1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. Hi Guest, welcome to the TES Community!

    Connect with like-minded education professionals and have your say on the issues that matter to you.

    Don't forget to look at the how to guide.

    Dismiss Notice

Setting Vs Mixed ability in PE?

Discussion in 'Physical education' started by mrcush, Nov 25, 2011.

  1. Hi all
    We currently teach groups in PE set by sex and ability, however are considering converting to mixed ability (still single sex) and I'm looking for peoples thoughts/ advice...
    Pros? Cons? Any literature supporting either.

    Thanks guys
  2. stopwatch

    stopwatch Lead commenter

    I think that (presuming that the activities/curriculum is the same for boys and girls) setting, mixed is the best option.
    I worked in a school a while ago where we set for PE and it worked really well. The more able can be challenged properly and the less able become more confident and willing to participate instead of feeling intimidated.
    I would have thought it was common sense, you can think of the pro's/con's quite easily.
  3. We have recently gone from setting from Y4 to Y9 to teaching in mixed ability groups. It is working reasonably well and the general attitude of the classes is positive as the kids who are stronger get an opportunity to help their friends and then they know that they can achieve at higher level in the squad trainings.

    I still set the kids for Year 4/5/6 netball and at certain points in the units for hockey and rounders because we are finding that the ability gap and maturity range is just too great to get the most out of them all in a lesson. All other units, dance, gym, volleyball, xc, athletics, football, tennis etc are mixed. Most kids tend to set themselves when necessary anyway.

    The secondary school kids like their lessons mixed. Primary like a bit of both!

    Nothing academic, but just 9 years of lots of different systems.
  4. Thanks for stating the obvious. However, the decision is being taken out of our hands by senior management. I am looking to gather the thoughts of other PE specialists in an effort to reinforce our own opinions.
  5. stopwatch

    stopwatch Lead commenter

    That wasn't clear from your first posting.
    Although I have only ever worked with setting in PE in 2 schools, it worked well and I prefer it.
    You can set the work more easily to the ability of the children. you do not have to spend time differentiating your lessons so much, both the more able and the less able feel more motivated/less frustrated, improvement rates are higher, you can arrange a different curriculum dependant on whether you are teaching lower/higher groups (ie higher groups can do more challenging activites/sports), lower abilities self esteem is improved and they feel less intimidated/'useless'
    It isn't always possible to do due to timetable or curriculum limitations, you can be accused of 'elitism', parents of lower group children may insist they are in the wrong group, some children differ in ability across the activity range so not always easy to identify which group they can go in, lower ability children can feel labelled, it may not be possible to move children in between groups if they improve so they may be stuck in the wrong group for the year.
    That's about it...... for now
  6. gogojonny

    gogojonny New commenter

    I would say the decision is out of your hands and it's clear what was happened.
    You have had a more able PE group. Parents will have complained that their child is not in thr top group, hence the decision to mixed ability.
    My view is that PE should be mixed ability - you can differentiate enough activities for the whole class. But Games should be by ability - A,B and C teams - and be linked into regular fixtures.
    But many schools still do not have this clear separation of PE and Games. Many schools still don't have regular fixtures. It baffles me how a school can run a Year 9 session on football, and then have to run another football session after school for the team, why not run it in the lesson? But Parents don't see this, and they will assume that is there child is not in the top group then they will not be picked for the teams, get opportuities etc.

  7. stopwatch

    stopwatch Lead commenter

    Why set for Games but not for other activities (where did you get the idea of calling non- games 'PE'?)
    By games do you mean major games or any games - tennis, volleyball, water polo, table tennis, softball?
    I have actually changed my previous views and agree that it is OK to consider using PE time to coach more able groups for school teams.
    Not always possible though due to timetable and curriculum constraints
  8. gogojonny

