Jan 31, 2017
Visit to Sherard Primary School, Melton Mowbray, January 2017.
My overall impression of SAQ based upon a single visit to one school:
- It is a powerful means for involving the widest range of children in physical activity.
- It can play a major part in upskilling young people in key areas of their physical development.
- It compliments and supports almost every other area of school life.
- It can be student-led and to some extent student managed. This is powerful.
- It is inexpensive.
- Schools are missing a trick; actually, the word ‘trick’ is insufficient as SAQ is far more than this. Schools are, then, missing an obvious and critical part in developing the complete student. No more, no less.
OK, so I am completely sold on SAQ and having seen it in action and having had the opportunity to ask questions about the applications in school, I am able to make a few more observations that may help SAQ gain further traction across all phases of the education system. I’d like to learn more and to support SAQ where I can. So then:
- SAQ has a role to play in the secondary sector. I have seen students as old as Year 11, the final formal year of state education, young people whom are unable to catch a ball or even run ‘properly’. I have seen students that almost appear to be dyspraxic because some fundamentals have been missed in the early years of their education. As an aside, I have long argued that the decline of sport and particularly competitive team sort at the primary phase has contributed to the decline in performance of many of our national sports teams. We underachieve, we just do. SAQ is part of the package of measures and wider strategies to alleviate this failure, not just part of the solution to equip young people with better fundamental movement skills. The challenge for me is to see how and where it could fit into secondary schools. I have ideas…
- Build SAQ into PSHE programmes.
- Plan for it and timetable it properly.
- Commit to it in school policy and at a Governor level.
- Report on student progress in SAQ in the formal school reporting schedule, this will formalise it for sure.
- Fund it properly.
- Appoint a champion for SAQ and pay them properly; this will secure accountability.
- Look at building SAQ into the staff CPD programme.
- Build SAQ into performance targets for the school.
- I could go on and on…
- The back end…SAQ programmes generate a tremendous amount of information and this made me realise that there are huge implications and possibilities for cross-curricular work. For example:
- Data processing could be a Gifted & Talented ICT project.
- Data from the SAQ sessions could fit into Maths…in fact, take the science bits into science, write about the SAQ experience in English, draw it in Art and so on.
Many schools are utterly choked by the heavily over-academic dimensions of the new demands they face…Government seems to want a traditional ‘best eight’ subject academic package and this fails to recognise the need for enrichment and for more ‘interesting’ or ‘diverse’ means of engaging with young people. Schools can be dry and boring if they are too academic and many young people are simply not attuned to the best eight subject traditions of, say, schools of yesteryear. SAQ is enriching and counter-balances the risk of dryness.
Feedback from Michael Rennie
Head of School Improvement, Central Academies Trust