7 July 2022

New University of Canberra program aims to make PE more self directed for young kids

| Aiden Rothnie
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The University of Canberra is running a program with five ACT primary schools to up-skill teachers and give students quality physical education. Photo: Supplied.

The University of Canberra (UC) has announced a new Pilot PE Program that will have UC researchers working with ACT primary schools to up-skill teachers and deliver high-quality physical education for students.

Five ACT Primary schools – Kaleen Primary School, Southern Cross Early Childhood School, Giralang Primary School, Ainslie School and Charles Conder Primary – have partnered with UC for the program which aims to support teachers through virtual lessons without taking up extra time from their day.

The project is run by Dr John Williams and Dr Michael Davies and targets Year 1 and 2 children.

Dr Williams says the project is breaking new ground for primary school education.

“This system has never been used before. It’s a proof of concept that this kind of teaching and learning can be used with such small children,” Dr Williams said.

“It’s been used with older kinds but most teachers just assume that it’s too advanced for younger kids to use effectively,” he said.

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Sophie Newton, a primary health and physical education specialist, will give a weekly lesson at each of the five primary schools.

The project is unique in that lessons will be delivered from a teacher’s perspective using GoPro technology.

The lessons are self-directed, with the school children independently deciding what skill they need to work on most, or what skills they believe they’re proficient at.

All the videos and unit information will be available online for teachers to review, so teachers can watch Ms Newton’s lessons and replicate them using the online information given to them.

Dr Williams said the project aimed to be more student-centred in its teaching.

“We’re trying to get the children to work at their own pace and work towards what we call ‘mastering’ which is key in our personalised instruction system,” Dr Williams said.

“It’s not just necessarily PE. It could be used in just about any subject and it’s about getting away from more traditional one-size-fits-all teaching and letting the kids be self-regulating … this approach has been incredibly well-received.”

The program is being funded through the Affiliated Schools Program, a partnership between ACT Government Education and the University’s Faculty of Education.

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