MLOL Heart

Katy U’ren, Depute Head Teacher, Smithycroft Secondary School

Oct 13,2018 MLOL Blogs

Week 3 thoughts and reflections:

School reflections


We began our final full week at Kapeni Demonstratin School. Having visited this school during our first week, we were aware that the experience at this school would be considerably different due to the size of school (8200), the size of classes (160 approx per class from Standard 1 upwards) and also due to the designated P.E. working area being very open and accessible to all other pupils and members of the community. We were also aware that clear organisation would need to be carefully considered when planning and leading sessions. The Head Teacher and Sports Mistresses were very welcoming and enthusiastic about developing the Sports Leaders initiative.

Learning and Teaching


Starting the sessions with the Leaders in the same way as previous schools proved difficult as many other pupils were attempting to join our sessions in the busy working area. I issued all the new Leaders with a band of material to ensure that they could be easily identified amongst the crowds until I had become familiar with their faces and names (uniform was adding to the difficulty of identifying selected Leaders). We used stones/bricks to mark out the working area which again proved difficult to identify due to the range of stones on the working area and other passing pupils did not identify that these were marking boundaries and not simply on the ground like others. It was initially very challenging for myself and the Sports Mistress to keep the pupils out of the working area and the passing pupils required continual reminders and encouragement to stay out of this zone. But the end of our fourth day, it was clear that the school pupils/community were now very accustomed with the working area and structures and were even helping us to place the boundary stones and keep others out. 

Jenny and I eventually agreed that it may be more fruitful to work as a team in this area and whilst one of us is working with the Leaders, the other is maintaining crowd control. This required reinforcement throughout the 3 days and Sports Leaders may also be involved in this crowd control as the sessions continue following our departure. On day 1 at Kapeni, learning intentions and success criteria proved almost impossible with all of the distractions and interruptions at the working area and in future, I would be completing and discussing these within the classroom working environment before starting in the practical environment. Thumbs up strategies worked well within this busy working environment as did Fist of Fives. Plenaries and exit passes would be best used in the classroom area. 

Day 2 in Kapeni presented further challenges which we had to problem solve with the Sports Leaders to overcome. We agreed that the boundaries for the working area should still be marked with stones and that ten of the Sports Leaders would also prevent any pupils other than those involved from entering the working area. We were able to address the fact that sticks should not be held or used when indicating to others that they must not pass through. The Sports Leaders managed this admirably which allowed the other ten leaders to teach the 160 Standard 1 learners. After leading one activity, the Leaders then changed roles and responsibilities.

As there were 160 in one Standard 1 class, it was crucial that the leaders were well prepared in the pairs to deliver the taught activities of day 1. Leaders escorted fifteen to twenty learners to their designated working when told and could begin their games. We found that circular and linear based games were most effective when leading the younger learners. 

Day 3 at Kapeni: today we did it. Today our Sports Leaders were prepared with the structure for the lesson and they led 160 learners through their 30 minute P.E. lesson. Myself, Jenny and Sports Mistresses were on hand to support when required but today it was possible to see how Leaders could move this initiative forward after preparation and under the management of a Sports Mistress. The Sports Leaders organised relay races and tag games with a human boundary for 160 learners from Standard 1 upwards.

Developing our Sports Leaders Course


We are continuing to develop the use of TALULAR in relation to using self made balls, marking working areas and how to identify pupils. I will continue to monitor the effectiveness of Pedagogy and Equity strategies within this busy learning environment and may suggest that Sports Mistresses train Sports Leaders how to use these to assist in the learning environment in future sessions as these may be difficult to successfully utilise with 130 pupils.

Having experienced the busy learning and teaching environment at Kapeni, Jenny and I agreed that the CPD sessions for these staff should be altered. We were already demonstrating that it would be possible to use the Leaders to lead P.E. lessons. The Sports Mistress admittedly told us that leading sessions with one teacher and 160 pupils had proved impossible until now. She agreed that with the use of Sports Leaders it would now be possible to have more purposeful P.E. on the curriculum. She expressed concerns that only 20 Leaders had been trained and we agreed that the CPD time should be spent with myself, Jenny, Sports Mistresses and the trained Leaders providing the training for another 80 Standard 7 pupils to ensure that different pupils were assisting with the delivery. This proved very successful.

Having managed a session led by 20 Sports Leaders for 160 learners it is evident that the success to these sessions and sustainability relies upon the following:

- Careful shared/agreed planning with Sports Leaders prior to them leading a lesson

- Creating a culture of processes and routines e.g. leaving and returning to the class in the groupings they will be working in. Using a follow the leader approach to movement between areas.

- Clear and consistent structure of boundaries at the working area to allow learners and the wider school to develop an awareness of these boundaries. In the near future Sports Leaders can be utilised for leading games and not reiterating boundaries.

- Giving Leaders time to develop the existing games further - they will have fun and creative ideas of making new activities

- Praising Sports Leaders and providing them with constructive feedback in a plenary following each session

- Provide quality CPD for staff. Allow them to observe a trained Sports Mistress/Master managing a full session with learners and Leaders. Potentially having a Sports Mistress/Master supporting them during their first lesson.

- Allow our trained Sports Leaders/ Sports Mistresses/ Masters to train more senior Pupil leaders.

- The Sports Leaders could now become Sports Ambassadors and 2 of these could become the overall leaders for the newly trained group of Sports Leaders

- Create a timetable for groups of Sports Leaders to ensure that all are having the opportunity to lead and that different Leaders are absent from class. Leaders can be used on rotation.

Young People


When Sports Mistresses addressed Standard 7 pupils about the opportunity of becoming  a Sports Leader through participating in the course, there was an overwhelmingly positive response. 20 were selected and the Sports Mistress agreed that she would attend/observe and participate in the training sessions to ensure that she knew the course which could then be used to train more Sports Leaders when we leave. As mentioned, it was initially difficult to identify pupils, however, after the first session and with the help of the bands their names were learned and our working relationship began.

The crowds of pupils in our designated working area was overwhelming initially in terms of crowd control and management. It became very clear that these pupils had remained in this area because they wanted to help or because they were interested in the activities. Pupils formed crowds around our working area to watch as the Leaders were training. Pupils became very engaged, vocal and motivated when watching our leaders final activity. This crowd were cheering and clapping when Leaders were successful. This was a very memorable, motivating and overwhelming moment moment.

The enthusiasm and commitment of the Sports Leaders on Day 2 was infectious. The Leaders completed their session today by doing follow the Leader physical activities. They introduced a chant and clapping. Seeing 160 Standard 3 pupils being led in this way by ten of the Leaders was the highlight of the Malawi experience so far. This was the most challenging of environments due to the physical space and volume of pupils/crowds yet the personalities, commitment, resilience and determination of these Leaders made this learning experience a very productive and realistic one for all Learners.

Day 3 - I have been overwhelmed by the reaction of the learners at Kapeni to the Sports Leaders initiate. Sports Leaders have demonstrated responsibility, conscientiousness, a passion for learning more and a unique enthusiasm for their new role. I can sense that they feel valued.


Initially it seemed like an impossible challenge to create lasting impact within such a large school with such a complex/unpredictable working environment. Reflections following this sessions allowed me to start to proactively problem solve to ensure that we are maximising Leader productivity in future P.E. sessions.

After Day 2 it was clear to see that a Sports Leader approach would ensure that all learners could now access P.E. and that classroom teachers would be supported with their delivery. I was vey pleased that the Sports Mistresses agreed that they could see this approach working if we were to train more Leaders.

Next Steps

We will use this experience to plan appropriate CPD sessions for this school.