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Posted in: General

Does political correctness or health and safety regulations interfere with your coaching strategy?

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  • This may be a difficult subject to address for coaches for fear of causing unintentional offence. But divisive though it is, if the answer is 'yes' then it merits discussion.

    I will give an example: A multi-skills coach is becoming more and more frustrated at Primary School teachers ‘dumbing down’ their sessions. A firm believer in enforcing a ‘can do’ mentality in children to help build their fundamental movement skills, he says he is noticing more and more how young children are prevented from attempting anything that might infringe health and safety guidelines. The act of climbing onto a stage in the school hall and jumping off is a definite no no.

    I’d be fascinated to hear your thoughts on the pros and cons.

     · Jon Woodward, Gary Fowler and 1 other like this.
     
  • Wow a hard one Blake,  I think it all depends in which schools are being worked in. It's down to the discretion of head teachers themselves, how confidant the teachers are at the delivery of certain PE subjects and the confidence of children themselves.   I have worked in many schools and find some head teachers are quite happy long as you have done a risk assessment and not putting pupil's in great danger, they are happy for pupil's to be a little daring.

    When you talk about not allowing pupil's to jump off a stage yet teachers allow pupil's to jump off a gymnastics box. if not performing gymnastics correctly could potentially cause harm to a pupil.

    Take a look at  cross country running, this uses many multi skills, running, jumping, agility, change of direction, stopping, starting yet the risks are very high,   *** holes, puddles,  mud, snow, rain, tree roots, falling branches, slippery leaves. yet schools are quite happy for pupils to run in cross country events.

    I'm a level 2 multi skills coach.  I love coaching multi skills it's fun, exciting and kids love it.   Maybe teachers don't have a very good understanding of what multi skills is and how to coach it. 

     · Jon Woodward likes this.
     
  • Very brave of you Emma, thank you for your input. I love the examples you have given, especially the cross country. My wife is head teacher of a Primary School and your first two paragraphs describes her approach perfectly.

     · Jon Woodward likes this.
     
  • I think it's about talking to head teachers,  teachers about PE lessons getting to know what they understand about different sports, what they do and don't feel comfortable coaching. I have been into many schools to help teachers develop there own knowledge and understanding of PE and multi skills sessions,  making the session fun, exciting and inclusive, how to change a session to make it easier or harder and of course so teacher's can see progression from pupils and the confidence grown. Over the past 2 years I've helped a few university students studying primary school PE.  They have watched many of my sessions and from this created there own sessions to which I have watched and given constructive feedback from both the session,  planning preparing health and safety, this has helped them develope in teaching PE.  I feel the more teacher's watch coaching sessions and also take part the more confident they will become and develope themselves and pupil's and not be put off of the health and safety side. 

     · Jon Woodward and Blake Richardson like this.
     
  • A potentially divisive topic but one that is faced every day!!

    My philosophy is you learn by doing! You understand how to walk by falling over as babies, you learn to climb by climbing, you learn to jump by jumping, etc, etc....

    These experiences should be 'managed' but not 'controlled'. The challenges Emma mentions within the school environment can be applied to life as a whole. As a family, my girls swim, play tennis, go to gymanstics, go running through the woods, go to adventure playgrounds -  the environments and situations are 'managed' by me or their coaches. The reason my eldest daughter can climb to the top of the rope in school (which seems a rarity in school they are even allowed to bring the ropes out) is that she is encouraged to do so by the teacher and her experiences else where.

    The development of Fundamentals skills does not just promote sports particiaption and expertise, but supports the basic functions of walking, sitting, lying and the transitions between all of these. I use the example of my daughters' school - they are a busy primary school of 4 classes in each year group. At times like lunch, if someone falls over in the corridor, chaos can inevitably follow, but with the development of fundamentals of the faller being able to regain balance, people around them having the ability to dodge, jump, avoid, turn quickly, the 'blockage' may be shorter - these are learnt from playing and jumping and climbing!!

    There is an inherent risk of being hurt or injured when taking part on physcial activity, and the cross country example is an excellent. I am not advocating dangerous play or environments, but children (and adults!) need to learn to manage risk and danger - something they have to experience to a degree, and not be shielded away from it.

    I'll step down off my soap box now - but I am not allowed to jump off it though... wink

     · Emma Tomlinson and Gary Fowler like this.
     
  • Honestly, not much at all with me. However, with teachers, yes

    What I mean by that is, I feel confident to push the boundaries with the risk/reward balance but more often than not I see teachers who asren't.

    If I pitch the level of a multi-skills session appropriately and assess the location/facility etc I am happy enough within a H&S envifornment.

    Teachers however are often reluctant to let kids try things, partially due to safety (or second-mothering in primaries) but tied in to that is an uncertainty over PE etc as they've had little training and no CPD so they are overly cautious for fear of injury and responsibility. The H&S argument often seems like a mask for this from my experience.

    Many times teachers who are watching or helping with my sessions remark that they'd be too uncertain to let the kids do that, or had no idea the kids could try that. I don't believe that's their fault as primary teachers get zero PE style training after graduation here in NI. So I 100% get the multi-skills coach's frustration with the dumbing down. 

    I have given demonstrations and advice to play and early years staff too and it's the same reactions. In fact in a nursery setting I've almost had to restrain teachers who want to prevent kids falling etc. What's the worst that can happen? 

    I actively cheer when the first kid tumbles or fall during a session, the class celebrates it because that's part and parcel of it like Jon says. Nothing more pleasureable than seeing a kid bounce up and crack on. It's alien to teachers but they see the impact and knock on effect. 

    The stage comment sturck a cord with me. In the webinar I was part of I noted that watching kid's inability to jump up, swivel and land on their bum on a stage highlighted to me how poor basic movements are in our children.  

     · Jon Woodward, Blake Richardson and 2 others like this.
     
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