Let's get physical
FIND A SPACE. By Stephen Pain, Lawry Price, Graham Forest-Jones and Jo Longhurst. David Fulton, Pounds 12.99
GAMES CHILDREN PLAY. By Kim Brooking-Payne. Hawthorn Press, Pounds 14. 95 plus Pounds 2 postage from Hawthorn Press, Hawthorn House, 1 Lansdown, Stroud GL5 1BJ
With such a diverse trio of recent publications to review, it is tempting to assess them on a "need to have" basis. This places the British Association of Advisers and Lecturers in Physical Education's revision of its special educational needs (SEN) book in the category of essential support material for all schools. The new edition provides an update which reflects the introduction of the national curriculum, the code of practice and other relevant legislation.
The authors acknowledge that most pupils will, at some time in their school lives, have special educational needs and it is fair to say that the book embraces much that is good practice in physical education for all pupils. This is therefore an invaluable guide to far more than just physical education for those on the SEN register. Its advice about safe practice applies to all the primary teacher's physical education provision. Equally, there are benefits from applying the section on assessment to all teaching and all children.
The sections which are most specifically concerned with SEN include a comprehensive description of the full range of needs and their PE implications. There are specific safety factors which apply to different kinds of need, disability or disorder and these are clearly indicated, with details of the treatment associated with each category. The book is appended with advice about OFSTED inspections, an information guide to sport for the disabled and catalogues of useful publications, videos and award schemes. It is a book which cannot be too highly recommended - very definitely a "must have".
Find a Space is not quite in the same category, simply because it is very similar to the many other books which seem to have poured from the pens (or more precisely, word processors) of individual authors and local education authorities, post-national curriculum.
Like most other curriculum guidelines on primary physical education, the book offers sound advice for the non-specialist on all aspects of the subject. If your most urgent question is "What can I teach next week?", the book offers practical lesson ideas for all areas of activity with detailed lesson plans which are easy to follow. Longer-term needs are supposedly met by the inclusion of examples to help the planning of a unit of work - I'm not sure that they do without more explanation of the principles behind the examples.
Find a Space does, however, successfully meet a need which others have generally failed to address. It has a particular focus on health-related exercise which makes it a most useful source of reference on its relevance to the primary PE programme. In practical terms, the authors concentrate on providing a wealth of ideas for warming up and cooling down.
The book also contains a useful overview of whole school issues such as planning, facilities, extra-curricular activities and the "image" of PE within a school. In summary, the book falls into the category of "buy if you haven't got something similar".
Finding a category for Kim Brooking-Payne's Games Children Play is not quite so easy. His book is primarily about how games and sport help children develop. The readerwill recognise many of the games described for theages of three to 13 and beyond. What will not be so obvious is the relationship of the games to the national curriculum. This, in fact, is the book's delight - it's about matching games to children's needs as opposed to matching children to a pre-determined programme. Thus we are reminded of singing, imitation, finger, string and skipping games; we question the decisions to introduce athletics at age 11, gymnastics, outdoor activities and sport at age 13 - above all else, we are challenged to think about our starting points. There is much to commend about this book. The games themselves are useful lesson material, but the sensitivity of the writing is the book's importance - it's definitely in the "ought to have" category.
Colin Lee is a physical education consultant