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Increasing adolescent girls' particpation levels in PE

Discussion in 'Physical education' started by Fitnessgirl, Apr 16, 2012.

  1. Hello,
    I am interested in a career in physical education, I have completed a sports related degree and had various experience teaching and coaching in primary and secondary schools, and sports clubs. I am currently doing some research in increasing adolescent girls' participation levels in physical education. Dance and fitness have been succesful in doing this but are there more ways in which PE teachers can motivate young girls and increase participation levels?
  2. gogojonny

    gogojonny New commenter

    You need to teach them a sport and provide competitive opportunities from a young age - Year 3. Make them feel part of a team and remind them of the benefits of exercise. Primary schools just don't do this these days due to many female primary teachers avoiding PE at all costs. Many primary schools will have football teams for boys, but often nothing for the girls.
    I have seen that the new trend now is cheerleading. What a wonderful example we are setting children - let the boys play football whilst the girls dance for them! Girls should be playing hockey, netball and rounders. Nothing wrong with dance as long as it is in addition to proper sport.
  3. I was going to agree wholeheartedly... but thgen thought about the squad one of my tutees is in. They are hard core. Competitive cheerleading is terrifying and has nothing to do with any mere boy sport!

    My firm favourite is boxercise.... I used to use it in after schools sessions for the disaffected girls. Went down really well.
    But GGJ is right - teach 'em right at a young age, get primary schools to do more, properly! Don't leave it too late! School - club links are vital if teachers can't/won't get a local club in (though I do think every primary school needs a specialist PE teacher). Physical activity is vital, not an add on!
  4. greta444

    greta444 New commenter

    You are so wrong. Competitive P.E. for girls and boys from Y3 is alive and well. I extend an invitation for you to see a cluster competition, netball perhaps? Rounders, tennis, cross country? We do 'em all.
  5. bigfatgit

    bigfatgit Occasional commenter

    Here's a crazy idea. Why not ask them what they want to do?
    When I taught in the UK, the girls were turned off by the traditional sports (Yep, I'd love to stand around on a freezing cold day in a short skirt playing netball outside)
    We asked the girls what they would rather do and they were remarkably candid in wanting to do things that promoted fitness and body image (compared to some of those "butch" things they were expected to do)
  6. gogojonny

    gogojonny New commenter

    Does every single boy and girl get to compete in the cluster competition?
    Many schools see this cluster comps as a tick in the box for competitive sport. Many do not even bother with intra-events first.
    With cluster events this is what happens - the outside partnership organising it will say to the school 'bring X pupils'. School selects pupils based on 1/2 quick lessons of the sport. Many pupils get upset as they don't get to play.
    Now with any sport (from Y3) schools should have a solid 6 week block of work - followed by an intra comp (split kids into houses). From this a team is put forward to the inter-comp. This way every pupil plays in a team - and is what we need to get girls active in sport.
    I know our Y3s with cricket and rounders season coming up will be playing several schools and taking part in local tournaments, all on top of the house events they will play within the school.
  7. Why don't you try interval trainning as well? I find it as a positive way to keep them busy during the whole class and it is definetly the best way for a complete work out.
  8. gogojonny

    gogojonny New commenter

    Participation for boys and girls declines from Y3, girls decline is faster than the boys. This is why you have to catch them with the traditional sport in Y3.
    At Y3 they all play traditional sports.
    At Y5 you have your first 'drop outs' - boys that hate rugby / football, girls who don't like hockey / netball - thats when you add in individual sports - badminton, athletics etc.
    At Y7 further drop outs - but many of these are competent games players who drop out through choice.Therefore add in basketball, handball, dodgeball etc.
    Last drop out is Y9/10 - this is the point where you add in gym fitness, dance etc.

    The whole problem we have with girls and PE is that they don't start the traditional sports until Y7. Even if a pupil has done it, others haven't so the class is dragged down.

  9. gogojonny

    gogojonny New commenter

    True - it is hard core for the extreme, but the ones in school are just dance classes.
    But these are girls who should be playing sport - instead they are cheerleading. How are we going to encourage girls to pick up a hockey stick when there is a cheerleading class doing a routine to the new Rihanna song?
    I have lost girl pupils from a sports club to a cheerleading club happening at the same time.
  10. bigfatgit

    bigfatgit Occasional commenter

    My students are doing gymnastics, swimming, ball skills, intro skills, invasion games and parachute games. No drop outs
    Mine are now building up from playing "mini" games to football, basketball, volleyball, hockey, striking & fielding, swimming (single sex) and athletics. No drop outs
    Mine are now doing; Development of the ones above plus the introduction of aerobics (girls), fitness (boys) plus adding badminton, tennis and softball. Only drop outs tend to due injury, illness (and in some cases "because it's cold" - outside temp 20 degrees pool temp 30!)
    Development of all of the above. Drop out rate about 2% - slightly higher for girls' swimming due to religious objections to tampons
    I have a 90% uptake for Gr2-4 staying for after school activities (300+ students) plus a compulsory activity session during the day for all grades 2 - 12
    We also have more than 40 teams / squads with students desperate to take part
    My students range in ability from those who just enjoy playing (and gain social and physiological benefits from taking part) to world junior / age group champions
    Looks like we must be doing something right

