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Is sports day just for the sporty?

(26 Posts)
WalkingThePlank Thu 04-Jun-15 22:38:34

DCs have sports day coming up and in preparation they have been practising sports - well some of them have been but only those who are particularly sporty e.g. today both of them have spent an afternoon sitting on their bums watching the very sporty run. They had a chance to run once and that was it. A select few got to run races for the next 2 hours and if sports day is like it was last year, they'll get to sit on their bums some more. What's the point of that - how is that helping all to improve?

Would it be acceptable if we were talking say about maths and only the very able mathematicians got to practice their maths skills whilst the average or strugglers got to watch them practice.

Why is there such a disparity in approach?

Ferguson Thu 04-Jun-15 23:00:11

Different schools do things in different ways.

Sports day at our DS primary school had a wide range of activities going on simultaneously all over the playing field, each activity monitored by an adult (teacher, TA, parent-helper etc).

So there WERE things for the fast runners, but against a stop-watch; and also there was throwing bean-bags in a bucket, balancing on a PE form, kicking a ball at a goal spot on a wall, etc. Each helper had a list of expected targets for each age group, and each child took a score-sheet round for their results to be recorded.

Thus, even the least 'sporty' child could get a few bean-bags in the bucket, and not feel a failure.

christinarossetti Thu 04-Jun-15 23:12:58

It depends on the school. Our school organises things similar to what ferguson describes - lots of simultaneous sporty events going on at the same time, vague stab at counting points for one of four 'teams', with running races (grouped by speed known in advance by the PE teacher) for everyone at the end.

No children seem bored or frustrated that they haven't 'won'.

I agree that it's completely off to only have those who are best at sports doing lots. Making children feel that they're 'rubbish' at sports is a very good way of promoting inactivity and ill-health for life, according to research.

Heifer Thu 04-Jun-15 23:19:44

I think our school has a good balance. Everyone is in their house team. Everyone has to compete in the following (roughly 5 stations)
Ball throwing
Obstacle Race (involves bat & ball and sack race)
Skipping Race
plus 1 more I can't remember.

Then everyone sits in their houses, whilst 1 house rep from each class for each race, 100 metres, 200m, 800m and relays. (1 race each +relay). That probably involves 3/4 of each class.

redskybynight Fri 05-Jun-15 08:44:38

DC's school has a sports day for each year group (juniors so Y3-Y6). It splits each class into two (4 classes, so 8 groups). Then it has a series of 8 activities e.g. running up and down, throwing basketball hoops, dribbling ball round cones. Each group gets a fixed time on each activity and they have to do the activities in relay fashion amassing points. Team getting most points at the end wins. I think this is a good balance as it means everyone takes part and everyone is valued!

They also have girls and boys 4x100m relays between the classes, where they do select the fastest 4 girls and 4 boys in each class, so not everyone takes part.

DeeWe Fri 05-Jun-15 09:36:37

As a nonsporty one I would have loved a sports day where I spent most of it cheering sport friends on.

The dc's sports day is on two halves, one half activities in their teams for points and the other half a mixture of finals for best and open races for anyone who wanted.
I'd have loved the second ( and done none) and hard the first, which is meant to encourage the nonsporty ones, as I would have felt that, being slow, I was letting down the team. I have to add that no one ever said that, it was just how I felt.

SavoyCabbage Fri 05-Jun-15 10:13:36

Ours is proper athletics and that way different people tend to do better at different events be it shot put or the 1100m walk.

OldBeanbagz Fri 05-Jun-15 10:19:07

Ours is split into competitive & non-competitive events so everyone gets to take part. Unfortunately they didn't start this system until my non-sporty DD had left the school. Sporty DS howevrer is in his element.

How do your DC feel about their lack of participation?

manchestermummy Fri 05-Jun-15 10:21:29

Sports day at dd's school was only for the very fast. Dd sobbed at the end and I very nearly kept her off the following year...

I'm glad I didn't because they completely changed the format so that there was a wide variety of physical activities. So the very fast were still able to shine, but dd won where she had to balance/throw balls into buckets etc. The fastest children weren't necessarily the best at skipping or jumping, so others got their glory too.

It was lovely and all the children had a super afternoon.

Didn't stop one mum complaining though because it meant that her dd didn't win every race as had been the case the previous year. I felt quite embarrassed to even know her at that point.

