EUPEA REPORT – North West Counties PE Association Conference, November 2017

Elinor Steel, EUPEA Central Europe Representative

“As an association, and a profession we are stronger than we think”

I had an extremely interesting day attending the North West Counties PE Association conference in Manchester in November 2017. There was a great opening key note by a Scot (Jamie Andrew OBE) in which he discussed his journey from an able bodied mountaineer to a quadruple amputee following a climbing incident – if you don’t know his story Google it! Yet, this wasn’t just an inspirational story but really set the tone for the ‘rally cry’ that I heard about PE needing to over-come adversity due to the current political climate in England.

On more than one occasion throughout the day I was told “you’re in a great position in Scotland”, “we’re way behind here” these perceptions made me smile and think about the numerous heated discussions we’ve been involved with over the years in relation to our curriculum and Physical Education’s place within it. Indeed after listening to three different workshops, and a closing key note, pleading with delegates to go back to school and ‘fight for their subject’ and have the discuss with senior management, governors, parents and pupils about why we need PE I was beginning to feel quite smug about how things are going in Scotland! Then I thought, do we ever do that? Do we ever ask to meet our SMT/SLT etc. to say this is exactly why we need Physical Education? Do we ever have the discussions about the impact our subject has on learners with other practitioners who aren’t also PE teachers? Do we only ‘talk to the converted’? This made me wonder… yes, I do feel we’ve come a long way (although we have lots still to do) but, in comparison to our colleagues south of the border, PE in Scotland is in a generally strong, well supported place. However, how would you argue for our place in the curriculum if it wasn’t as embedded as it is?

I guess what I came away from the weekend thinking came back to the message from Jamie – “believe in yourself, be grateful for what you have, you’re stronger than you think”. For me, that message is as true for myself (those who know me stop rolling your eyes) as where we are with Physical Education in Scotland. We all believe in the value of our subject and we need to articulate this effectively with those who make decision which affect our subject and our learners. We need to be grateful of the place our subject has within the Scottish curriculum. As I heard recently “PE is the heart of a school – if this is working (and beating strongly) everything else will flourish”. As an association, and a profession we are stronger than we think and I am excited when I think about the impact we continue to on our young people and the lifelong legacy of that impact.

Elinor Steele,