United Learning's Head of Sport Shares Insights on Promoting Physical Education for National School Sports Week
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As National School Sports Week approaches, we had the opportunity to sit down with Shaun Dowling, Head of Sport, to discuss the commitment to promote sport and physical activity at United Learning. In this interview, Shaun sheds light on the initiatives undertaken by United Learning, our dedication to diversity and inclusion, and our vision for the future of PE in schools. When asked about the initiatives implemented to promote physical education and sports among students, Shaun highlighted several key strategies. He emphasised early recognition of the importance of PE, stating:
"We were one of the first Academy groups to employ a Head of Sport for Physical Education 10 years ago, demonstrating the value which United Learning places on physical education from the outset.
Shaun also discussed the specialist staff and curriculum employed by United Learning. He said: "In partnership with the RFU we, we currently employ two rugby specialists with the hope of more to come. These experts work alongside teachers in lessons and provide them with CPD, whilst also adding capacity for extra-curricular rugby provision.”
“A working group of teachers developed the United Learning PE and Health Curriculum and Assessment Framework (PEHCAF) in 2017. This is made up of three strands: ‘Fit to Perform,’ ‘Fit to Lead,’ and ‘Fit for Life’ - all underscoring the holistic benefits of physical education and sports.”
The PEHCAF is a unique United Learning curriculum framework, but with sufficient flexibility for the traditions and cultures of each school to be retained and celebrated. The work underpinning this curriculum has been guided by United Learning’s aims and ethos, with the resulting content being shaped by our Framework for Excellence. Shaun said: “Through an inclusive PEHCAF we aim to bring out ‘the best in everyone’ by developing physically skilful young people, whatever their gender, background, or prior experience.”
Looking ahead, at the vision for the future of sports and physical education in our schools, Shaun expressed the goal of ensuring outstanding physical education and sport provision for all students, regardless of the school they attend. Shaun explained: “To achieve our goals, key partnerships are essential. We work closely with afPE on several fronts, including a pilot study on treating PE as a Core subject; the Youth Sport Trust on an the innovative ‘World Class to Classroom’ programme, helping former elite athletes into teaching; the Leadership Skills Foundation on the Fit to Lead strand of our curriculum; the RFU, rowing initiatives in Warrington and Cambridge and many more.
As National School Sports Week approaches, United Learning is committed to promoting sport and physical activity across our schools. Through initiatives led by the Head of Sport, such as employing specialist staff, fostering inclusivity, working in partnership with other agencies and inspiring athletes, United Learning aims to instil a lifelong love of physical activity in students. As Shaun aptly concludes, "Our ultimate goal is to ensure that physical education and school sports are an essential part of every student's life, embedded at the heart of school life itself."
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