ACTIVE SCHOOL FLAG 2017
What is the Active School Flag?
The Active School Flag is a Department of Education and Skills initiative supported by Healthy Ireland.
The Active School Flag (ASF) is awarded to schools that strive to achieve a physically educated and physically active school community. The process aims to get more schools, more active, more often.
Schools must self-evaluate their current provision across three areas: Physical Education, Physical Activity and Partnerships. Schools must also organise an Active School Week. The Active School Flag is awarded to schools that satisfy all of the ASF success criteria.
To learn more about the Active School Flag Initiative, visit their website www.activeschoolflag.ie
Why Active School Flag status?
Here in St. David’s we regard participation in sport as highly valuable. It not only promotes physical development and well-being but also helps each student’s social integration whilst developing qualities of endurance, reliability, co-operation and leadership.
Our pupils are an inspiration in their enthusiasm for being active. We are proud to say that in spite of limited facilities in our previous building on the Dublin Road, those responsible for providing sporting opportunities in our school remained committed to delivering a varied programme of physical education experiences, from the timetabled weekly hour of PE, to swimming and dance, to hockey, tennis and soccer after school and more.
The achievement of Active School status would give fitting recognition to the enthusiastic contribution made by staff, parents and volunteers not just this year but over many years.
Our Physical Education Programme
The PE programme in St. David’s incorporates all six strands – Athletics, Dance, Gymnastics, Games, Aquatics and Outdoor and Adventure activities.
Our targeting of the Active School Flag has helped us to focus on an improved provision of Physical Education in the school. For further information on our PE programme, please see our School Policies. A folder of lesson plans has been compiled and is readily available to all staff members, in the PE storeroom.
This year, as part of the ASF initiative, it was decided to select gymnastics for development. Our new hall enabled us to give greater focus and attention to this strand of the PE curriculum. All teachers did CPD training in August 2016 with Catherine Knight from PDST and were equipped with a comprehensive handout to teach the skills. The programme is all-inclusive and accessible to all children.
Mats have been purchased and these are made available to the After-School Gymnastics Club also, organised by parents and open to all ages. Boys and girls from Infants to Sixth class are welcome to participate.
The following changes have been made to stimulate increased physical activity in a fun, supportive and positive environment.
In November 2016, we formally re-registered our interest in the ASF. Our new school building, complete with improved sporting facilities, has afforded us the opportunity to effect changes to promote physical activity and to encourage everyone to become more active. We have been very busy in our efforts to achieve the Active School Flag. In addition to our regular PE programme, these are some of the new activities that are up and running in our school now:
- Weekly Walk and Talk : Junior and Senior Infants buddy with fifth and sixth class pupils to walk a route, of approx 1km distance, within the bounds of the campus. Third and Fourth class accompany First and Second class on a similar route, focusing on cardiovascular fitness, achieved by increasing the walking pace and by running up the steps at Piper’s Hill Secondary School.
- 5k Training: 5th and 6th class have embarked on a ‘Kids 5k training programme’ which involves three interval-training sessions each week, alternating walking and jogging to build up the children’s endurance for running. We hope to achieve our target of running 5km together by the end of the school term.
- Brain Breaks/Active Breaks: From Term 2, Junior and Senior Infants have been taking daily brain breaks, such as Go Noodle, Yoga, Mindfulness, Walk, Active games or 5 minute jogging sessions.
Each classroom teacher organises regular movement breaks with her pupils at intermittent periods throughout the school day. Activities used in these breaks are selected from the GO Noodle website, from HSE get Active in the classroom materials, Stand up Sit down games or simply a fitness activity in the schoolyard.
- Active Lines : The ASF committee lead a whole school exercise in the line at the end of small break every Monday and Tuesday. Léim ar an Luan & Máirseáil ar an Máirt. The ASF committee decide what variation of jumping or marching to lead eg jumping jacks/marching with knees up high. Staff members also get involved in the activity.
- After-school Clubs: Children are offered the opportunity to participate in extra-curricular sporting activities, such as, basketball, gymnastics, tennis and cross-country athletics. Junior and Senior Infants have been getting involved with a Stretch and Grow programme in the school hall.
- Gymnastics: This year, as part of the ASF initiative, it was agreed to select gymnastics for development. Our new hall enabled us to give greater focus and attention to this strand of the PE curriculum. Teachers have been making use of the comprehensive handout, which was made available to us after CPD training. It is an all-inclusive programme and easily accessible to all abilities.
- Use of sports equipment at Big Lunch break:
With a view to enhancing the children’s enjoyment of break time, a selection of the school’s sports equipment is used on a rotation basis. Each class grouping is assigned one of the following for a week, beanbags, skipping ropes, cones and hoops and designated helpers are responsible for returning them to the PE storeroom on a Friday, ready for distribution on Mondays.
- Yard rules
Yard rules have been laminated and displayed in focal areas of the playground as a visual reference for the children. Our aim is to facilitate all children to become more active in a safe, positive environment where each one feels respected and valued.
Who is responsible for developing Physical Literacy?
The ASF is a whole school process and encourages a partnership approach.
A strong home-school partnership is crucial as schools can provide expertise and regular opportunities, and parents can motivate children to avail of these opportunities and support attendance. In St. David’s, our parents play a huge role in supporting initiatives. The After-School Club is the brainchild of a very active PTA. The Gymnastics programme and the Stretch and Grow programme have had a huge uptake amongst the children. Parents are always on hand to assist in every way possible in the delivery of physical literacy.