    gogojonny New commenter

    This is the thing I have never understood with this country and PE / Games.
    PE is fitness to me - pupils learn to improve their flexibility, endurance, speed, stamina etc. This is through gymnastics, health related exercise etc.
    Games are activities which students put their new found abilities towards - football, rugby, netball etc.
    PE is mixed ability. You don't go to a gym and see different fitness classes for different abilities (maybe a beginner session). Most decent fitness instructors can run a class for all abilities. The circuit class I attend has 15 exercise, and each exercise has 3 levels of difficulty so we decide what we are comfortable with.
    Games must be setted. I have tried to do football sessions before with academy players and those who can't kick a ball. You can differentiate but overall it is a rubbish session - the more able want to be with the more able, the less able want to play at their own level.
    But this country calls Games PE. So much time is wasted teaching very able pupils skills they already have. Why should a Country Badminton player learn a Level 5 badminton serve when s/he learnt that 5 years previously? Lets get back to teaching kids fitness and then encouraging into games activities appropriate to their ability.
  9. There are only two types of people on the planet; those that can play volleyball and those that ruin volleyball. [​IMG]
    Mixed ability in games is fine for individual drills and practices, but when put into the game situation, the divide means good students hogging the ball and poor ones not touching it. It doesn't work (for me..)
    Some years ago in a staff v students VB game, the kids team was our school team and soon realised that Mr. X couldn't play and basically aimed at him all day. He seemed to enjoy himself and wasn't too bothered about not being very good.
    But I wanted to kick his head in.... (and I've left a word out of that sentence...).

  10. Hello,

    Definatley setting for reasons others have mentioned.

    We tried mixed ability for a while, but found that the girls were often intimidated by the boys, while the boys, particularly the most able held themselves back and did not progress as they should.
    We have gone back to setting and single gender. We have however allowed flexibility so that the AGAT girls can join the boys in non contact sports. These are the girls whose ability is similar to the boys and have the attitude that they won't be intimidated.
  11. stopwatch

    stopwatch Lead commenter

    (1)Where do you get the idea that PE is fitness? PE (as I am sure you know) stands for Physical Education. The whole subject (Games, gym, athletics swimming, HRF etc etc) is PE.
    (2) Again fitness is NOT PE.
    (3) 'This country' (?) calls Games PE. Not as far as I know.
    So Games is always separate, and all Games come under the heading 'Games' and done in the 'Games' lesson as opposed to the PE (ie in your mind - fitness) lesson. So in the Games aspect of your curriculum you manage to fit football, rugby, hockey, tennis, badminton, table tennis, volleyball, basketball, netball? how do you do this?
    So PE is fitness. This includes Gym, HRF and possibly Trampoline? what else do you do in PE?
    I don't get it.
  12. gogojonny

    gogojonny New commenter

    Let me explain...
    For one I don't like calling gymnastics gymnastics - it is fitness and in particular work on flexibility. Gymnastics is preparing routines for performace, vaults etc.
    Physical education should be that pupils learn about speed, stamina, endurance, flexibility, coordination etc. Pupils then have the skills to apply to sports. Swimming comes into this as endurance / speed.
    Now there are your traditional games sports - rugby, football, netball etc and your net/wall games - tennis, squash, badminton. It is up to schools how they sort this out but the common sense approach is to provide games like rugby for all from a young age (Year 3) and then add in net games as they get older but providing a club (lunchtime / after school) also.
    In the UK our pupils are very very unfit. They don't know what endurance means. If they get two lessons a week (if they're lucky) they will get someone doing some 'ball skills' outside and then someone doing some indoor relays inside.
    How does this:
    * improve their fitness. What aspect of fitness are they working on?
    * give them an opportunity to take part in proper sports? Ball skills are very nice but the private school down the road is teaching them to play rugby and netball, fostering team spirit, determination and promoting life long fitness.
    If you go to any sports club they have one training session a week and one fixture a week. That is PE and Games - PE is the physical training (can relate to a sport or just be pure fitness) and Games are the opportunity to play competively (be it rugby, badminton, tennis etc).

