Doing School Differently

Successful schools are innovative schools, they are not scared of change but rather they embrace it.

At the moment, the entire Irish educational system is a results driven business.  A students entire six years in secondary school revolve around trying to achieve a certain number of points. This time may be better served helping to develop students to become better prepare for life when they finish school and enter the so called “real world”. This is where schools should shift their focus towards.

What is somewhat surprising is that despite what is called the evolution of the “knowledge society” (Hargreaves, 2003) secondary schools have been quite resistant towards of the influence of reform movements, despite already being set out with a lesson by lesson schedule and a subject based and age graded curriculum. What the knowledge society wants to promote is human rights, therefore it promotes and also offers inclusive and equal access to all creation of knowledge. Throughout the world education is now seen as a human right, this means however that it must continuously change and grow over time. The modern world has seen the need for the demands of education to change. Unlike the past, simply attending school is no longer seen as a benefit to the pupils. School must now strive to prepare students for life after school, be that attending university or going directly into the workforce. This change means that it is not only students who will need to learn but education professionals as well. As leaders of the changing designs in learning, they will serve as a bridge between life and teaching (Van Weert, 2006).

There are endless different ways in which schools can “do school differently”. One way I think would be to include mental health programs. Mental health is a hot topic in today’s world. The majority of people now know the seriousness of Mental Health and how difficult it can be for people to deal with. While in recent time the stigma of mental health is slowly decreasing, secondary schools are still an area where the topic needs to be addressed. If students can be shown that it is quite normal to suffer from a mental health issue and that help is always available, then a huge step in removing the stigma has been taken. The difficulties with this however is that it would require training of the teachers to a high standard, and teachers should also show that they are there to support the students in any way possible. The aim of this program would allow teachers to spot students who may be suffering from possible mental health issues and take the necessary steps.  To help promote this program schools should consider bringing in public speakers to talk about mental health. Conor Cusack (former Cork hurler) is a name that springs to mind. Allowing students to get a direct insight into a person’s battle with mental health issues can hopefully allow them to help peers or family members who may be suffering. This program has the power to save lives. Successful primary prevention efforts will help to play a crucial role in reducing the need for treatment and prevent unnecessary suffering in young people who will otherwise never receive any formal mental health care (Durlak & Wells, 1997).

This is just one idea for a change to schools across the country. There are hundreds of other possible ways of improving schools to benefit the students. Taking on board just one can save lives and prepare students for life..




Durlack, J.A, & Wells, A.M. (1997): “Primary Prevention Mental Health Programmes for Children and Adolescent – A Meta-Analytic Review”. American Journal of Community Psychology, Volume 25, No. 2.

Hargreaves, A. (2003): “Teaching in the Knowledge Society – Education in the Age of Insecurity”. New York: Teachers College Press.

Van Weert, T.J. (2006): “Education of the Twenty-First Century – New Professionalism in Lifelong Learning, Knowledge Development and Knowledge Sharing”. Education and Information Technologies, Volume 11, Issue 3-4, Pg. 217-237.








Physical Education lessons including students with Cerebral Palsy

The culture of physical education classes in Ireland is one of kicking a ball around a field for an hour. This stereotype has been eroded in modern times due to the professionalism of newly qualified teachers. This change of culture helps to create an inclusive atmosphere and environment, one where all kinds of students can thrive. Physical educators are all the time asking the fundamental questions regarding the most effective ways to give all students a professional instructional programme which meets individual educational needs (Tripp et al., 2007). Often in PE classes students with a disability (either mental or physical) can be left out or excluded from activities. This behavior is simply not good enough as every student has the right to partake in Physical Education classes. It has been shown by contemporary theorists that a students feeling of belonging is majorly important to a students motivation to learn (Glasser, 1986; Maslow, 1970). There are two main types of exclusion  which students are likely to suffer from: Functional exclusion and Complete exclusion. Functional exclusion occurs when the PE teachers include a student who suffers from a disability in the class, however their experience is not meaningful for the student, but rather a token gesture. This often happens went teachers ask students to keep score. Complete exclusion is instead when a student with a disability is excluded completely from their peers during the class.

As already mentioned a positive attitude of the students in the physical education classes are key to a successfully run course. On the other hand, excluded pupils may be felling frustrated or hurt when they are prevented from taking part in the activities (Falvey et al., 1995). This is why the focus of this particular task is to create a PE lesson which includes two students with Cerebral Palsy. What is crucial to remember is that the inclusion of students is not solely achieved through the adaptation of equipment and games ( Rizzo & Lavay, 2000). But rather inclusion requires the use of strategies and techniques based on assumptions and representing a community like culture in PE (Lieberman, James & Ludwa, 2004). What is also needed to be remembered is that game adaptation and changes are for everybody and not just the person with a disability.

