PE teachers get professional development workout

Fourteen primary school physical education teachers from government and private schools gathered for two days of professional development last week at Cayman Prep and High School with Jim Lavin, a physical education consultant and teacher trainer from the U.K.

Claire Hughes, head of Primary P.E. at Cayman Prep and High School, had attended a workshop in the U.K. last summer with Mr. Lavin and recommended that the training would benefit other P.E. teachers in Cayman.

“One of the key points I came away with last year was that the 4-11 year old age group is at a fundamental stage in motor and skill development and because of that, we need to broaden the Primary P.E. curriculum, exposing children to a wider range of activities that lay the foundation blocks for later life,” Ms. Hughes said.

Following discussions with Clive Baker, senior policy advisor for the Ministry of Education, Mr. Lavin was invited to share his expertise with P.E. teachers in the Cayman Islands.

“Physical education is extremely important for developing a healthy, active population as well as future sports talent,” Mr. Baker said. “Jim Lavin has an international reputation for promoting exciting and engaging programs of study to meet the needs of students, parents and the local community.

“Those of us who attended his training were not disappointed – we enjoyed two full days of practical sessions which reinforced our understanding of how to achieve developmentally appropriate success for all students whilst still supporting excellence, achievement and enjoyment.”

Mr. Lavin said he was impressed with the professionalism and dedication shown by the teachers on the course. “The primary age range of 4-11 years is often undervalued in terms of providing the key building blocks of health and fitness; the lessons learned here can last a lifetime. These are the skill-hungry years where children want to learn,” he said.

Mr. Lavin was head of physical education at the University of Cumbria and has won a number of teaching awards, including the Association of Physical Education (U.K.) main teaching award in 2009. He has published widely on physical education issues and has presented at many national conferences in the U.K. and the U.S.

“The course was very informative and inspirational. It created an opportunity for new ideas to be utilized in the delivery of P.E. lessons,” said Rickey Sealy, Sir John A. Cumber’s P.E. teacher.

Prospect Primary coach Mark Sullivan said, “It was excellent to see the private and public schools working together and sharing practice and knowledge that will benefit every child in Cayman, irrespective of their geographical or financial background.”

Gill Comins from St. Ignatius Catholic School, who had previously heard Dr. Lavin speak at a P.E. conference, said, “Having Jim Lavin visit the island was an excellent opportunity for primary physical education specialists to come together and network, to be aware of different approaches to the delivery of the physical education curriculum and to provide focus for future development and strategies in this area.”

The need for a P.E. Teachers Association has also been identified, and Ms. Hughes said she has offered to lead this initiative, with an aim to continue to improve the quality of P.E. in local schools.