AnnPerkins Fri 05-Jun-15 10:22:14

Ours is just running races, with novelty bits thrown in to make it fun for children of all abilities. It's not what the PE teaching staff want to do but apparently this is what the parents like to see. When they have tried to vary the format the parents have complained.

AuntieStella Fri 05-Jun-15 10:37:43

I think what OP describes is pretty shoddy.

Our primary has a 'carousel' sports day for years R-2 where everyone gets to go around a circuit of activities (running race, obstacle race, mini-relay, foam javelin, bean bag throwing into buckets etc) with discreetly differentiated groups, so that all ranges of ability get a chance to win. They get tickets for being placed, which are posted into house boxes, and the Winner of the day is the house. All children do the same number of events, and all are taking part all the time.

Y3-6 and it's more like a trad sports day, but again everyone does two running events, one throw and one jump; in discreetly differentiated heats for running, or all having 3 goes for throwing and jumping. So again all children are doing the same events and sitting out between turns for the same amount of time. Similar tickets to be posted in house boxes for winners, with Winner of the day being the house not the individual, but they do have a sports assembly just agpfter where winners (at all levels) get certificates, and I think they have a few staff awards for best attitude, most improved, etc.

Yes, especially by year 6 there are some athletes who are much better than the others (often those who go to clubs outside school) and they do tend to win. But the heat differentiation (so they compete against each other) and inclusive participation means they don't dominate conspicuously.

Calmonthesurfacebut Fri 05-Jun-15 10:57:32

Ours is like yours OP, the sporty kids are put in for most of the events - they spend the weeks prior being picked, as to who has the best time/distance etc.

Then the ones who are not good a sports, although may enjoy them, are put in the bean bag throwing, or the tennis ball shot put - they all know they are seen as rubbish and have only two or three events, as opposed to the others who do five or six.

Subsequently, parents spend sports day - at a prosper athletics track, sitting watching the same children doing all the events and in the case of mine, seeing her sit there all morning and part of the afternoon, for two things.

I don't want to see M and R, who are in all the squads doing everything, I would like a chance for my dd to shine and take part.

Last year dd had a serious injury just prior to sports day and it was a relief, we spent the day going to a brilliant interactive museum, this year we have no such excuse, but I have been told that the format has changed. We shall see, but I am so tempted to pull her out (against all I believe in though), I am just waiting to see what events she has and whether out day could be more productive.

Bitter? Moi?!! wink

TheFlyingFauxPas Fri 05-Jun-15 10:59:14

Primary school sports days should be all about fun, encouragement and activities suitable for all including unsporty old me whose elder sister was the fittest going and won every single bloody sport out there and completely overshadowed me (except horse riding smile )

Even unsporty me and the plumpest girl in the school who completely squashed me in the 3 legged race could win the wheelbarrow race star

Millymollymama Fri 05-Jun-15 11:21:33

I have seen a number of sports days, some good, some bad. I will start with the bad first. At my DD2's prep school the fathers' race decended into a macho fight to get to the line first - pushing and shoving. Pathetic and spoilt the day. The Mums were ultra competitive for their 5 year olds too. The unsporty had to compete in competitive races and got a sympathetic clap as they cried because they were embarrassed.

The good: DD1's state Infant school had "round robin" activities against personal goals. The sporty parents hated it (see below) but the children did not. Moving up to the Junior school. Their solution (and it worked well) was to have heats behind closed doors for the sporting events. Children put themselves forward from their Houses and everyone was encouraged to have a go. Those who did not qualify did team races on sports day to get points for the House. Every single child did something that counted. The support and cheering these races received was as much as for the running events. No sack races where children fall over and everyone laughs. This was about body races, obstacle races, but nothing too difficult, and relay races up and down the track. The sporty children did not compete in these races. There was a terrific spirit amongst the children and mostly, among the parents.

Unfortunately the parents of very sporty children seem to get utterly carried away on sports day, bellowing and shouting and in the case of one 6ft Mum, standing on her chair! The good, the bad and the plain ugly!

Yokohamajojo Fri 05-Jun-15 13:11:02

We have mixed ages and mixed abilities in a range of activities, not just pure running, but relays, dressing up, throwing bean bags, jumping in sacks etc! everyone is involved. Sounds horrible the way OP describes it tbh

IvyBean Sat 06-Jun-15 07:51:16

Yes it is shoddy.

Our school goes one better. The less able have to sit for hours bored to tears without shade watching said more able with headteacher leading event,lots of ceremony etc.

The crappy bean bag shit they are made to do instead that is akin to watching paint dry is put on a different day which the more able don't attend- or indeed the head.A clear message is sent.

