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Using core tasks to improve gymnastics skills

The main objective of this work was to raise year 5 and 6 pupils’ attainment in gymnastic activities. In doing this, we also hoped to improve their attitudes to learning.

What did we do?

We adapted a core task from gymnastic activities unit 2 so that it was suitable for three different levels of ability. We then split the group of 22 year 5 and 6 pupils into three groups:

  • four pupils who worked with a teaching assistant on basic skills and coordination
  • a group led by the class teacher who developed skills and a short sequence, and used small apparatus
  • an extension group led by the school sports coordinator who developed skills and sequences, and used apparatus.

At the start of the work, we videoed and photographed the pupils performing the core task and discussed the skills they needed to develop. We taught them a range of balances, rolls, jumps and body shapes over the next two to three weeks, before videoing them performing the core task again. After further discussion and evaluation, we introduced levels, speed and direction over the next two weeks, adding apparatus as appropriate when the pupils were ready.

To help the pupils develop and remember their sequences, we produced a range of symbols for them to use as they worked. The teaching assistant drew these and attached them to Velcro so the pupils could arrange them in order on a laminated strip.

At the end of the project, the pupils performed their sequences to the class.

What difference did we make?

The pupils began to use an increased range of gymnastic movement and their level of performance improved. Their stance, balance and fluency of movement were better than before. Some of the pupils achieved BAGA awards for gymnastics.

Using symbols enabled many of the pupils to remember sequences for the first time, which they found very satisfying. It also gave them a new opportunity to plan their own work.

During the course of the project, there was a marked improvement in pupils’ behaviour in lessons. They developed greater self-discipline when waiting for their turn and those who had opted out in the past wanted to join in. Performing in front of a video and to their peers increased the pupils’ confidence and they were keen to do more gymnastics work.

How did we collect information?

We collected information to show the success of this work by:

  • filming the pupils performing the core task
  • taking photographs to show their skills improving
  • using BAGA awards to celebrate their achievements
  • talking to pupils about what they had achieved
  • talking to the teaching staff involved about their impressions.

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