What have PE and sport ever done for us..?

by Derek Peaple, Chair of both the Youth Sport Trust's National Headteacher Strategy Group and Berkshire School Games Committee

Those of a certain age - or with a particular taste in comedy - will recall an iconic scene from the 1979 Monty Python Film, 'The Life of Brian'. In it, members of The People's Front of Judea debate what 'benefits' their Roman oppressors have brought them, ironically concluding, 'All right - but apart from the sanitation... the medicine... education... wine... public order... irrigation... the roads... the fresh water system... and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?'

It’s with equal irony that I therefore now pose the re-phrased question:  What has the use of PE and sport across the curriculum ever done for our students? My own response, based on personal experience at Park House, is that it has shaped their wider learning in three related areas.

Curriculum Enrichment

PE and sport offers unique opportunities to enhance learning both within individual subject areas and thematically across the curriculum. For example, Park House School gave students an opportunity to identify iconic Olympic moments which are then recreated in a researched genre.  This has given rise to an impressive art ‘Legacy Gallery’, which includes two personal favourites: a Munch-inspired interpretation of Seb Coe's Moscow ‘Scream’ and Ben Ainslie riding the crest of a Hokusai 'Wave!

Social, moral and cultural development

In terms of cross curricular and thematic learning, our Olympic and Paralympic 'Values Days' have now become an embedded feature of provision. These days are central to students' social, moral and cultural development. Most recently, we used a day to focus on equalities, using Paralympic sports as a vehicle for challenging views about disability and diversity. Tutor Groups have also worked with Paralympic Gold Medallist Danny Crates to produce a series of 'Living the Values Documentaries'. Filmed by Sixth Formers, these focus on what each of the Olympic and Paralympic Values might mean when applied in a school context. The series provides a basis of our tutorial and assembly programme.

International Partnership Working

PE and sport also provides a focus for our international partnership working. With Sithengile High School in Durban, we have developed the concept of a 'Values Passport' where students debate, in their differing contexts, what might be deserving of a 'stamp' in relation to appropriate behaviours, attitudes and actions.

So, what exactly has the PE and School Sport ever done for your students....?  And what more can it still do?