Gethin Thomas, Ysgol David Hughes, Anglesey
Fewer girls are "forgetting" their sports kit, thanks to a
number of new initiatives at a school in Anglesey.
Relaxed rules on sports kit and a move away from traditional
games have had a major impact on girls' participation, according to
Gethin Thomas, the former Head of PE at Ysgol David Hughes.
"We had a moment of realisation when we received the findings of
the Sport Wales School Sport Survey," said Gethin.
"The Survey is a great instrument to work out what the kids
think and what's stopping them from taking part in physical
activity. It really took the survey results in 2011 to realise that
things had to change with the PE kit."
The school took part in the survey once again in 2013 where they
were further enlightened:
"We looked at the activities on offer and focussed more on
health, fitness and wellbeing. We gave the pupils a menu of
activities and they chose what they wanted to do. The importance of
on-going data cannot be underestimated.
"The survey pushed us to listen for the pupil voice. We
introduced shorter, four week bursts of activity and brought in
activities such as tag rugby, aerobics and dance."
Gethin has since been seconded to the Physical Literacy
Programme for Schools (PLPS). In that time, the school has created
its first School Sports Council:
"The survey provided the evidence we needed to set up a forum
for pupil voice. The work of Young Ambassadors and PLPS has also
In turn, enthusiasm and engagement in sport is on the up:
"Motivation has increased - and that's because they have chosen
the activitiestheywant to do."
There's a process to follow with the survey as it requires
pupils to complete questionnaires.
However, Gethin explains it wasn't difficult to sell the
benefits to the Headteacher:
"He could clearly see the benefits of the data - it ties in with
Estyn as wellbeing is such an important part of the inspection.
"There is a huge pressure on teachers in terms of literacy and
numeracy. Physical activity is often secondary to that but the
survey helps to push it towards the top of the priority list."
And the efforts have certainly paid off:
"Staff are certainly telling me that girls are much less
reluctant to take part. They are enjoying all sorts of activities
like the fitness room, zumba, badminton and touch rugby."
And this is having a positive effect on behaviour:
"If they're reluctant, it's a battle from the beginning to
engage them. If they are taking part in activities that they enjoy,
behaviour definitely improves."
If physical activity is to play its part in improving the health
of the nation, Gethin believes things have to change:
"We must look at the children who aren't taking part, don't feel
comfortable and don't enjoy it. And to change that, you need to do
something differently. You can't just have more of the same.
"If I was persuading another school to take part, I would appeal
to them that it allows you to step away from your day to day work
and look objectively at reliable data and how the learners feel
The 2015 School Sport Survey will again look to
highlight the barriers that prevent certain youngsters from being
physically active. To ensure that a true reflection and the
views of all groups are gained, we need as many children as
possible to be taking part in the survey.