Done For You — Catch your breath and swim downstream with the help of the I-League

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A Done-For-You model in scholastic swimming

Done-for-you operations are services provide schools and districts with the necessary resources and expertise to help run their aquatic operations more efficiently. Certain levels of energy and engagement are required, however, most of the duties are orchestrated by aquatic experts from the I-League. 

The done-for-you services include:

  • Setting up and managing websites, software and a mobile app.  
  • Creating and deploying marketing messages.
  • Providing customer service and technical support for the community including existing athletes, students, families, faculty, staff, administration, boosters, volunteers and citizens.
  • Coaching education for training staff.
  • On-site coach visits and on-going leadership.
  • Sponsor interactions, easier equipment access. 

ISCA.blue's done-for-you pathway

  1. The I-League manages meets, scrimmages, competitions, recognition.
  2. Turn-key curriculum from U CAN Swim.
  3. Coach recruitment with volunteer and staff education and enrichment.
  4. Lifeguard, first-aid, CPR, swim-instructor training for volunteers, staff and students.

Done-for-you operation comes with an annual investment.

Great value, time savings and outcomes justify the prudent investment. The long-term aim is to realize income from swimming lessons to have off-set the overall program costs. 

The school and its students gain access to experienced professionals who can help them get the most out of the participation efforts in swimming and aquatics.

The done-for-you operations inject competitive aspects, keeping the school community engaged in the region's aquatic economy. The I-League help deliver the latest technology, strategies and options for learning to swim.

Another done-for-you example that most athletic directors understand = Athletic Trainers. More

Done With You

While much is done for you some efforts are done with you. School administrators provide:

  • Access to facilities
  • Access to students
  • Access to staff, faculty, volunteers
  • Access to the greater community
Other business process considerations:
  • Managed Services
  • Outsourced Services
  • Turnkey Solutions
  • White Label Solutions
  • Cloud Services
  • Virtual Assistance
  • Business Process Automation
  • Co-sourcing
  • Consulting Services
  • Professional Services

Outsourcing physical education is a growing policy and practice.

PE continues to change with the employment of external providers, notably sports coaches.

  • Happens frequently in PE in the UK.

Concerns

  • Coaches are not suitably qualified to deliver PE, nor do they have the required knowledge, skills and understanding of the National Curriculum.
  • Swimming should be compulsory in public school education.
  • PE and sport’s educational roles have been increasingly paralleled with a public health dimension in response to wide-scale sedentariness and the associated rise in noncommunicable diseases.
  • Institutional settings are necessary to meet challenging demands of a lack of physical activity during childhood.

Evidence suggests positive benefits of having coaches delivering Primary PE. 

  • For older kids, the evidence base appears limited or non-existent. 


Numerous agencies and researchers have expressed concerns of the low levels of physical activity during childhood. There is a trend towards sedentary lifestyles. The relationship between physical activity and physical health is established beyond doubt, and there are serious costs – both individual and societal – of inactivity.
Less well-known are the potential non-physical benefits of activity, such as self-esteem, pro-social behaviors and academic performance.

Evidence suggests that regular physical activity can contribute to healthy human development and functioning throughout the lifespan. A growing consensus says childhood is of particular importance, both for the benefits it can deliver at that stage and in later life.

Children begin to learn basic movement skills, known as fundamental motor skills (FMS), during early childhood.

These skills form the foundation for future movement and physical activity. In essence, these FMS are the equivalent of the vocabulary of physical activity.

If children cannot proficiently move in a variety of fundamental ways, they will have restricted opportunities for engagement in physical activities later in their lives because they will not have the prerequisite skills to be active.

Primary schools hold a unique role as a context for children’s physical activity. Schools work with a captive audience for significant hours, when they are most receptive for health, attitude and behavior changes

Schools are the main setting for being physically active and developing active lifestyles especially because of economic pressures and parental concerns for safety. Fewer children are able to play games in non-school settings, such as at local parks, or cycling and walking to and from school.

School teachers are not specially trained in PE. Instead, they are generalists, who have a university-level teaching degree, but receive no specialist training. Therefore most have limited expertise in aquatics. Even PE training teachers receive has been claimed as being insufficient and inadequate in preparing them to deliver PE well.

Improvements in PE are required a large percentage of schools, with only 4% of lessons determined as ‘outstanding.’

An emergence of an alternative model of PE, building on an encroachment of private business into schooling. This alternative model has arisen from widely voiced concerns about the capability of many to deliver lessons of a sufficiently high quality to realize our ambitions of positively contributing toward children’s development, and positively influencing physical activity habits.

Other nations are funding efforts to: contribute to teacher professional development; increase the level of competitive sport for children; and educate teachers and children to recognise the value and benefits of high quality PE and how it can be used for whole school improvement.

Governmental, non-governmental, and professional organizations provided guidance about the ways the funding might be spent, which included but was not limited to: hiring Primary PE specialists; providing existing staff with continuous professional development opportunities; running sport competitions; and buying equipment or paying for specialist facilities.

In most instances, head teachers spent the PE and Sport Premium money on hiring sport coaches

Given the financial restraints placed upon schools, getting value for money was an important consideration. Often, sport coaches are cheaper to employ than PE specialists.