During the upcoming Active School Week, some parents have volunteered to facilitate a whole school Wake up Shake up activity in the school yard at the start of the day. Our annual Sports Day, attended by parents and family members, will take place against the backdrop of a supportive, interactive and encouraging environment, in the facility of the GAA centre in Naas.
Grandparents of former pupils continue to maintain links with the school. Evelyn McNelis and her assistant Paddy Hughes, a current parent, provided training for the recent Cumann na mBunscoil Cross Country Running competition. Evelyn will be coming on board during the Active School Week to give taster sessions to Jnr Infs -4th class. Ruth Moloney provides assistance with our aquatics programme on a weekly basis. We are entirely grateful to them for this commitment.
A ‘Games we used to play’ session will be delivered by Roger Parrow in the course of the active week.
We acknowledge how important it is to be physically active and Active School Week activities underline the importance of this as part of a healthy school community. The Week’s programme aims to further increase the enthusiasm of both children and their parents towards physical activity and lay the foundation for positive, lifelong physical activity habits and for a Healthy Ireland.
The ASF empowers schools to become more proactive in approaching groups like National Governing Bodies (NGBs), Local Sports Partnerships (LSPs), Health Service Executive (HSE), Education Centres and the Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST) to help and support them to develop their PE programmes and to promote physical activity.
Some of our local sports partnership NGBs are providing sessions throughout the week also. We are looking forward to working with Naas Badminton club, Playball and Cycling Ireland. In previous years, pupils who weren’t competent at cycling in advance of these workshops mastered the skill over the session.
We are also looking forward to our newest activities which will be provided by some members of the wider community. This year we are really excited about putting our Go-Noodle experience into practice during our Zumba sessions and similarly we look forward to learning more about The Food Pyramid and food labels with one of our parents, Michelle Coffey.
As we are located on an educational campus, a Post-Primary PE Teacher from Piper’s Hill will introduce our 5th /6th class pupils to Rounders and Volleyball during two active sessions on the grounds of Piper’s Hill PE campus.
Our Active Week will take place in several locations within the community. K-leisure will host our aquatics programme. Our Junior School tour will be going to Avon-Rí Outdoor and Adventure Centre, Blessington . Our 6th class pupils will have an overnight stay at Larchill Adventure Centre.
Here in Naas we are very fortunate to have access to a wide variety of expertise in many physical literacy areas through the support of Kildare Sports Partnerships.
In the coming year, we look forward to maintaining links with our current partnerships and establishing links in other areas not previously explored.
OUR JOURNEY TO THE ACTIVE SCHOOL FLAG
The pupils and staff of St. David’s National School, with the wider school community, have been proactive in their endeavours to achieve Active School Flag accreditation, since first registering our interest in 2012. The process has provided us with the opportunity to formally recognise all the strengths the school has in terms of physical activity while also inspiring us to set achievable goals to enhance our PE programme and engaging physical activity programmes for our pupils.
Our aim is to equip our pupils with the knowledge, understanding, skills and attitudes to make active and healthy choices that will be beneficial to themselves, others, society and the environment.
Our first Active School Week took place in May 2013. Since then, an ASF has become an annual feature in our school calendar.
An example of a typical Active School Week timetable in St. David’s:
Active School Committee
To carry out our Active School application, we need the help of our pupils. To facilitate this we have set up an ‘Active Schools Committee’. We have a member of each class represented on our active School committee who are meeting regularly. Along with our ASF coordinator, they will be carrying out surveys, sharing ideas and performing duties. All our A.S.F. initiatives are achievable, thanks to the joint commitment of the ASF committee and the school community. Well done to all involved, you are doing a great job!!
- PE Storeroom
One of the first tasks the committee carried out, along with willing comrades, was the organisation of the storeroom. They counted the number of each piece of equipment to precision and put it away into labelled cubbyholes. We took photographs of our tidy storeroom, so other coaches will know where each item is kept. These photographs are on display in the storeroom.
One of the highlights of our school calendar is the Active School Week. We are fortunate that coaches from various local clubs have agreed once again to share their expertise and knowledge with our pupils.
It will kick off with Sports Day in our local GAA centre. Sports Day comprises of 30 min slots at six different stations, The Obstacle course, Parachute games, Soccer penalties, Athletics and Novelty Sports, Tag rugby and Sport Art. Parents are actively involved in the organisation of the stations and participate in their own Mothers & Fathers races at the close of the day, not before encouraging the Toddlers to run their race also.
This year, 5th & 6th class will be walking down to Piper’s Hill Secondary School, to use the school’s facilities. Ms. Elaine O’Connor, PE teacher, has volunteered to organise games of Rounders and Volleyball.
The 1st/2nd class will be going on their school tour to Avon Rí Adventure Centre, Blessington during Active School Week where they will be introduced to a variety of water & adventure sports.
Some other new activities we are looking forward to are Zumba and Badminton.
All looks set to be an energetic week.
Active School Week timetable 2017
Given the location of our school and the distance some of the pupils have to travel to and from school, active travel is not a safe option for the majority of our children. However, we continue to promote the benefit of walking or cycling to school when possible.
During ASF, children will participate in a cycling session, facilitated by Cycling Safety Ireland. Children will be encouraged to put newly- learned skills into action afterwards in the safety of their neighbourhoods. During last year’s ASF, Garda Shane Smith gave a talk on safety when out and about. Children are continuing to participate in their Weekly Walk and Talk & 5k Training. Some children have made encouraging remarks such as, ‘ I’m able to run all this way now. This stamina training must be working.’