Before engaging with the PECS continued professional develop programme from DirectSports, Physical Education was often a subject that caused considerable anxiety to plan and deliver independently. Often, this was due to the extensive subject knowledge required to teach core skills (such as gymnastics and dance) as well as the ability to safely support children when performing particular skills or engaging with apparatus. Since engaging with the PECS programme, I have seen a noticeable and genuine improvement in the level of confidence I have in regards to the subject of Physical Education. This has been as a direct result of the outstanding mentoring that I received by James Gadsby who, due to his infectious desire to get all children active coupled with his warm, understanding professionalism, has helped to guide me – using coaching strategies – to plan and deliver a set of high-quality lessons.
Within a given PECS sequence, skills are introduced, progressed and assessed regularly ensuring that all children are able to actively engage with their curriculum entitlement whilst being successful within every lesson. The succes that the children achieve as a result of these carefully planned and team-taught lessons, dramatically reduces the misbehaviour that, for some, has often been a significant barrier to the successful teaching of Physical Education.
Within the PECS programme my mentor (James) met with me on an individual basis to conduct an initial audit of my skills and confidences. From this baseline, he worked hard to provide accessible weekly plans and made himself available to discuss prior knowledge or content ahead of the lesson. At the start of the programme, the lessons are primarily lead by the team at DirectSports providing you (as a professional) to observe high-quality practice and find your feet. As the programme progresses, James began to shift the responsibility for teaching key aspects of the lesson to me but, if at any point further support was needed, he kindly stepped forwards to support and model the teaching process. This flexibility to work at your own pace; within your own confidence parameters meant that you felt in complete control.
Within lessons, James takes his time to introduce key concepts, skills or apparatus, to both myself and the children to ensure that quality movements and safety were guaranteed. After each lesson, James meets with me to discuss what went well and what next steps could be taken to further improve the quality and impact of teaching. At each stage, the PECS programme (and James) encourage you to reflect on what the potential barriers and successes are to each of the next steps encouraging, through respectful, professional dialogue, you to find the answers and lead your own professional development.
For me, the transformation in my confidence and enjoyment when teaching Physical Education is a direct result of the PECS programme and the outstanding mentoring of James. At no point during the programme, have I felt like my progress was compared to colleagues or that it would be discussed in any way other than in a meaningful and constructive manner. As a result, the quality of my PE teaching has significantly increased and, whilst there is still some way to go to reach the same level of knowledge and expertise as James, it has been incredible to have the opportunity to work alongside someone who is able to make a genuine impact on my skill as a professional.
Mark, I sincerely hope that, as a school, we continue to engage with the PECS programme and that we are able to maintain a working relationship with James. His enthusiasm for the subject; his personable and kind-hearted nature; his endless professionalism, make him a pleasure to work with and, through his involvement with the programme, feels like he has become one of family at St. Andrew’s. I hope you know how fortunate you are to have such a hardworking individual and you should be proud that he represents your business in such an outstanding light. P.S. If you take him from us, we will not be pleased.