Head of Department: Mr Ben Wassell
The role of physical education and sport in the overall development of each pupil at St James is a vital one. This is reflected in the time dedicated to games in the time-table. Each pupil spends three afternoons per week engaged in a variety of sporting activities. In addition there are numerous opportunities to become involved in extra-curricular activities such as sailing, climbing and outdoor activities.
With so much time being devoted to sport it is vital that each lesson is meaningful, fulfilling and enjoyable. A central theme for our physical education programme is that each pupil is encouraged to fully participate and make sport an integral part of an overall healthy lifestyle. In order to achieve this it is important that an environment is created in which the pupils feel safe and comfortable to take part and be the best that they can be.
Primarily it is important that all pupils receive expert tuition. The acquisition of skill gives pupils more confidence and a real sense of achievement. As they improve they are able to become involved in more competitive situations. Sensitivity must also be employed, particularly when dealing with contact sports such as rugby. All of our teaching and coaching staff are highly qualified in their field with a great deal of experience teaching secondary age pupils, both inside and outside the school environment. Having staff with this experience also opens sporting clubs and organisations which can be utilized by our pupils. Joining an external club is less daunting when a familiar face is on hand to help with the initial steps. Young people who are members of sporting associations before they leave school are more likely to continue to play sport after they leave school. This obviously contributes to a healthier lifestyle.
Each lesson is carried out in a disciplined framework, where there is a mutual respect between staff and pupils. Pupils must feel confident to ask questions and be a equal partner in the learning process. This requires constant feedback based on questions and answers, with the answers, wherever possible coming from the pupils. This process will enable each one to make his own personal contribution.
Whenever possible pupils are taught in mixed ability groups, particularly in the Years 7 & 8, and primary in this are the safety aspects of the sport being taught. Grouping is carried out according to ability and physique. Generally the boys are taught the same technical aspects but with those with more ability being gradually put under more pressure by introducing them to situations that make the completion of the tasks more difficult. Equally those with less ability are given the time and space to develop at their own rate. The pressures applied, either singularly or additionally are numbers of techniques required, time, space, opposition, fatigue and decision making. These will remain constant throughout the life of the pupil.
As the pupils develop the strategic needs of team performance are explored. Individual and team skills are constantly practiced. As these skills are honed pupils may be exposed to more competitive situations. These can be as simple as small sided games in lesson time to house competitions or inter school matches. It is important to balance the ratio of practice time to competitive team matches. Exposure to competitive situations before adequate preparation can be counter-productive as can a lack of competition. Care must taken to take the stage of development reached by each individual and group when making these decisions. We have a full fixture list across a range of sports and are increasingly able to produce A and B teams in each year, particularly at rugby.
Sport obviously provides an enormous variety of experiences for young men. It is important, however, that pupils are given the time to fully understand a sport and begin to master the techniques required to enjoy a sport. With this in mind there are no options offered in Years 7 & 8. In these years the boys concentrate on mastering the skills of rugby, cross country and soccer in the two winter terms and cricket, tennis and athletics in the summer. It is hoped that in these three years the boys will gain a solid grounding in the disciplines of these major sports and develop a positive attitude to the physical education programme as a whole.
All of the sports on offer are staffed by expert coaches with extensive experience. The extent of the choice is a reflection on the stage of development of our pupils and will allow them to concentrate their efforts on a new set of skills with the time to take on a new sporting experience.
Many of the disciplines learned in the sporting arena are transferable to other areas of a pupil's life. Personal skills such as initiative, integrity and a sense of fair play have an important place in the classroom and the school as a whole. It is also important to impress on the boys the importance of personal responsibility and co-operation without foregoing a competitive approach.
Our physical education programme is designed to encourage the pupils to view sport as an integral part of their lives, encompassing leisure, employment and the long and short term role that exercise has to play in healthy lifestyle. Sport has a very important place in our national and international culture and as such should form a part of any well developed individual.
The results, fixtures and information regarding each team can be found on our sports website.