New approach to PE proves a big hit at Capital primary

A PE class at Flora Stevenson
A PE class at Flora Stevenson
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IT’S the class that some pupils dread, often sparking a plethora of excuses from youngsters hoping to give it a wide berth.

But when it comes to PE, pupils at Flora Stevenson Primary School are leading the way – smashing the Scottish Government’s weekly two-hour target figure by taking part in activities ranging from scootering to fencing.

The school’s new approach to physical education is so impressive that Edinburgh University is studying the impact it is having on training teachers within the school.

Teachers have received further PE training over the last year to give them the confidence to try a wider range of sports and activities with the children in a bid to make them more active.

Since August last year, pupils have been receiving PE lessons three days a week and a weekly active class challenge, with the week culminating with an optional hour of physical activity on a Friday, which can include anything from hip-hop and aerobics to taekwondo and badminton.

The project is the brainchild of Angela Hutt, PE specialist at the school, and was introduced at Stockbridge Primary in August, with Ferryhill and Granton primary schools set to follow suit from August next year.

Miss Hutt said: “The Curriculum for Excellence had given us the flexibility to provide pupils with opportunities to be active daily. As Friday’s activities are a reward for good behaviour, we are seeing a positive impact on behaviour throughout the week.”

Pupils who behave well throughout the week can build up one hour of “golden time”, which they can use for an activity of their choice on Friday.

As well as sports like fencing and football, pupils have the option of doing something less energetic such as arts and crafts or spending time in the library. The golden time sports and activities take place at Flora Stevenson, Broughton High School, Fettes College and Inverleith Park.

Almost 80 per cent of children chose to do something active with their golden time in September this year, compared with 47 per cent last September and no pupils in August 2011. The percentage of pupils losing golden time through misbehaviour also dropped from 12.4 per cent to 6.8 per cent between September 2011 and September this year.

Depute head teacher Shelagh Dow said the behaviour of pupils had improved over the last year as a result of the project, with the children also showing an increase in confidence, motivation and physical ability.

Mrs Dow said: “They have a real incentive to behave and follow our school rules because they want to earn their golden time. They’re really motivated by that.”

Primary Seven pupil Rebecca Jack, 11, is one of many pupils embracing the project.

She said: “Before everyone was just sitting in the classroom [during golden time] chatting and playing on their Nintendo DSs, but now we can do things like scootering.”

The initiative costs around £15,000 a year to run and is being funded by Winning Scotland Foundation, the city council and NHS Lothian.

Morag Arnot of Winning Scotland Foundation believes the project could act as a blueprint for getting every child in Scotland active every day.

The city’s education leader Paul Godzik added: “This project has really had remarkable results. Alongside the great uptake of activities at school, many are now choosing to partake in sports outwith school time.”