  13. stopwatch

    stopwatch Lead commenter

    So basically a lot of this stuff is simply your interpretation of it rather than any formal decision or trend or specific national re-interpretation of what 'gymnastics' , 'games' 'PE' should involve?
    You don't like calling Gymnastics Gymnastics - what's that all about? Don't call it Gymnastics then, but don't kid yourself that you can do a fitness session and call it gymnastics.
    I am willing to be corrected and would be interested to hear if this is a National shift/reinterpretation of what PE/Games/Gymnastics is all about
    Gymnastics is not fitness, otherwise it would be called fitness. It's like saying tennis is coordination, because tennis is a game 'because I think it is'.
    A lot of what you say simply seems to be 'what you think' and not actual fact.
    Your rationale just seems very disjointed, frustrating to read and dare I say rambling - there is little real logic based on true fact.
    Just read your last sentence and tell me it makes sense in the real world.
    I know we've been here before but I can't read what you say without thinking you are way off kilter in your understanding of PE, Games, Gymnastics, fitness... and don't even get me started on your comment about swimming.
  14. gogojonny

    gogojonny New commenter

    There is a coordination activity you can do with kids where they throw the ball against a wall with their right hand, and catch with their left hand. The problem is that in lessons people go straight into tennis and don't cover coordination - you need coordination to play tennis. Hence we have kids who can't play tennis - checked out the ATP rankings recently? Andy Murray is only there because Mum paid for him to learn tennis in Spain.
    Gymnastics minus the routines is fitness. The British Gym association recognise this by including fitness awards in the British Gym Awards Scheme. The moment you put in routines and performance it is gymnastics, but again we try and teach the sport before the kids have the skill.
    There is a shift towards calling lessons 'ball skills' instead of sports, but this is happening far too late (like Y6). Ideally it should happen in Years 1 and 2.
  15. stopwatch

    stopwatch Lead commenter

    There are lots of coordination activities you can do to promote hand/eye, foot/eye, fine motor and gross motor skills. This doesnt mean Tennis IS coordination. Coordination is a just one of the many things which make up the game of tennis (plus power, speed, agility, balance, endurance).
    How do you know people go straight into games when teaching tennis? what percentage? which age range? does this opinion come from research or just your own head?
    Gymnastics minus the routines is NOT fitness. Fitness plays a part in the activity which is Gymnastics - plus balance, agility, power, strength, speed. If I do a handstand on its own, it is still Gymnastics. A 'routine' as you call it is a series of Gymnastic activites linked together. It is not the routine that makes it Gymnastics.
    You're just making it up as you go along I'm afraid.
    Can you answer the question - are all of these ideas and theories of yours, simply that - ideas and theories which you have made up/decided upon based on your own experience and thoughts?.
    I have never seen such an abstract way of describing what is essentially the subject of PE
  16. gogojonny

    gogojonny New commenter

    PE should we where pupils learn to educate themselves physically.
    I went to a school with a very bad PE department when I was young. We were thrown into sports but not educated physically. I could hold a hockey stick, run with a rugby ball but hadn't a clue about the key aspects of fitness. My coordination was not great and as such I was bad at cricket and rounders. The PE department did not do much skill work, but even if they did if was brushed over all too quickly. This is not a theory or some wacky idea - you need one lesson a week on pure fitness (not sport). PE therefore to me is strength, speed, endurance, flexibility etc. Sport is how we apply those aspects of fitness.
  17. stopwatch

    stopwatch Lead commenter

  18. wrldtrvlr123

    wrldtrvlr123 Occasional commenter

    Quite right. Our weekly staff pick up games (int'l school in China) had dwindled down to 3 on 3 and we were quite happy, as everyone playing had a reasonable amount of skill and we all had a great time/workout after a few hours of playing.
    THEN, some of the local staff got wind of the games and started showing up to play in boots, work clothes etc, and hadn't a clue about how to play. We attempted to be good sports, but after a few weeks in a row of ruined games and encouraging them, we all just drifted away.
    Luckily we persuaded the AD to make the faculty vs. -19 boys team by invitation only, and crushed them in a most enjoyable manner. [​IMG]
    Personally I'd rather play two on six then have the team padded with four players that are an instant point for the other team (and my wife and I have always enjoyed playing against our starting six when we coached v-ball). We could always beat our middle school teams and even our varsity team in Egypt (Alex), although sadly this was not saying much.
  19. Are you an ex-AD of SAS in Alex?

Share This Page