Yes if it was any other area of the curriculum there would be uproar.

spanieleyes Sat 06-Jun-15 08:37:26

Our small school is split into houses. Each house has a representative from each year group in a relay race, ( so each team will have a R/1/2/3/4/5/6 member ) and there are around 8 different races ( skipping, obstacle, egg and spoon etc) So everyone in the school is in at least 3 different races and when not, they are cheering on their team. Then we have year group "flat" races-sprints of different distances and finally races for younger siblings who want to join in with the parens race last ( which is by far the most competitive!!)

addictedtosugar Sat 06-Jun-15 09:09:37

Everyone took part in everything at reception sports day. All in teams, so run as relays. I think in KS1 at least it needs to be all inclusive.

MilkRunningOutAgain Sat 06-Jun-15 13:02:01

My sporty DS hated primary sports as he got zero chance to shine. On the other hand my non sporty DD enjoys sports day as it is inclusive. Only way to satisfy DS was with sports outside primary. While I'm totally against kids sitting on bums hot, bored and NOT exercising, I do think there is nothing wrong with letting sporty kids excel once a year either. By the sound of everyone's experiences above, it seems to be difficult to strike a happy medium. My kids primary has tried several formulae overs the years and seems to be moving towards the more competitive approach, just as DS has left! I agree KS1 should be all inclusive so everyone joins in all the time.

manchestermummy Sat 06-Jun-15 14:05:57

I agree milk but if kids had to stand up in front of assembly and tell the school what reading level they're on there would be an uproar.

Sports Day can be hell for the non-sporty and it's just about the most public display of ability there can be at primary school.

KittyandTeal Sat 06-Jun-15 14:12:14

That sounds really boring and I hate to say it but ofsted would go mental.

We organise a carousel of activities with points awarded to first, second, third and taking part (as in everyone gets 1 point per activity those 'winners' get more points) so the kids are always doing something.

We also do races at the end but they're split into year groups and everyone races.

IvyBean Sat 06-Jun-15 16:35:05

So Milk should the kids not good at reading and writing be told their work isn't good enough and then have to sit through 21/2 hours of reading/writing celebration they are excluded from because they haven't archived high enough?hmm

The whole point of sports day is to encourage sports for all and to make the less able want to participate more.There is a health issue here which is far more than a talent one.Being told you're so bad you can't even compete sends completely the wrong message alongside wasting time that could be spent more wisely for those sat on their arses bored.

opalfire Sat 06-Jun-15 17:21:07

Flying - glad to hear of your success in the wheelbarrow race. My bestie and I won the three legged race because we didn't rush and kept in time. We loved running past the speedies on the floor because they kept trying to sprint! We also did well in the egg and spoon because sheer speed isn't enough. So despite having 'competitive' races, because they were daft/novelty it was anyone's guess who would actually win!

MilkRunningOutAgain Sat 06-Jun-15 22:40:04

I probably didn't make it clear but I actually prefer inclusive sports days. And I think fluent readers should be reading aloud in assembly, no need to actually give out levels, which I'm assuming is a joke, but most kids are good at something, DD is good at art and so proud her picture is in the school hall, and the head mentioned it in assembly. DD's school has celebration assemblies and all sorts of things, academic, artistic, musical, are celebrated. I do think a sports day in which it is not clear to the parents who the fastest / best at throwing / jumping etc kids are is missing a trick. But all kids do need to be active at sports days and participating and the onus should be on improving, not on medals. I think daft races like egg and spoon and three legged are great too, opal fire, good if lots of different kids can win different things. Kids are not identical and need to know they are not, or risk disillusionment later on.

cariadlet Sun 07-Jun-15 14:03:21

I teach in a 3 form entry primary so we split into different sports days - otherwise they'd go on too long (as it is, each one lasts a whole morning).

In Key Stage 1 (years 1 and 2) the 6 classes rotate around 6 activities eg team standing jump, bean bag throw, hockey dribbling, obstacle course. Then we have running races - everyone runs, 6 children at a time - differentiated so they're all running with somebody of a similar ability.
Finally we have 2 relay races (1 for each year group) - just the 4 fastest children from each class, so the only one which isn't totally inclusive but the sportiest get the moment of glory.

Having been an incredibly non-sporty child, who loathed PE with a passion and dreaded Sports Days, I wouldn't have minded Sports Day the way we do it. (Well, not too much anyway)

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