Network launched to connect sport science experts with PE teachers and sports coaches

Experts from LJMU’s Physical Activity Exchange have launched a new network so that they can better share knowledge and support the professional development of school PE teachers and sports coaches within the Liverpool City Region.  

More than 50 practitioners joined the launch event at the Student Life Building where the Physical Education, School Sport and Physical Activity Network (PESSPA) was officially launched. 

Ceri Magill, senior lecturer in physical education at the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, is leading the new network which will provide opportunities for skills development across the school and higher education sector in the field of PE and sport.  

Ceri said: “We felt that the network would be a great way of connecting with PE teachers, coaches, and sport organisations. We value these relations and the positive impact that they can have within the community and for LJMU students.” 

The PESSPA network will link teachers and coaches working within schools, with both staff and students across the school of sport and exercise sciences programmes, regardless of where they find themselves in their career. Working together, skills will be enhanced and ultimately children across Merseyside will benefit from an improved PE and sport offer within their schools.  

The network will focus on four strands, supported by a committed and experienced team from LJMU, who will provide opportunities, host events and share a range of innovative work in PE, school sport and physical activity. 

  • LJMU Sport: events, facilities and community sport 
  • Research projects 
  • Programme related professional learning 
  • Continued professional development 

During the launch event, the four strands of the network were discussed throughout the day during a series of presentations and demonstrations. 

LJMU alumni and current head of faculty at Calday Grange Grammar School, Paul Miller, shared his experiences of connecting with the university. 

Stephen Grace, LJMU sports participation manager, introduced attendees to the sport of Kinball which provided a great platform for senior lecturers Dr Sigrid Olthof and Dr Colin Lewis to demonstrate state-of-the-art catapult activity tracking technology fitted within the LJMU sports hall facilities.  

The catapult system is a wearable technology for athletes that provides performance and video analysis. The workshop provided an opportunity for teachers and coaches to gain an understanding of how this technology can support practice. For example, how the tool can be used to measure levels of physical activity during a range of practical activities, particularly useful in team sport activities and individual training sessions or programmes to enhance performance.     

Another LJMU alumni, Jon White, PE teacher, sport premium and inclusion specialist from Clare Mount Specialist Sports College discussed the development of a toolkit alongside Youth Sport Trust, to support girls with autism, and his top tips and guidance when working with SEND pupils. 

Jon has been highly successful in his teaching career with subject specialism in Physical Education SEND and has played a pivotal role in many research projects outside of school. Jon recently contributed to the summary of a rapid evidence review for the UK chief medical officers update of the physical activity guidelines (2022) with a focus on disabled children and young people. 

The day ended with Dr Katie Fitton-Davies and Dr Lawrence Foweather sharing the outcomes of the SAMPLE PE research project and how this can help to inform practice.  

Ceri added: “The event launch was highly successful, and we are delighted by the continued support of the individuals who already work closely with LJMU to enhance the provision of the student learning experience. We recognise that this support enables many opportunities for high quality research and development of good practice. We hope to connect with further schools and sport organisation across Merseyside as the network develops.” 

The PESSPA network is part of the wider Physical Activity Exchange.  

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