this curriculum to be enforced and finally all the changes which have occurred. The need for these changes will continue to be raised with the ever changing multinational and multilingual society currently residing in our country, this is where the need for the personalised learning comes in. There has to be some guidelines from which to educate the future of the country.
Courtney from Study Moose
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