Making PE Visible.

Making PE Visible to Parents.

As a parent of two primary aged children, it is difficult to work out what they are doing in PE. I ask every time they have a lesson. In truth I get fairly little out of them about their whole school day; “How was school today boys?” “Good” they both exclaim! That's normally all I get.

I am very invested in knowing about all aspects of their schooling but given the work I do, show particular interest to PE but I know so little. I have never been shown a curriculum map, told about what the children are learning, seen any assessments of either child or had dialogue of any nature on the subject, despite asking.

Comparatively I have recently started coaching my son’s U7 football team, which during a difficult time has provided such joy particularly since the return of grassroots sport. The Sunday mornings and training really are great experiences, for me as the coach and father but also for the children and their parents.

Seeing children; move, play sport, learn, connect with others, experience success and failure, laugh and cry, is all on display to parents, it’s been really magical. The buzz and energy that has come from the games on a Sunday morning has been powerful. My son’s engagement in the sport has increased further, he is now counting the days until the next match, it’s been a hugely positive aspect of this year and experienced by children and parents.

Grassroots sport creates that visibility as parents stand and watch games and training, so they have a clear understanding of what is going on, their child’s physical and technical competency, social skills and enjoyment/engagement.

These positive aspects of grassroots sport are happening in PE lessons schools every day but we never see it, hear about it, know little about it and thus it remains largely invisible as a subject.

Children are given homework in phonics, numeracy and literacy and through this we have a clear understanding of what they’re doing and how competent they are at it. In addition, great examples of work are sent home, stickers/certificates awarded and on parents evenings class teachers discuss classroom based work.

At Moving Matters we assess every child we work with in our schools, share this information but does it get communicated back to parents, sadly I doubt it. How many primary schools across the country communicate this information and thus increase the visisbility/profile of the subject.

We use social media a lot at Moving Matters, to tell stories and create visibility across the range of school or community based services we provide. We want to share the experiences the children in our care have and create that greater visibility to parents and the wider community. Increasingly schools are starting to do this but largely it's classroom based activity that is evidenced, one Lambeth school however, St John the Divine post regularly about PE lessons which is great to see. I would encourage more schools to do this in an effort to share better with the parent community.

A new measure we are currently piloting to improve visibility of activity and develop awareness is the use of miMove.

miMove is an app developed by academics, Greg Dryer and Marcella Griso and used by students to record their activities during the day/week. Children record the duration of time active, the environment and how they felt whilst doing it. This will not give us a visual on PE lessons or school based activity itself but it will increase our awareness of it and in particular the experience of children.

So we are really excited to start using miMove as it puts the process of uploading activity in the hands of the child but shared with the parent. This I hope will open up more conversation about the PE lessons or after school clubs they take part in, their enjoyment or otherwise. It will provide us all with information which creates greater visibility and ultimately one hopes, encourage children to be more active.

Rob Wilkinson