What a wonderful summer of sport we had with the Olympics and the huge success of Team GB and now we are now well into week 1 of the Paralympics! There’s no doubt we are on track with ParaGB having 47 Gold medals (as I write!).
The opportunities for disabled people have skyrocketed in the past 10 years but is this change reaching schools? Therefore, are we truly prepared to be inclusive and adaptive in our teaching? If schools are the launch pad for successful athletes, is enough being done to ensure equal opportunities for PE and School Sport and disabled pupils?
As an NQT I taught in a large comprehensive in London, which had a well-established inclusion unit. As a result, PE was one of the curriculum areas in which pupils with disabilities were included in ‘mainstream’ lessons.
With no training at university and also no in school support I was left to my own devices. I had to try and include children with diverse and challenging needs. Consequently, I was often left feeling deflated that by trying to include everyone I felt I was helping no one.
This was in stark contrast to my second teaching post. There was a specialist centre catering for pupils with severe sight loss. We had regular whole school training as well as additional training as PE teachers. What a difference I could make with this new knowledge and understanding! Over time we developed a cricket team and three pupils achieved a GCSE in PE alongside their mainstream classmates. As a department, we worked with the local sports partnership and started a Judo club which continues to this day.
There have been some excellent initiatives lead by disability sports governing bodies to get individual sports in to schools, with Boccia being an excellent example. However, as a teaching profession, we need to go further and improve initial teacher training and ongoing CPD to be truly inclusive. Without meaning to heap more responsibility on the teaching profession, and gold medals aside, every child deserves to be included in PE.
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