  11. HelenREMfan

    HelenREMfan Star commenter

    Cheerleading makes/made me lose the will to live ..... the day that they stick boys in skimpy speedos on the sideline dancing and highkicking and suchlike whilst the girls play a competitive team game will be the day I truly cheer.
  12. bigfatgit

    bigfatgit Occasional commenter

    Wasn't there a similar wonderful response from one of the female FIFA delegates when Sepp Blatter suggested that female football players should dress like female beach volleyball players?
    To be honest, if cheerleading gets students, who wouldn't normally participate in anything, moving, then why not?
  13. gogojonny

    gogojonny New commenter

    Fair play to you.
    In the UK it is a struggle with girls to stop the drop outs - I'm not sure what it's like in Egypt but over here various battles are had. A girl may play hockey one day but the next drop out, doll up in make up, and spend their Saturdays hanging outside the local shop.
    Body image with girls in the UK is evident and this is why dance / zumba has flourished - many girls don't have the confidence to play in a team, yet will do a dance class by themselves as it involves no cooperation with other people. They don't so it for the social aspect, they do it to stop getting fat.
    In the UK we need to get girls into sport for social reasons primarily before stating the physical reasons.

  14. bigfatgit

    bigfatgit Occasional commenter

    Occassionally, we'll get veiled girls that claimed that they can't take part in sport as it is "against their religion"
    That's when you start quoting hadiths at them and point out that Mohamed raced his wife Aisha at swimming.
    (For the record; she won the first race and he won the second, so they called it a draw)
  15. Ah, but you should have seen what she had on underneath!

  16. Clothing and privacy are big issues for many girls, especially those who aren't slim or athletic. The opportunity to wear trackies and big t shirts and an exercise space that is not open to gawpers, particularly boys, can be helpful.
  17. I've been teaching PE at a private school now for 7 years that caters from Nursery to Year 11. I see the full spectrum of pupils and the pupils in Pre-Prep (Reception to Year 2) differ massively from the very competitve naturally sporty types to the pupils who find sport "ok". The girls at an early age seem just as competitve as the boys and as they are encouraged to play sport through their time at school, they do without questionning it. Some girls as they get into Year 9 begin to slip however.
    I wonder if society dictates its own expectations on girls subconsciously and are we creating user friendly environemnts for girls to access sport within. Perhaps girls should be encouraged to wear a tracksuit if they feel more comfortable, what do many girls want to achieve in sport? Are there issues of fear of failure in front of friends? Or is it purely that girls are not encouraged to be competitve from an early age as being competitve does not encompass stereotypical 'girly' behaviour?
    The clothing issue is a big one. The swimming at our school is offered to all pupils but in Year 7 and 8 only a handful of girls choose swimming and only four in Year 9. Year 10/11 has no girls.
    I believe we need to radically address how society perceives sport in this country by identifying the expectations and aspirations for girls. The building of strong infrasctructures needs to be implemented to help competitve elite sportswomen achieve their potential and the media must show off these accomplishments. Who has heard of Chrissie Wellington, probably one of the most impressive sports women in recent years in the Ironman event? We must encourage girls that being competitve from a young age is a good thing and to be proud of their ability. Developing the opportunity for girls to achieve in leisure pursuits and alternative sports is also vital to reduce obesity and ensure self belief exists for as many girls as possible rather than this current situation of girls dropping out and later becoming over weight.
    If the activities and tasks set to the pupils when they are young are appropriate to the child's aspitrations (competitve or non-competitve), challenging, realistic and achieveable then all pupils will succeed. The naturally competitve types need to have the opportunity to play team sports and then play for clubs also. The not so competitive pupils need to be offered healthy, empowering alternatives such as Zumba, table-tennis, handball, skipping, badminton, Scandinavian longball, circuits and dodgeball to encourage fun and fitness.
    The only way to encourage sports participation and excellence is to have the infrastructures in place and the question is do we?
  18. bigfatgit

    bigfatgit Occasional commenter

    The clothing aspect does have a lot to do with it.
    Not that long ago there was a student asking for advice on here as she wanted to do Dance as an option but had bad ezcema on her thighs and stomach. The school did not seem to be very helpful by insisting that she wore shorts.
    Any proper PE teacher would have dealt with the matter far more sympathetically
  19. I think the perceived wisdom/standard line is that girls drop out of school sport if given half a chance around puberty due to body image issues and that allowing them to wear track suits and other modest/relatively shapeless clothing can help.

    However, I think the opposite could be true for a lot of them. As they become adolescents they start to get interested in boys and how they look and they are worried that some sports could be seen as 'unfeminine', not helped by some of the kit.

    I teach at what must be one of the very few schools where there is literally *no* sport where girls wear trousers or shorts, they wear skirts for netball, tennis and rounders, leotards for gymnastics and dance and briefs for everything else, including PE, athletics, cross country, volleyball and soccer. The girls like the fact that they're dressing like the top athletes and that the boys think they look good. It is also an incentive for them to eat sensibly and avoid the obesity that is so common among today's young people.

    Sometimes when I read these reports which rehash the same recommendations I wonder whether they should try different approaches and see whether they might be more effective than more of the same.
  20. Alternatively the clothes are a nightmare for the chubby ones, the ones whose boobs came in early/haven't yet made an appearance, have wobbly thighs or are simply not athletically shaped.
    Thise girls feel harrassed by the bys and bullied into feeling they are to blame because they eat too much and go on to develop poor body image, low self esteem and an eating disorder!
    Soemtimes when I read the same reports I can remember the girls they are talking about and how well/poorly they were supported at school!
    But I do agree that the recommendations need to be changed. The focus needs to change from sport to physical activity, lifelong fun and joy in moving rather than that competitive edge (though that belongs in the mix).

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