Multi-Skills move set for September start

The product set to be a schools best-seller has hit the virtual shopping shelves.

The package that will change the way our youngsters learn physical skills is now getting ready to begin its journey to classes, leisure centres and clubs across the country.

Just over a decade since Dragon Sport was introduced for the sporting skill development of children, work to research the best in children's sporting development from across the globe will see Wales launch Dragon Multi-Skills and Sport from September.

News-Latest-PassingDragon Multi-Skills and Sport will focus on embedding basic skills for life such as agility, balance and co-ordination (ABC) before moving onto playing a specific sport.

By arming children with core physical skills, Sport Wales believes that they will enjoy the sports more as they become more competent and confident.

The important ideal is that young people go through a journey from toddler to teenager, with a learning structure around them - in and out of school - that will guide them through developing their physical skills so they enjoy participating in sport.

One part of that journey, multi-skills takes Dragon Sport one step further - giving children the skills they need for the sports before actually moving into the games themselves at the primary school age.

"More than ever, there is an appreciation that if our children are to have a life in sport one thing is certain - they need the skills and confidence from an early age to enable them to take part," says Sport Wales Manager Julie Rotchell.

"We've had a portfolio of resources in place for some time to get young people playing and interested in sport.

"But we think we can take this a bit further and raise the bar even more. If a child has the skills early on in their life then they are more likely to play sport and keep playing sport. It is so important to develop generic physical skills first before moving into sport specific ones."

Working with experts from across Wales and UK, evidence was taken from across the world including from countries such as Canada, New Zealand and Australia.

News-Latest-SchoolThe expectation is that, from the age of three up to 11, children will be set on a path to explore and learn through sport that will provide them with the building blocks to play sport.

From ages three to seven (foundation age) young people best experience skill development through play. Sport Wales' Play to Learn resources encourage this through story books, activity cards and a technical skills manual. There's even a dedicated Play to Learn website with games and activities for parents to play at home with their children. Encouraging parents to get involved in their child's physical skill development is seen as being a key part of the skills for life process.

From ages seven to eleven (KS2) young people should experience opportunities to continue to develop general physical skills in order for them to be able to participate in a range of sports throughout their lives. And this is where Dragon Multi-skills and Sport comes in.

In support, the Welsh Government has recognised the importance of physical literacy and even set out its place as a development skill at the top of the class in importance alongside reading and writing. Running becoming another 'R' in education key skills.

Just like the traditional Dragon Sport scheme, there will be resources, guides and equipment made available to help run multi-skills sessions.

With a pilot project in schools and community clubs successfully completed, the new multi-skills packs are now for sale at the Sport Wales online shop.

News-Latest-Pivot"Feedback from the pilot has included that more children have been attending extra-curricular sessions because of the opportunity to learn more general skills with their fellow pupils," adds Rotchell. "General comments around team sports indicated that participants showed more ability around things like balance with a ball when they had taken part in general learning sessions beforehand."

"The teaching of multi-skills and sport will work in the same way that Dragon Sport does now.

"Before leading Dragon Multi-Skills and Sport session the leader should undergo training from a qualified tutor. We have been up-skilling tutors on a number of levels ready to roll out training.

"Anyone looking to access Dragon Multi-Skills and Sport should contact their local authority sports' development teams for details of training in their area.

"We are looking for schools to join up with their local sports clubs and leisure facilities so that children have multi-skills opportunities inside and outside the school environment. It really needs joint learning and planning if multi-skills is going to work.

"For this to really maximise its potential the school club links are vital for the training to take place in clusters that are ready to work together. We are encouraging a slow roll out to make sure that we are establishing real success stories in this joined up approach.

"Children from a young age love to run, jump, catch and throw," says Rotchell. "If we are able to provide appropriate opportunities to encourage these youngsters to develop a higher level of physical skills, we hope they will have skills and confidence to develop a love of sport."
Stats

• Dragon Sport introduces children to coaching, skill development and appropriate competition using versions of the adult game, modified to meet their needs and skill levels.

The eight Dragon Sports are:

Rugby
Athletics
Cricket
Football
Hockey
Netball
Tennis
Golf

• The Dragon Sport scheme has proved hugely successful in Wales with around 98% of primary schools involved in the programme.

• Over the last year, there have been more than 210,000 registrations for all activities, around 723 community clubs and 3867 school activity clubs.

• The Dragon Multi-Skills and Sport packs can be purchased from the Sport Wales online shop.