In the light of Every Child Matters evaluate why your subject (PE) should be part of the 21st Century Curriculum

The Every Child Matters (ECM) programme was developed in 2003 by the government to form a new approach for children and young people from birth to age 19. The Department for Educational Services recognised that pupil performance and well-being go hand in hand, with the aim of ECM for children regardless of background or circumstances to:

* Be healthy

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* Stay safe

* Enjoy and achieve

* Make a positive contribution

* Achieve economic well-being

The five outcomes for children and young people are central to ensuring that effective joined-up children’s services from education, health and social care, provide ‘wraparound’ care in and out of school (Cheminais 2006). A personalised approach to supporting children will mean tailoring learning to the needs, interests and aspirations of each individual and tackling barriers to learning whilst allowing each child to achieve their potential. Throughout this Assignment the importance of Physical Education (PE) within the modern curriculum will be evaluated in line with the ECM and how the well-being of children and young people can be developed.

Schools are changing rapidly and adopting new ways of working to raise children’s attainment, adopting a multi-agency focus and becoming a gateway to a network of learning opportunities. Schools offering personalised learning and services through a holistic approach will become the reality of the future, focusing on the whole child’s well being and not solely his/her learning. The teaching of PE therefore should be considered in such a context to make a significant contribution not only within the education system but also local communities and the nation as a whole.

Following the Physical Education and School Sport (PESS) investigation in 2000 the government set out a national strategy for PE. They targeted schools to provide an enhanced take up of sporting opportunity to 5 – 16 year olds who spend a minimum of two hours each week in high quality PE and school sport within and beyond the curriculum to 75% by 2006 (DCMS 2004) . This target has since been increased to 85% in 2008.

The basic principles of high quality PE listed by the Department for Culture and Media in Sport (DCMS) state lessons should promote young persons’ health, safety and well being and therefore link directly with some of the major policies related to ECM. During all practical PE lessons, regardless of the activity performed, pupils will undertake exercise, a key component to leading a healthy life and linking to the ECM agenda. Regular exercise can also enhance pupils mental and social well being, linking PE furthermore to the major ECM policies.

This could provide a mechanism for improved attainment in other subjects within school, likely to result in improved grades. Recent research has outlined that pupils with higher academic ability (measured in terms of GCSE / A level or equivalent) sustained from school education are present in jobs with higher pay-scales than school-leavers with fewer grades (DFES 2004a) This provides an example of how PE relates to the ECM agenda and assists pupils within school in achieving economic success. A basic principle of high quality PE and sport is that all young people improve and should achieve in line with their age and potential (DFES 2004b).

In conjunction with the ECM agenda and outcome ‘be safe,’ pupils being taught in chronological age at school provides a protected learning environment where teachers can place similar ability opponents in a PE lesson to oppose another. Through matching similar ability pupils of the same age, the likelihood of any sporting accidents or injuries are decreased due to the involvement of individuals during any practice or game scenario. The stay safe principle in ECM is paramount in all PE lessons regardless of the sport played, gender, ability or age of pupils.

When undergoing lesson planning in PE teachers should ensure that the safety of pupils is fundamental. Obviously being an active and sociable subject, during lessons there will be a risk of accidents or injuries but the teacher must ensure they minimise such a risk and take preventative measures to reduce the likelihood of any injury. When planning for a Dodgeball lesson for instance, a teacher conditions the game rules providing regulations such as players are out when the ball is hit beneath the waist and pupils throwing the ball cannot move.

Additionally, the teacher requests when pupils are out, they sit in a designated area away from the game-play. Such conditions, therefore, reduce the chance of any accidents occurring whilst pupils can still enjoy and participate in such a sport. This also relates to the subject knowledge of high quality PE standards set out by the DCMS. The third basic principle of high quality PE states that all young people, whatever their circumstances or ability, should take part in and enjoy PE and sport (DFES 2004b).

By schools providing a diverse range of sports and activities for pupils to engage in, pupils are therefore more likely to be given the opportunity to perform in one or more sports they enjoy. This increases the likelihood of pupils partaking in such a sport during out of school hours. For example a year 7 male pupil having enjoyed and played Rugby successfully during lessons, may seek to further his knowledge and ability within the sport and participate in extra-curricular school Rugby training sessions. This links PE with enjoying and achieving in the ECM agenda.

