The future of physical education in primary schools looks bright in Liverpool and Merseyside

The City of Liverpool, famous for a red football team, had another red team in town recently with the arrival of funetics and Katarina Johnson-Thompson.

Hosted by Liverpool & Knowlsey funetics (one of our funetics licensees) and England Athletics – creators of funetics; a demonstration took place of funetics with primary school children from Hunts Cross. PE leads from other primary schools in the area attended to see funetics in action and learn about the potential opportunities for their schools.

funetics with mini hurdlesSupporting the children throughout the sessions and speaking with the schoolteachers was Katarina Johnson Thompson – a three-time Olympian, and gold medallist at World, Commonwealth and European Combined Events championships.

The goal of the day was show how fit-for-purpose the programme is for primary schools in these times when children’s activity levels are reducing, and schools are under increasing time pressures and budget constraints. With funetics easy to access, flexible and affordable programme, England Athletics were keen to show its’ vision for all primary school children to experience funetics and for primary schools to see funetics as the must-do physical activity programme.

A key part of funetics is all about tracking progress and when each level is completed, participants will then receive a video message from KJT – inspiration direct to your very own phone! By following the England Athletics devised activities and stages, every child will not only have a great time, and benefit from expert advice, they will also become fitter and healthier. And parents and teachers will be able to follow it all using the app.

“It’s really good to see the kids have such a great time; they’re all really engaged and having a great time,” says Jack McAlister, one of the teachers invited to experience first-hand what funetics is all about and how it will play a huge role in kids’ fitness in both schools and clubs.

funetics is indeed as it sounds: a fun and inclusive programme to help 4 to 11-year-old children across the country to learn, develop and practice running, jumping, and throwing skills all year round, for a healthy confident future. It’s all about developing fundamental movement skills giving each child the best start in their journey in athletics or indeed any sport: football, cricket, gymnastics – anything in fact.

Katarina with funetics athletes“It’s great to see the kids today enjoying the basics of what athletics provides and really that’s what it’s all about – enjoying yourself,” says Katarina, a huge fan of the programme. Learning the skills – run, throw and jump – at a young age are part of the reason she has developed as an athlete, she says, and it’s something that is vital, perhaps even more so as we all emerge from two years of lockdowns.

“And the kids are amazing. After just one session they all think they can beat me in a race,” Katarina laughs, her Commonwealth gold medal (“Is it gold or chocolate” was one important question!) a big hit among the 30 or pupils who attended the day. “But seriously, it is great to see how this will help the next crop of talent come through. Funetics is hugely important as you learn the basis for each event and the pattern of movement. You can then find the event or sport that works best for you,” she adds.

“I love the idea of what it’s doing and how it’ll encourage kids to breakfast clubs or after school activities. It’s important we rediscover what fitness means as the Pandemic really has had affected kids’ health,” says Tom Connick, another of the teachers taking part in the day.

“I love the fact that it’s all-inclusive,” adds Charlotte Dumbell, a teacher in the Widnes area, close to KJT’s home. “It really is for everybody at every level. And it’s great to see the enthusiasm from the expert coaches,” she adds.

Katarina with funetics athletes

Schools can sign up to have funetics coaches deliver the activities at the school or a school can purchase the Curriculum Licence, giving them access to teacher training, access to the app and activity resources. A school is set to support itself thereafter; and teachers are able to use funetics as part of their CPD.

In addition to seeing the kids in action, teachers were able to explore the funetics app which enables teachers and parents to see programme content and to track a child’s performance at activity and stage levels. Teachers are able to do all their planning and reporting saving them additional desk- based reporting time. “But best of all, you can see how all activities work together and move forward,” says Tom.

After this event, the funetics team at England Athletics is looking forward to more regional demonstrations and meetings with primary school leads; but most of all engaging with our happy and now more active funetics children, as images from the Liverpool event convey.

Katarina with funetics athlete group