Senior Active Young People Sports Development Officer:
The Active Young People (AYP) team in Swansea have had a representative on the school health network meeting (HAPPEN), since the network was established. It was felt that it was important to have a representative within this meeting to ensure that extra-curricular sport and physical activity requirements are discussed. It was also felt that as a main provider of support within the area it is important that we help to deliver consistent messages.
As a department we have been actively involved in the delivery of Swansea University‘s Swan-linx and CHAT . The network meetings provide a platform for us to liaise with schools to create links and discuss the results. The Swan-linx programme helps to strengthen partnerships with schools, and provides awareness of the service that we provide to local schools. The results received help AYP Swansea to inform sport and physical activity delivery across the City, ensuring that the needs of the young people are considered within our approach. It can also help us to identify specific areas of need and work with other organisations such as National Governing Bodies to ensure sustainable opportunities are available for young people.
The multi-faceted approach to the network enables AYP to work in partnership with other organisations and draw on resources across the city. We have seen links in other areas not just education following these meetings. A lot of organisations are providing similar services and it is vital that we work together to achieve aims. The network helps to achieve our aim of ‘Every child hooked on sport for life’.
When we received our data pack, we were very concerned to discover that out of the boys and girls in year 5 and 6, 36.9% of the boys and 33.3% of the girls were considered to have an 'Unhealthy Weight' (Body Mass Index). This meant that approximately a third of our children were overweight and therefore at risk of future complications in later life. We were also alarmed to discover that, despite St. Thomas out performing the average shuttle run scores across all schools, there were some children (boys and girls) who struggled to run 9 shuttles ( 9 x 20 metres). Our average score was enhanced by some children excelling in this area. The highest score completed for the boys was 92 shuttles, the highest across all of the schools assessed (93 x 20m). Meanwhile, the highest score completed by the girls was 64 shuttles. This indicated that we have a spectrum with two extremes which has has levelled out our total average. Our concerns were obviously with children who scored poorly during this activity. An additional concern was that during the pupil questionnaire, 62.2% of children reported to be happy or very happy with their fitness. This means that 38% of the children were not happy with their fitness and are aware of the fact that they are not 'fit'. The average across all of the schools who took part was 83.3%. This could also lead to issues around their body image and their self esteem. Despite the school placing a great deal of emphasis on health, fitness and well being, it was clear that we needed to increase the profile even further. The best way to ensure that Health, Fitness and Wellbeing remained a priority for the school was to put it into our School Development Plan. This is a document that identifies the most important school priorities for the next 3 years. It is also something that the school shares with its Governors and our Challenge Advisor and we have to give details of our progress against these priorities. We have also increased the opportunities that the children receive across the school, continuing our partnerships and developing new partnerships with 360 Sports Centre and the Dragon Sports Officers. The Dragon Sports Officers carried out a staff training session after school, developing the confidence of all teachers. In addition to this, we have also reflected on our own PE lessons, trying to ensure that they are of a higher tempo and involve all children increasing their heart rate for longer periods of time. We have always carried out high tempo warm ups and structured cool downs but we then considered how long the children were actually active for during the main part of the session. Were they standing still while practising skills such as passing a football, hockey ball, etc.? How active were our gymnastics lessons?We have also tried to bring a more active element to other lessons, such as spelling, where children run to match up words with matching phonemes, spelling patterns, etc. Finally, the Year 5 and 6 children are taking an active role in managing and assessing their own fitness. Every month they complete a fitness test based on goals that they have set for themselves. They work with a partner to measure the distance that they have been able to run during a set time and keep track of their results and record their data. This gives them some ownership over their personal fitness. As the years progress, we aim to develop the children's experiences and enjoyment of PE and encourage them to be active members of society.