CV Life partnership with Coventry University plans to make kids love being active with school PE overhaul

A partnership between CV Life, Coventry University and Coventry School Games will aim to overhaul physical education across the region.

According to studies, more and more children are leaving school with little to no interest in physical activity.

It is hoped this new partnership will combat the issue in Coventry and increase levels of what is known as ‘physical literacy’ among the city’s pupil population

The meaning of the term physical literacy varies from institution to institution, and one thing that is hoped to be achieved from this partnership is that schools in Coventry can agree definitively what it means.

In a nutshell, the term refers to a child’s ability or willingness to engage and enjoy any physical activity.

The partnership kicked off with a brainstorming session at the university which involved the organisations as well as PE Leads and teachers from across the city.

Leading on the project for CV Life is Education Manager Ben Tidy.

He said: “One of the main things we want from this is to make sure we’re developing physical activity in Coventry’s schools.

“We want to create a legacy in each child that sees them enjoying being active in school, so they will continue to do so throughout their lives.

“We’ve been working with the uni for a year, their students have been coming in and working with us, so we’ve been giving them opportunities. With that knowledge the uni brings we’ll be able to create a bit more of an academic approach to PE.

“We want to provide quality provision that is going to be impacting on children on a positive manner throughout their lives.”

Stuart Davoile of School Games said: “Physical literacy is going to become a huge part of the conversation around PE in the coming years.

“What we’re looking at is schools reflecting on what they deliver now, shaping a child’s relationship with physical activity for the rest of their life, literally all the way through.

“There will always be a relationship around ability which can give you confidence and mean you enjoy sport more, but because a child can’t catch well or can’t run quick should not mean that child ends up having a sedentary lifestyle.

“So somewhere along the line that child needs to be made to enjoy PE and physical activity. That child needs to be made to feel brilliant and excited when they put their PE kit on.

“Unfortunately, traditionally kids who aren’t naturally sporty have ended up being put off being active simply because they couldn’t enjoy PE at school.

“We want this partnership and sessions like today’s to break that cycle once and for all. We want to improve everyone’s physical literacy.

“But as it stands, not all the schools fully understand what physical literacy means so we need to change that to start with.

“But the programme needs to be easy to understand and easy to implement – if it’s too woolly or too academic it will be left on the shelf.

“So that’s one of the reasons we’re working with PE teachers so they’ll be involved in the  process as they all know what they’d use and what other schools would too. It will be fantastic for all partners if we can implement it successfully.

“We’ve got Mark Noon and his team from the university who are the brains academically, but they know PE too, and their involvement will lend authenticity to the project and hopefully lead to all schools implementing the plan.”

Mark Noon is senior lecturer in sport coaching and course director at Coventry University.

He said: “We’re trying to develop a legacy in sport in Coventry. We want children to develop skills that will allow them to participate in sports and physical activity throughout their lives.

“For a while we’ve been wanting to create a project with local service providers. Organisations like CV Life and the School Games do fantastic work in the city, so we wanted to harness what they have already into making a programme that is collaborative, reciprocal, that will really make a real difference to the people of Coventry.

“We do lots of research around this but it’s interesting to sit in a room with people who are delivering activity in schools and the same barriers are coming out, and the challenge is to address them and work holistically, but not just in schools, in society generally, to get more kids physically active.

“Stuart and Ben know what sport looks like in Coventry and we want to be part of  the amazing work they do in getting kids in Coventry engaged, getting them fitter and healthier.

“But this isn’t about creating the next Premier League footballer, it’s about physical activity for all, and it doesn’t have to be sport. If people are moving and being active it’s better for their mental health and wellbeing.

“Then if they keep it up throughout their lives, the knock on effect is that healthy adults means less strain on the NHS, then passing healthy lifestyle habits on to their own children.The implication of encouraging a physical literacy earlier on  is huge for everyone.”