I Have a Dream – Karen Erskine
“Last night I lay a sleeping, there came a dream so fair”…. I stood in the most modern, well equipped, well -resourced PE department that had ever been seen in Scotland, and it was replicated throughout the country. I was astounded at the sheer magnificence of it all. At Last! – A place fit for purpose to deliver high quality Physical Education to pupils in the 21st century.
This vision included a double games hall with dividers, a fitness suite easily accommodating 32 pupils, a dance studio with a wall of mirrors, sprung wooden floor and an integrated sound system accessed at the touch of a button. Also two gymnasia of a decent size with volleyball fixtures and fittings, adjustable basketball boards and portable netball posts making life easier for pupils and teachers alike. One gym was also fitted out with the most up to date gymnastics equipment to allow our pupils to challenge themselves within the Significant Aspects of Learning and the added bonus to teachers that it was an area that was a joy to teach in.
Within the PE department there were two classrooms dedicated to Physical Education where resources could be kept, visual aids displayed to help and enhance the learning of our pupils with interactive whiteboards as well as plentiful whiteboard space for writing on and computer access to allow pupils to view model performances from the many different areas of Physical Education. (bear in mind that some of our pupils have never seen some of the activities that we teach!) One classroom was also fitted out as a computer suite allowing pupils access to research and type up SQA marked work.
A laundry room was also included in this magnificent PE department allowing bibs and strips to be washed and dried on a regular basis instead of going cap in hand begging the Home Economics department to allow PE to use their laundry equipment! Sometimes a wasted journey as the machines would be in use.
Moving outside – I’ve died and gone to heaven – a full size 4G football pitch that could also be used broadways with appropriate fencing (to stop footballs going over the fence into gardens and never seen again) full size grass rugby pitch, 6 tennis courts (enclosed) for use in the summer and doubling up as a hockey teaching area in the winter , an athletics area including 2 long jump pits, 200m running track, 2 caged throwing areas and good storage area as well. Imagine the scope you would have to introduce pupils to a variety of athletics events bearing in mind that not everyone is a fantastic sprinter but one person may be brilliant at throwing or jumping (forgot to mention that here would also be a high jump landing module in place).
Not only were the facilities fantastic but there a dedicated PE teacher in every Primary School ensuring the delivery of 2 hours quality PE a week which is stipulated by the Scottish Government. Having this in place would ensure that the Benchmarks would be embedded from an early age. This would encourage the young ones to achieve through play, helping promote health and wellbeing and developing a lifelong interest in participation in Physical Education
Then the bubble burst – I woke up to reality! I wish I was still in the dream.
Lack of facilities, especially indoor ones, losing Games Halls and adjacent gyms for exams, (twice a year) (we live in Scotland where we can have all four seasons in one day and who thought it would be a good ideas to have lots of outdoor areas- snow, frost, flooding all making a mockery of our all-weather pitches. Why no assembly hall where exams could take place allowing PE departments to continue to deliver their curriculum alongside the other department in the schools.
I salute PE departments throughout Scotland that have to change and adapt almost on a daily basis in order to try and deliver two periods (not two hours) of high quality Physical Education as well as prepare pupils for National Examinations at various levels against all that is thrown at them.
Maybe one day, our dream will become a reality.