Why do we need a different approach to teaching athletics?
With both the Olympic and Paralympic Games this year, London 2012 will generate a significant degree of interest in Sport, athletics in particular. Sustaining that interest and nurturing it into potential medal winners for 2016 and beyond will be a challenge. Schools will play a vital role in developing this talent, but have to face up to change and adapt their approaches if they are to make the best of the young talent available to them.
- Pupils’ lives are now more complex - With many competing pressures on their time, and within an environment of instant gratification, they do not necessarily acquire the habits associated with long-term skill development;
- Teacher training - Primary school is a key environment in which to develop the fundamental principles associated with running, jumping and throwing. Yet on teacher training courses primary teachers only receive between 5 to 9 hours instruction on how to teach all sports. In addition, far less secondary school teachers complete a 4 year B.Ed training course and are not familiar with the technical aspect of all the various events;
- Delivery of athletics at school - Many teachers deliver athletics in the way that they were taught, with little year on year progression, and do not feel comfortable with teaching the basics;
- Health and safety regulations - Make it increasingly difficult, particularly in the secondary environment, for schools to teach the technical events adequately even if they possess the specialist equipment, which many do not;
- Shifting the focus from games - Many secondary school teachers come from a games background and feel challenged when teaching gymnastics, dance and athletics. There will be no requirement to deliver athletics within the revised PE curriculum;
- Traditional provision - Much provision is of a very traditional nature, where the perceived need is a focus on measuring performance in order to get teams out for area, district, and county trials or for school sports days.
- Competition - The very narrow athletics focus of only preparing children for competitions (where selection often is based on physical maturity) excludes many children from the opportunity of experiencing aa wide range of events, at which they might excel when they grow and develop.
The following FAQs are intended to throw some light on how to change current approaches.