In addition, such time spent pursuing a hobby in spare time therefore occupies and is likely to improve a pupil. In some cases this could lead to youngsters reaching levels in performance in which they are rewarded financial success through bursaries or scholarships or appearance and match bonus salaries. In such a case, the teaching of PE therefore concurs with the ECM agenda of achieving economic success. Furthermore, PE teachers working with Gifted and Talented (GT) or young professional athletes provide an opportunity for youngsters to develop to enhance performance where a career in sport is possible.

Many professional performers across a breadth of sports can achieve a good salary through wages, marketing, advertising or branding, a further factor which shows how PE teaching relates to the programme of ECM. There are several pertinent aspects that relate PE lessons and the ECM outline. As an example, following a sequence of football lessons a pupil is eager to further improve his football skills and progress within the sport. The pupil has many professional role models who follow a strict training, diet and lifestyle regime.

In order to aspire to such role models, the pupil improves his diet, eating less chocolate and snack foods and attempting to replace them with fruit and vegetables. He also hydrates throughout the day to maximise the benefits of training in order to enhance performance. Such lifestyle changes are likely to benefit the pupil and relate to all topics covered in the ECM. Through improved training the pupil obviously improves his health while enjoying the training and finding improved football performance rewarding.

His friends may also begin to train with him having observed such benefits and his improvement in football. This in particular demonstrates making a positive contribution from the ECM programme. One aspect of such changes to the pupil’s lifestyle following a sequence of PE lessons, could also promote staying safe from ECM. The time spent training and progressing to become a more able footballer provides a stimulus for the pupil and increases his avoidance into any distractions from society.

In detail, school pupils, especially those from less economic or insecure social backgrounds could be influenced by friends or local gang members into illegal activities such as vandalism or drug dealing that would affect their personal safety, learning or economic status. There are various aspects in which ECM is related to the nature of PE teaching within the curriculum. In line with the principle of personalised many sports such as Tennis, Badminton, Athletics and Gymnastics are all individual sports where children’s learning can be easily adapted to suit an individual.

During such sports pupils’ progression, with adequate and effective teaching methods, coincides with the individual’s personal ability and learning speed. For instance, during an initial preparation lesson in Gymnastics, PE teachers assess pupil ability of essential skills relevant to the sport including balance, hand eye coordination, flexibility and strength. In subsequent lessons the teacher can therefore plan a variety of practices working on basic principles of Gymnastics where all members of the class are challenged in a safe, yet structured way to improve pupil ability

In contrast, teachers could also use mixed ability teaching for personalised learning in both individual and team sports through peer assessment. As an example, a teacher provides all class members an evaluation sheet of shooting in football with illustrations and teaching points of the correct demonstration. Pupils then in pairs assess their partner’s execution of the technique and evaluate any strengths and weaknesses. Each pupil then undergoes feedback with their partner for an individualised learning tool, in addition to understanding the principles of a certain technique.

Such assessment indicates how mixed learning and individual subject knowledge can be incorporated into the 21st century curriculum and personalised learning, the basic principle of the ECM agenda. Such a method could be utilised at all levels of PE covering key stage (KS) 3 – 5. Comparable to peer assessment in PE are Sport Education programmes that many schools are introducing into schemes of work to teach and improve the pupils’ subject knowledge within the curriculum from KS4 onwards (PESSCL 2004).

PE departments have recently collated packages containing basic lesson plans for a certain sport covering the schemes of work. This pack is used by pupils to organise and teach themselves the coaching points and principles of many skills relevant to sport over duration of lessons. Throughout the lessons, pupils alternate between roles (such as warm up coach, equipment manager, referee, sport scientist) to enhance their learning. Through such learning pupils therefore work as individuals, in groups and in teams, developing concepts of fairness and of personal and social responsibility.

They take on different roles and responsibilities, including leadership, coaching and officiating. Through the range of experiences that PE offers, they learn how to be effective in competitive, creative and challenging situations. Such a programme that could be accessible to many educational systems not only teaches pupils principles of PE, but also skills that are relevant in a social context that could assist in areas such as the working environment and higher education courses.

In addition these skills could also be applied in theory lessons during tasks such as group work or research to enhance their personal learning. The use of ECM provides an instructive tool in the development of PE teaching addressing many issues across society. PE within the curriculum gives all youngsters access to exercise through various modes of sports and activities which can help tackle issues within society.

In relation to ECM, physical activity can improve a child’s well being and therefore enhance their involvement, impact and positive contribution within society. There is substantial evidence to support the role of physical activity from PE in promoting good health. Within society, of particular concern are the rising levels of obesity. Over the past twenty years obesity levels has tripled, with continuation of such a trend leading to a quarter of all adults in the UK to be obese by 2010 (www. dh. gov. uk).