Sport Education for Exam PE

Perhaps, like me, you have enjoyed using the Sport Education Model to liven up your Key Stage 4 invasion games units and have even started to explore using it with other classes … for example I shared how it works well to modernise the teaching of athletics in this post.

Following a recent visit to observe a trainee teacher who was struggling to create a real climate of achievement amongst his GCSE PE class I suggested he might like to try utilising a Sport Ed approach. The idea went down well with him and then a group of Heads of PE in Slough who I have been working with for some time … so I agreed to share how I would do this in case its of use to you too.

Best Practice

If you are not familiar with the Sport Education Model (SEM) then I recommend taking a read of this blog. In 1965 psychologist Bruce Tuckman explained the important phases of team development as “forming-storming-norming-performing” and as such I would encourage you to create equal ability teams who sit and work together for a whole term. You may decide to have a transfer window at Christmas and Easter or to work up completely new teams each term and if you have more than one GCSE PE group then why not extend the competition between groups. I would also encourage you to utilise this approach across both theory and practical lessons to bring that often much needed impetus to work hard for each other and avoid social-loafing to classwork, homework and more.

It is important to work with your group to fine tune the roles, responsibilities and scoring system so they have a sense of ownership and buy-in to it. However, the following ideas and downloadable spreadsheet will give you a solid starting point.

Roles and Responsibilities

The following roles and responsibilites could work well:

  • Captain – keeps their team in order
  • Kit manager – gets books out in the classroom and makes sure everyone has equipment they need (pens, mini-whiteboards etc)
  • Stato – keeps scores for tests, practical, homeworks etc for their team and maybe even writes match reports
  • Coach – completes warm up task with their team and leads the plennary activity (e.g. sharing their main takeaways from the lesson and a couple of good questions for the teacher)
  • Time keeper – ensures group work tasks stick to time and perhaps sets sanctions for anyone arriving late to the lesson etc
  • Manager/ Catch up King – responsible for ensuring all group members have all their notes up together and if anyone is absent from a lesson they support them to catch up

Perhaps try starting out with teams of 4 or 6 and sticking to the same role for each student for a number of lessons before switching. You could even make little lanyards to explain the different roles (email if you think you would use these and I will set about creating some)

Scoring System

Most schools have a positive points and sanctions system as part of their behaviour management system. However, the advantage here is drawing on that team spirit and competing as a small group within the class rather than just individually. You will want to adjust this to suit your group and consider their thoughts but the following could work well:

  • +1 for arriving on time
  • +5 for whole team starting arrival task first
  • +5 for positive (learning) contributions – asking good questions, trying hard, helping others etc … trying to get that balance of rewarding the above and beyond behaviours rather than getting distracted by having to give points out for every student hand up etc
  • +5 for homework/ flipped learning completed by whole team
  • +2 for responding to feedback in written work
  • +5 for progress with end of unit tests etc against students individual target grades (e.g. if predicted to get a 5 but they score 7 on end of unit test then points awarded rather than just rewarding the best scores in the class)
  • +5 for MVP – most valuable player in different tasks to include performance in game play in practical lessons.

A key to success is keeping it quite simple, the last thing you want is to be distracted by trying to keep track of scores and neglecting high-quality teaching but even just the points for punctuality, homework and test scores going towards team totals could be a real game changer in terms of climate for learning.

Here is a link to a basic spreadsheet tracker you can adapt to suit and capture total points to add in from each lesson – I recommend keeping a running total during the lesson on your whiteboard to ensure it is visible.


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Sport Education for Exam PE