Episode 8: Dr Vicky Randall – Children First and Movement Language

Episode eight of the PE Insights podcast featured a conversation between Nathan Walker and Dr. Vicky Randall, a teacher, educator, researcher, and consultant in physical education. Dr. Randall is also the co-editor and author of “An Introduction to Primary PE”. She is currently an Education and Research Consultant at PE Scholar, as well as programme manager at the children’s mental health charity Stormbreak.

Dr. Randall begins by sharing her educational journey, starting from her early days in education to her time at St. Mary’s University in Twickenham, where she discovered her passion for physical education. She also discusses her experiences as an England performance netball coach and her academic pursuits, including a master’s degree in educational leadership and change.

The conversation then shifts to the importance of physical education and its role in helping young people understand their bodies, develop confidence, and navigate the physical world. Dr. Randall emphasises the uniqueness of physical education in providing opportunities for social connections, environmental engagement, and self-awareness.

The discussion delves into Dr. Randall’s work at Stormbreak, a children’s mental health charity that utilises movement to help young people recognise, respond, and regulate their emotions. She explains how Stormbreak takes a whole-school approach to incorporate movement into daily activities, aiming to prevent mental health challenges by fostering a positive relationship with one’s body.

Dr. Randall advocates for creating an environment where making mistakes is accepted, and vocabulary development is encouraged, both in technical and creative aspects of movement.

The conversation also touches on pedagogical approaches in physical education, with Dr. Randall challenging traditional methods and suggesting a re-evaluation of how PE is approached. She advocates for considering the emotional and social responses of students, proposing a shift in how educators structure lessons to promote a supportive and inclusive environment.

Dr. Randall introduces the idea of reframing performance in physical education, urging educators to integrate regular, low-stakes performance moments into lessons. This approach allows students to gradually build confidence and familiarity by expressing themselves through movement.

The podcast concludes with Dr. Randall discussing the use of language and movement in physical education, aiming to create an environment where students feel comfortable expressing themselves. The conversation highlights the ongoing evolution of physical education practices and the importance of considering the emotional well-being of students in the learning process.

The key takeaway messages from the discussion are:

  1. The Importance of Physical Education (PE): Physical educators play a crucial role in helping children navigate their bodies and the physical world.
  2. Child-Centric Approach: Emphasising the importance of keeping the child at the centre of educational decisions. This involves being confident and brave in making curriculum and lesson decisions that prioritise the child’s well-being, even if it means sacrificing some physical activity time.
  3. Influence of Environmental Complexity: Acknowledging the complexity of the environment without overcomplicating PE. It’s crucial not to confuse complexity with complication. Creating space for exploration and mastery in lessons is more beneficial than overwhelming them with rules and structures.
  4. Observation and Flexibility: Encouraging teachers to observe and take a step back to understand how children interact with each other and the tasks at hand. Being flexible in setting up relationships within lessons and allowing for exploration without pressure can lead to positive outcomes.
  5. Reflecting on Behavioural Issues: Addressing behavioural challenges by assessing how children interact with each other and perform tasks. Making adjustments to the setup and allowing for a step-by-step development of confidence in both social interactions and physical performance.

Overall, the discussion encourages teachers to prioritise the child, simplify the approach to PE, and be mindful of the environment in which children learn and interact.

About the Guest

Vicky is a teacher-educator, researcher, and consultant in physical education. She is the co-editor and author of the book ‘An Introduction to Primary Physical Education (Griggs & Randall)’. She is currently an Education and Research Consultant at PE Scholar, as well as programme manager at the children’s mental health charity Stormbreak. I hope you enjoy our conversation. You can connect with Vicky directly via X at @VicksRandallEdu

Listen and Connect

To listen to the full episode please follow these links to Spotify or Apple Podcasts.

If you would like to be a guest on the PE Insights Podcast please reach out by contacting us here or reach out to Nathan Walker via X at @NWalkerPE

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