West Midlands PE and School Sport Conference 19-20: The rundown
"The primary years play a pivotal role in the development of physical activity habits" began Dr Peter Collins, addressing teachers from across the West Midlands.
And that’s the reason why, at that very moment on the 6th November, so many were gathered in the West Suite at Edgbaston Cricket Ground.
The West Midlands PE and School Sport Conference brings together those who recognise the first 10 years of a child’s life to provide a critical window for creating a lifelong commitment to physical activity and decide to do something about it.
With the theme ‘Active schools do better’, the fifth annual conference showed teachers both why active schools do better and how they can ensure a prevalence of activity in their school.
Three key components ensured delegates left Edgbaston Cricket Ground at 4.30pm knowing how to craft an active school:
Actionable, proven content from experts that have been in the position of the delegates.
Nine workshops and two keynotes, each delivered by those with extensive experience in supporting children engage in positive movement experiences both in and outside of the classroom.
What did this mean? It meant delegates left with actual strategies they could apply the second they got back to school.
Inspirational speakers weren’t hired. Experts were asked to share what they know and what they know works, backed up with the proof.
And it is that which inspired delegates to act, acquiring resources, experiencing programmes, initiatives, innovations and exchanging details.
And that leads us on to our final component, the forming of those connections.
Whether attending alone, in a pair or a group, the conference was organised to encourage those meaningful conversations. Workshops were an opportunity for individuals from differing schools to get to know one another and share experiences; the Marketplace was a space for delegates to discover the vital and valuable work of 15 organisations, a space to chat and form potential partnerships.
How did the day look?
Two keynotes kicked off the day.
Putting PE at the heart of school life Michael Crichton, Chair, Association of Physical Education
Highlighting just how important it is to take the risks, Mike shared why making changes are vital for improved and sustainable outcomes, so young people can flourish now and in their future.
The research and benefits of implementing physically active learning Dr Peter Collins, University of Wolverhampton
Drawing on studies and key findings, Peter outlined the essential role physical activity has in the development of children. Seeing the percentage decline in moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) across childhood and adolescence in relation to the classroom chair was a real eye opener!
Nine workshops engaged delegates.
Recognising progress in PE Mim Telfer, Co-creator and Director, The PE Hub
Mim shared what progress in PE looks like, how to use it in teaching, how to use it in longer term planning and how it may be relevant to assessment models.
Progress is children improving, whether that’s becoming physically more proficient, engaging in competition, working well with others or developing a deeper understanding of healthy active lifestyles.
Sport and Health Initiatives Tim Aldred, Education Partnership Officer, Active Black Country
Does your PE and School Premium reach ALL pupils?
Do you monitor pupils’ engagement in physical activity?
Do you have open conversations about the health and well-being of pupils with colleagues?
Just some of the questions Tim had delegates discussing.
Primary School Gymnastics Specialism Ryan Bradley, Director, RB Gym & Sport and Michelle Baker, Learning Development Manager, RB Gym & Sport
A room full of gymnastics equipment and the expertise of Ryan and Michelle meant delegates could get stuck in during this practical, learning by doing.
Physically Active Learning – Maths on the Move Andrew Stanton, Programme Development Manager, Aspire Sports
Who needs chairs and desks to learn? Turns out you don’t. Andrew shared how physically active learning can be used in schools by getting delegates up out of their seats.
Deep, rich and meaningful PE. An entitlement for all Michael Crichton, Chair, Association for Physical Education
Inspiring all, Mike articulated exactly how valuable the PE, school sport and physical activity workforce is in having a real impact on the present and future lives of children and young people.
Utilising technology to support learning and boost physical activity James Carruthers, Managing Director, ClueGo
If you were at the conference you may have seen people running around between rooms (and no it wasn’t just Dan!) Groups clutching iPads were on the hunt for treasure, solving maths puzzles, exploring elements of SPAG and experiencing ClueGo Learn.
Supporting children’s health and well-being through a whole school approach Eddie Ray, Director, Progressive Sports
1 in 8 children and young people aged 5-19 are affected by mental health problems. Fundamental to a child’s well-being now and as they grow older is an understanding of mental health and schools have the opportunity to support children with this understanding.
Recognising this significant opportunity, Eddie shared ideas and practical activities with delegates, offering them the tools to support children’s overall health and well-being.
Primary School Dance Specialism Steph Donovan, Owner, Youthercise
Very few have the confidence to teach their class dance, meaning the chance to both reap the benefits and have a great deal of fun is lost. Turns out with some key tips and support from Steph, any uncertainty can be dispelled!
Creating an active school Martine Verweij, CEO, Kids Run Free
Discussing the shocking effect of inactivity upon children, Martine shared just how vital it is for children to have both the opportunity and encouragement to be physically active, only through this can they learn its value.
Not forgetting (we’re pretty sure all attendees won’t for some time!), in amongst all of these workshops was a surprise activity. Come 1.35pm, everyone was showing off their best moves following the expert guidance of Bally from BhangraBlaze!
Before the day could end, something important needed to be covered. It’s no secret that schools can find it tricky to know how to use their PE and Sport Premium, it’s also no secret that some use it to paint more lines on their playground.
With this in mind, Michael McDermott, PE Lead at Merritts Brook Primary Academy, drew on his first-hand experience to outline how a primary school can use their PE and Sport Premium effectively and sustainably. Sports apprentices, teacher training, parental engagement, visitors, clubs, trips; these are just some of the ways Michael proposed, all of which can enrich a school and contribute significantly to the positive impact on pupils' health and well-being.
And now for the much deserved thank yous:
To Birmingham Children’s Hospital, for being charity partner of the West Midlands PE and School Sport Conference. The total profit of £446.50 from the conference is going towards supporting them and their incredible work in making a difference to the lives of children and families.
To The PE Hub, for being headline sponsors. With the theme of this year’s conference being ‘Active schools do better’, The PE Hub’s experience and expertise within the industry, the hundreds of schools they support across the country and the passion they have, meant they were a perfect fit to endorse the message.
To Edgbaston Cricket Ground, for being superb and helpful hosts!
And last but not least, to you, delegates and exhibitors. There would be no conference without you all.
In the words of Michael Crichton, to all of you in the PE, school sport and physical activity workforce “Keep up the great work, your commitment to our amazing subject WILL make a real difference to the lives of children and young people”.
We’re already looking forward to next year and hope to see you all there!
Together we are stronger, we can have more of an impact on the health and well-being of children. At the end of the day, isn’t that what it’s all about?