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Physical activity is a huge influencing factor in pupil health and wellbeing, yet without data or insight, a school is in the dark about the efficacy of its PE delivery.
Being able to demonstrate pupil engagement is important because it illustrates the impact of PE delivery and outcomes, and gives pupils awareness of their own learning journey.
Without a suitable assessment strategy in place, progress in physical education can be difficult to characterise. Children develop at varying rates and have different skills in different areas; therefore progress isn’t always linear.
For this reason, WOW Active was developed.
In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of measuring student progress in PE in an inclusive way.
A student’s engagement is imperative to overall progress and success.
According to the Glossary of Education Reform, student engagement “refers to the degree of attention, curiosity, interest, optimism, and passion that students show when they are learning or being taught, which extends to the level of motivation they have to learn and progress in their education. It may also refer to the ways in which school leaders, educators, and other adults might ‘engage’ students more fully in the governance and decision-making processes in school, in the design of programs and learning opportunities, or in the civic life of their community.”
Student engagement aligns with self-determination theory, which suggests that certain teaching strategies have the ability to impact students’ relatedness to physical education. Need satisfaction was associated with positive affect and increased sporting participation, therefore teaching in line with self-determination theory may improve student outcomes.
While monitoring student engagement levels is of vital importance, there is a distinct lack of tools to support formative assessments for physical education teachers to use within PE sessions.
This is why WOW Active was produced; to help schools implement systematic observation and to ensure that teachers have class time devoted to measuring student engagement.
Factors that impact student engagement include:
According to the Government’s Research Review Series, “in PE, pupils learn increasingly intelligent movement and important knowledge that can reduce barriers to participation and inform their own healthy, active lifestyle choices. PE provides a gateway into the world of sport and physical activity.”
However, the debate has rumbled on about whether measuring pupil progress in physical education sends out the right message.
Some believe that assessments – particularly in competitive situations – could negatively impact student engagement, especially for children who feel physical education is a subject in which they struggle to excel. Assessments could make children feel exposed and apathetic, with confidence indirectly affected.
For that reason, teachers should carefully consider the possible positive, negative, intended and unintended consequences of an assessment task and its outcomes. Without this critical approach to assessment, the commitment to ‘PE for all’ is unobtainable.
But effective PE assessments have an important role to play. They can help to engage, motivate and support children to be more confident in their movement and ability. Assessments can also teach students to be reflective; acknowledge their progress and identify areas of growth.
Assessment should be focused on what PE can realistically be accountable for developing.
While the knowledge pupils acquire can be demonstrated through physical means (such as gross motor skills), physical education also teaches confidence, communication skills and problem-solving.
Therefore, having a robust and well-thought-out assessment structure like that of WOW Active will ensure that:
A programme of ongoing assessment should be built into PE planning, rather than being viewed as a one-time exercise carried out in isolation.
Teachers in PE should use a variety of types of assessment that enable all pupils to demonstrate what they know, understand and can do.
A good monitoring system will identify student characteristics, ability, and physical literacy and match those against individual growth models. If not, monitoring can play a role in creating and reaffirming inequalities and reducing pupils’ motivation.
It is equally important to clearly communicate to pupils and other key stakeholders how pupils’ strengths and areas for development will be monitored and assessed to ensure that what is valued and needed to increase competence is assessed appropriately.
To make decisions about which assessment practices are most effective, teachers need to have expertise in assessment principles, assessment approaches and how to interpret assessment data to inform subsequent teaching.
Every school is unique and has its own significant differences.
A measurement tool should meet the needs of each school and take into account the different needs and abilities of all the children.
A report on individual and instructional determinants suggests that interventions should target students with poor competence and body image beliefs and focus on ameliorating these negative ideations.
Prior research indicates that students’ self-concept and competence beliefs in PE are enhanced through the praise and encouragement of teachers and classmates (such as peer-to-peer assessment) and opportunities to participate in physical activities without judgement.
Assessment approaches for pupils with SEND might need adapting to ensure that all pupils have the opportunity to show what they know and can do, areas of development can be appropriately identified, and feedback is given to improve. Similar to any curriculum or pedagogical adaptation, these must not place a ceiling on what pupils with SEND can achieve.
WOW Active is a programme designed to improve children’s physical literacy and activity levels.
Working with thousands of schools each week, we noticed the lack of robust assessment in physical education and the glaring need for a product to help schools evaluate the impact of their own PE delivery.
Rather than exposing weaknesses or having a negative impact on student motivation, the WOW Active programme is designed to engage students, encouraging them to achieve their personal best.
Using WOW Active, physical educators are able to access Ofsted-compatible data which helps to support and motivate each child throughout the year. Teachers can also track and monitor individual pupils, compare PE class average scores against national averages and identify those requiring interventional support.
A range of additional data can be accessed, including how genders, year groups, key stages, SEN and EAL groups are performing. All this data contributes to measuring the impact of any related PE and Sport Premium spend and how that affects student engagement levels.
Schools using WOW Active identified on average a 24% increase in performance in their physical education class. This included an increase in children participating in fitness and children being more accountable for their health and fitness.
Chief executive of Premier Education, David Batch sees WOW Active as a way to enhance pupil engagement in physical education:
“WOW Active will not only contribute to school fitness, health and academic outcomes, but it will support schools to better understand and analyse pupil engagement. If pupils learn to enjoy and participate fully in PE lessons, they learn from a young age the positive benefits of living a physically active life.”
As well as a tool for schools to shape educational practice, WOW Active gives parents the capability to access their child’s results and download challenge cards for use at home.
Interested to find out how monitoring can support the development of physical literacy and pupil engagement in physical education?
Starting from £395+ VAT, delivery of WOW Active can be tailored to suit the requirements of each school, with our PE experts and specialists on hand to support with training and implementation.
Find out how WOW Active can improve physical literacy and activity levels at your school.