PE INITIATIVE CONTINUES TO SET THE BENCHMARKS

29 Mar 2007

PESS

Five years since its inception, Inspectors confirm that Wales’s unique PESS initiative continues to raise standards and improve opportunities for young people to engage in physical education and school sport.

Estyn - Her Majesty’s Inspectorate for Education and Training - has today released its 2006-2007 report on the impact made by the PE and School Sport Initiative (PESS) - the brainchild of the Welsh Assembly Government, managed by the Sports Council for Wales.

The report lauds the scheme as being "one of the most successful education initiatives introduced by the Welsh Assembly Government" and that the "initiative has had a significant impact on improving opportunities, experiences and standards in physical education across the country."

Good progress is also being made on achieving the key recommendations as laid down in the original PESS action plan set down in 2001, and the scheme is reaping the plaudits of Headteachers and teachers of the primary and secondary schools already immersed in its offerings.

Philip Carling, Chair of the Sports Council for Wales today welcomed the report:

"The PESS programme is obviously progressing well and I’m delighted with the findings of the report.

"By creating these opportunities through the PESS scheme, we are rising to that challenge together by helping to create the environment necessary for children to take part in a variety of sports and physical activities on a regular basis – helping to bring us closer to the target of seeing 90% of children taking part in 60 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on at least five days of the week by 2025."


Since its launch in 2002, Estyn’s findings have continued to show that the initiative is having a significant impact - not only on standards of PESS 3teaching and performance - but also on pupils’ behaviour, learning skills and attitudes.

The latest report commends the durable and long-lasting potential offered by PESS, revealing that the scheme "has proved to be more successful and sustainable than initiatives in which specialist visit schools of offer one-off experiences". It also found that the scheme has been "particularly effective" in helping PE teachers and primary subject coordinators to "take a lead in addressing Whole-school issues such as the planning for pupils’ transition from primary to secondary school and the development of key skills".

The report is also quick to highlight that – through the resources supplied through the PESS website and the transferable knowledge gained by the PE teachers – pupils now "know about the physical, social and mental benefits of physical activity and can explain the importance and benefits of exercise to a healthy lifestyle."

Other main findings include:

  • The management of the initiative by the Sports Council for Wales is increasingly efficient and effective.
  • Increased physical activity opportunities for pupils and standards in its delivery have been raised significantly
  • Headteachers acknowledge the important contribution of physical education to the academic, social and healthy development of pupils and support the initiative by allowing staff to access training.

To date, over £7m of Assembly Government funding has been invested into the initiative and nearly 10,000 teacher training opportunities have been provided through the PESS project

PESS was launched with an initial 18 Development Centres – a cluster of at least four partners, including a minimum three schools and post-16 education providers or leisure centres. There are now 72 Development Centres across the length and breadth of Wales and the Sports Council for Wales now envisages that all schools will be involved in PESS Partnerships by September 2009. In addition, every local authority has an appointed PE and School Sport Co-ordinator.

Most development centre primary schools allocate the Welsh Assembly Government’s recommended two hours each week to physical education. However, improving standards is not simply a question of allocating more time to any subject, but must also involve improving the quality of the experience. The PESS initiative has succeeded in making the two hours worthwhile for pupils by offering more and better quality opportunities and by improving the quality of teaching.

The report concluded that:

  • The initiative has helped physical education play an even more important role in developing and improving pupils’ moral, cultural and educational skills.
  • The scheme has had a significant impact on improving opportunities, experiences and standards in physical education across the country.

Estyn have a number of recommendations to make about how the scheme could be improved, including: PESS schools should include PESS in their school improvement plans and identify sources of future funding to ensure sustainability; support primary PE teachers to help develop their expertise in PE delivery.

NOTES TO EDITORS

  • Estyn carried out its analysis following meeting and discussions with:
  • PESS coordinators from 14 local authorities
  • Local managers of five PESS centres
  • Specialist PE lecturers from four initial teacher training institutions
  • Advisers with responsibility for PE in nine local authorities
  • Officers from the Sports Council for Wales
  • PESS Advisers