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Adapting to Change so Sports Leaders can Keep on Learning at Smithycroft

by Sports Leaders,

Posted on the 07/04/2021

In recent weeks and months, needing to be flexible and adaptable to change has become more important than ever with rules and guidance changing regularly around social interactions, groups working together and how best to keep everyone safe.

There’s probably no better example of this than in schools, where the need for learners to continue working towards qualifications is clear, requiring students and teachers to be open to change and willing to embrace different ways of working.

And perhaps nowhere is this more clearly evidenced than in the delivery and assessment of sport, PE and physical activity, where learning has always been a tactile, group scenario where students take part individually or in teams, interacting with their peers and taking feedback from their teachers.

One school which took great steps to mitigate changing rules to keep learners working towards Sports Leadership Qualifications is Smithycroft Secondary School in Glasgow, which is part of a city-wide leadership project run by Glasgow City Council Education Services. The project is a collaboration between schools across the City and Education Services Physical Education, Physical Activity & School Sports (PEPASS) Team.

At Smithycroft, Leadership Courses are delivered by Sports Coach Stephanie Knight, who knows well the benefit of the Qualifications: “I was previously a Sports Leader myself at Smithycroft Secondary School and have come full circle in my leadership journey having completed the qualification several years ago and recently now becoming a tutor/assessor for the courses.

“I have been mentoring Smithycroft Sports Leaders for 4 years now, providing additional training to them in a variety of sports (Athletics, Tennis etc) and good coaching practice.

“Pre Covid-19, we would deliver this training in a practical environment; the Sports Leaders would then go into the learning community and deliver sport specific sessions in the local primary schools. After the block of session delivery, the Sports Leaders would help organise and coach at a competition for the children to compete, for example, a Tennis Festival or Athletics Competition.”

However, the entire landscape of learning and education changed almost overnight when the pandemic took hold across the world. Stephanie explains what this meant to the school and how they took steps to continue learning: “Due to Covid-19, schools have had to move their course delivery and additional training opportunities to online.

“This has involved using the technology available to continue the learners’ progress towards qualification completion. We have been using various software platforms to interact with the learners whilst using video call technology to ensure our learners remain engaged and supported throughout this remote learning period.

“The sessions are designed to be as interactive and engaging as possible for the leaders and have provided opportunities to enhance existing skills as well as embrace some new skills, especially in relation to technology. Although this meant that practical sessions and event delivery could not go ahead as planned, we have been working with the leaders to plan ahead to deliver in the future.”

In addition to changing the way that sessions were to be delivered, this also required a re-think for assessment, with tutors unable to observe their learners putting some of their new skills into practice. Stephanie outlines how this part of the course was carried out in a digital world: “The school maintains regular contact with all pupils and leadership candidates as pupils follow their regular weekly timetable, albeit from home.

“This involves attending live classes via Microsoft Teams, as well as completing set tasks from teachers and tutors.

“Having Learner Evidence Records available in digital format has allowed the pupils to continue towards completing them, and we are particularly fortunate across the Local Authority that all Secondary pupils have access to their own individual iPad – which has helped enormously with staying connected online.”

With so much change to their learning in such a short space of time, particularly involving home working, the need for students to be self-motivated has been greater than ever, adding an extra challenge, but one which can have great benefit for young people in all aspects of their lives, something that Stephanie is a strong believer in: “Pupils are encouraged to follow their weekly timetable but this is underpinned by the message that it is important to strike a balance between completing school work and tasks whilst maintaining mental and physical wellbeing.

“The response from the leaders has been great! Their technology skills have and will continue to develop. After each session, there is an opportunity for the leaders to provide feedback on the delivery of the training – what they enjoyed and found effective, what they did not enjoy and found less effective and any ideas for future online delivery.

“Everyone learns differently so this allows for the leaders to let us know which technique allows them to learn best.”

Looking ahead and beyond the current situation, leadership skills will be more important than ever for young people. Having needed to quickly change delivery plans with her learners, Stephanie believes that while the changing environment might not be ideal, there are potential positives to take from it: “This pandemic has shown the importance of adaptability and perseverance, two vital skills in leadership.

“It has been evident the Sports Leaders are developing these skills. More importantly, these are transferable skills that can be utilised in many aspects of life, post COVID-19 also.

“Lockdown doesn’t stop leadership.”

Find out more Sports Leadership Qualifications from SLQ here and follow Smithycroft’s PE department on Twitter for the latest updates from their Sports Leaders.

Categories for this post: Good News Stories

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