The decision of who to employ was complex and often confusing, a difficulty made worse by the fact that few head teachers had training in PE, themselves.

This lack of subject knowledge and the inherent complexity of the situation confronting principals and school administrators is problematic, of course, as it was difficult to identify the reference points for making decisions.

This raised serious questions about the types of judgements being made.

The I-League can rise to meet expectations for more funding support and enrich PE teaching.

However, there is evidence from internal evaluations that some schools have resisted bringing external providers into their schools, while others have taken the opportunity to outsource.

Some teachers can use the I-League as a professional development opportunity.

Not surprisingly, an influx of sports coaches delivering PE can be met with skepticism.

Coaches may not understand the key of planning and assessment. NGB qualifications do not appropriately prepare them to deliver the entirety of PE

In some cases, coaches themselves have acknowledged how little they knew about curriculum requirements.

A study with teachers in Hong Kong found that the employment of coaches reduces principal and faculty workloads, enhances their expertise, and better caters to students’ needs.

Other evidence suggests it can be beneficial for teachers’ professional development to observe coaches delivering PE.

An experimental study showed that teachers who received an externally provided physical activity program, which required them to work alongside and observe PE taught by a coaching specialist, considered themselves to have improved their skills, knowledge and confidence of teaching.

One of the most frequently mentioned concerns has been the fact that sports coaches have been given responsibility to deliver Primary PE despite not having a recognised formal teaching qualification. Of course, the force of this argument is dependent on the suitability of coaching qualifications in different countries, but it does seem to be the case that typical qualifications tend to have an over-riding focus on developing coaches’ content knowledge.

Sports coaches generally have a different suite of skills from teachers, work with a wider range of participants from children to older adults, who usually have different motivations for engagement, and often focus on one specific sport.

So it seems reasonable to assume that most coaches will not have the necessary knowledge, skills and understanding necessary to deliver a statutory school subject, or indeed knowledge of child development.

Is it better that children are introduced to formal physical activities by an otherwise highly qualified educator, who may have no interest in delivering that subject, or by a coach who has sport specific knowledge, but a limited understanding of the wider educational terrain?

There seems little doubt that motivation plays a role in complicating this situation. Evidence suggests that motivation and personal interest direct and sustain learning. Effective learning is somewhat inseparable from emotional engagement.

Coaches are better placed to present positive and inspiring messages about physical activity and sport than generalist practitioners, who in some cases would rather not be there at all. Indeed, the relative youth and enthusiasm of coaches suggests that they might be well placed to act as role-models for encouraging active lifestyles.

Few would deny the potential problems that could result from wide-scale replacement of Primary school teachers by sports coaches in PE, but it could equally be argued that the current situation of generalist teachers covering a subject that many do not feel able to do adequately is equally as problematic.

Delivering quality PE requires different pedagogical knowledge and skills vs. delivering within a classroom-based environment. For example, the way the lesson is structured is obviously different, as are lesson progressions and assessment. What is needed is pedagogical content knowledge which is knowledge of how to deliver, but also what to deliver.



None of these points are with the purpose of condemning the practices of generalist teachers. On the contrary, it is necessary to acknowledge their broad base of knowledge and skills required to teach the whole curriculum and the pressures associated with this. It also does not follow that, as a matter of policy, sports coaches ought to replace generalist teachers in the delivery of PE lessons. Despite the evident difficulties experienced by Primary school teachers, there are those who do feel confident and competent to teach PE (30%, according to Unilever’s survey), and some are genuine specialists, with highly developed and practiced skills. Generalist teachers are also able to make cross-curricular links and are aware of children’s progress in other areas of the curriculum, something coaches have been claimed to not do very well .

It would appear that the shortcomings in coaches’ knowledge could be filled by understandings teachers’ hold, and vice versa. Considering this, a possible strategy would appear to be that teachers and coaches complement each other’s practices.

Primary school aquatics presents perennial problems for schools. It is the critical phase in the development of children’s sporting and physical activity behaviors, yet it is also the only period of formal schooling when children are not usually taught by specialist teachers. This will require new thinking about the relationship between teachers and coaches, and, perhaps, new ways of thinking about their professional education.

Many of the disadvantages associated with coaches delivering PE could be overcome if a relationship was built where teachers and coaches respected and trusted each other.

Indeed, the significance of trust has been evidenced as a positive factor in promoting school effectiveness, as well as playing a key element in supporting peers in the sharing of good practice and learning between professionals.

***

The employment of sport coaches to deliver Primary PE has become common place both in England and further a field.

This has resulted in some academics raising concerns over sports coaches being given responsibility to teach a statutory curriculum subject.

The evidence that supports the use of coaches to deliver Primary PE is also fragmented and not altogether clear. What evidence that does exist suggests that a potentially effective strategy would be a closer working relationship between Primary teachers and coaches, as this may make up for the shortfalls in knowledge and skills of both groups.


About the author 

Mark Rauterkus

Insert YOUR comments in the box at the bottom of this -- and all the other pages. Questions. Insights. re-writes, whatever.

Swim, water polo and SKWIM coach in Pittsburgh, PA, USA. Also the webmaster for the International Swim Coaches Association.

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