I believe that basketball is perfect game for the inclusion of all kinds of students, including students who may require the use of a wheelchair. While the game may be adapted, it still remains fun for the whole class. Some of the possible changes made to the rules of basketball would be as follows.

  • The height of the rim can be lowered.
  • Requiring ALL passes to be a bounce pass.
  • Students using wheelchairs can hold the ball on their lap while pushing the wheelchair.
  • Using smaller courts so multiple games can be played simultansiously. This promotes inclusion and all students to take part.

While researching this topic I also found Rounders to be a game which can easily be adapted to suit students with a disability.

  • The use of Velcro balls and mitts can be permitted, This will help to make it easier for the students with the disability to catch the ball but also keeps the challenge of striking and fielding for the other students.
  • Shorter bases for students in wheelchairs, this allows them to compete at an equal standard to the other students in the class.







Lieberman, L.J., James, A.R., and Ludwa, N. (2004): “The impact of inclusion in general physical education for all students”. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (JOPERD), Volume 75, No.5, Pg. 37-41.

Maslow, A. (1970): “Motivation and Personality”. New York: Harper and Row.

Rizzo, T.L., and Lavay, B. (2000): “Inclusion: Why the confusion?” Journal of Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (JOPERD), Volume 74, No.4, Pg. 32-36.


The place for creativity in Education




Craft, A. (2005): “Creativity in Schools – Tensions and Dilemmas”. University of Exeter and the Open University.

Griffin, P., McGaw, B., & Care, E. (2012): “Assessment and Teaching of Twenty First Century Skills”. Springer Netherlands.

Johnson, D.W., & Johnson, R.T. (2007): “Theory Into Practice – Making Co-operative Learning Work”. Taylor and Francis.

The Possibilites for ICT in PE

The modern world has evolved due to the use of Information communication technology (ICT). Most people use ICT without even realizing, the role ICT plays in modern life is incredible and very much taken for granted. While ICT has found its way into our everyday lives as Hartveld (1996) notes, there has been little made out of the use of ICT in the development of students gross motor skills outside of a commercial setting and this is true more so in physical education lessons. While it might seem that Physical Education and Information Communication Technology are complete opposites- one which encourages physical activity and the other encouraging a more sedentary lifestyle. However there is proof that teaching learning with technology has had a significant positive effect on student outcomes when compared solely to traditional instruction (Waxman, Lin & Mitchko, 2003). The goal which is trying to be achieved is transferring this to the physical side of education. The important questions we need to answer however are: What kinds of technology are available to teachers across the country? Will the technology which is available to the teachers motivate and excite the students? When these questions are answered, ICT can start to be used as an aid for teachers and students, it should not however become a defining factor in a class especially in a physical education class.

A key way of using ICT in PE classes would be the use of video. Most schools are now equipped with ipads or someother form of recording device. These can be used by both the teachers and the students to record for example students executing various different Fundemental Movement Skills (FMS). The teacher can then look back at these recordings afterwards and breakdown the data. What this does is enables the teacher to provide feeback to the class and specific students to show them the importance of breaking skills into different components and also the consequences of slight variations in the technique (Ladda et al., 2004). This type of feedback could also be done by allowing the students to critic each other and work together. Peer teaching works well this way as it also can increase the confidence of the students speaking in front of their classmates.

Apps are the future. Every single person who uses a smartphone has a device filled with them. While researching ICT in Physical Education I came across some applications which I think would be useful in a physical education environment.

TEAM SHAKE: This app is the environmentally friendly and technological way to choose teams! The teacher can enter students names into the app and give the device a shake, the screen will then display a random set of colour coded teams.

POCKET BODY: This app is a fully interactive and searchable atlas of the human body.


BEEP TEST: This app has an entire beep test programmed into it. This is a standard fitness test used by professionals to test cardiovascular fitness. This test involves the participants running back and forth between two markers at an increasing pace as indicated by the audio beeps. Your fitness level is then calculated by how long you stay up to pace.


As we have already mentioned, the key for the successful integration of ICT in physical education is the relevance of the apps or media used. They can not dictate or control a lesson but rather provide useful ways of making the lesson as a whole better managed.


Chambers, B., Cheung, A.C.K., Madden, N.A., Slavin, R.E., and Gifford, R. (2006): “Achievement effects of embedded multimedia in a ‘Success for All’ reading programme”. Journal of Educational Psychology, Volume 98, No. 1, Pg. 232-237.

Ladda, S., Keating, T., Adams, D., and Toscano. (2004): “Including Technology in Instructional Programmes”. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (JOPERD), Volume 75, No. 4, Pg. 12-13/56.

Waxman, H., Lin, M., and Mitchko, G. (2003): “A Meta-Analysis of the Effectiveness of Teaching and Learning with Technology on Student Outcomes”. Learning Point Associates