The Team Sky Approach to GCSE PE – Marginal Gains in every lesson

This guest post was kindly written by Michael Davison – @davisonpe

In this second post on the Team Sky approach to GCSE PE, I am going to talk about some tools which could be used and embedded in every lesson to help achieve marginal gains in pupils learning.

It is important to remember that these are tools which need to be embedded and become constant to have an effect on learning. I have used these tools with two GCSE PE groups and have done so ever since their first lesson. These are now things which pupils expect in their lessons and because of that they have had a real positive effect on developing pupils learning and their independence.

Learning Diaries

At the start of every lesson, whether it be Practical or Theory, each pupil completes their own personalised Learning Diary.
These diaries are documents where pupils fill in what they learned in their previous lesson. These are always completed within the first 3 minutes of the lesson and allow pupils to review previous learning and make links to their current lesson.
As well as making these learning links these diaries also include information on pupil’s target, modular and homework grades so that they can clearly track their progress and check/review targets in every lesson.

A copy of the learning diary that I use can be downloaded from here.

Commercial Breaks in Lessons

It is often noted in education that pupils of different ages and abilities have different concentration spans and will therefore become distracted or disengaged in lessons at different times.
One way to try and keep every pupil in the lesson engaged at all times is by introducing commercial breaks.
These breaks take place every 15/20 minutes and last between 2/3 minutes. During these breaks pupils take a break from their learning or task by watching a motivational sports video. After the break is over pupils go straight back into their learning, more engaged and much more focused.
It is important to remember that these breaks are short; sharp breaks to refocus and motivate students. They are there to benefit learning, and improve pupil’s progress. One of the video’s that I have used can be viewed below.

Pupil Observations

The final tool which is constant in all lessons is one which has the biggest marginal gain, but is also the most controversial.
A lot is made in education these days about lesson observations, the purpose of them and what they actually do for teaching and learning. From a personal point of view I see observations as a useful tool in shaping learning, progressing pupils and increasing achievement, however only if they are done by the pupils.
In every lesson you have 20/30 pupils who need to make progress in their learning so who better to feedback on the lessons than the pupils themselves.

In every lesson 1 or 2 pupils complete a Pupil Feedback sheet which lets them evaluate their learning in the lesson. Pupils comment about the objectives of the lesson, if they have worked in groups and if they feel they have made progress and more importantly how.
Pupils also list 3 ways in which they have been successful in their learning and 3 ways in which they feel their lessons could be improved to develop their learning further.
This type of feedback gives accurate and instant feedback on the lesson from those people that really matter most, the pupils themselves!

If you would like to use Pupil Observations within your lessons, there is a copy of my Pupil Feedback Sheet on the @pegeeks website here

Simple, effective, high expectation homework

Another superb guest post from Martyn Beaumont (@doverno10)

After completing a series of lessons on the circulatory and respiratory systems I decided to give my year 10 GCSE P.E class an assessment that was also a major piece of homework. I had seen a very similar set of homework set by a colleague of mine last year with fantastic results, so decided to steal part of his idea, adapt it for my group and hey presto, quality results!!

The homework was a three week project (one week of term and then over Christmas) to produce a 3D model or video highlighting all they had learnt in lessons. The pupils came up with the criteria for the homework and how it would be marked. I showed them some other projects from the previous year and then set the expectation at an all-time high.

As you can see from the pictures below the pupils did not disappoint, producing some of the best pieces of work I have ever had handed in to me, a very proud moment indeed. Pupils used Edmodo to discuss how their projects were going and there was real engagement outside of the classroom. On hand in day the room was awash with various kinds of models made from a variety of materials from old swimming floats, shoe boxes, an old bra and play-do to name a few!

We provisionally marked the projects as a class, setting up the room like an art gallery with every pupil assessing each other’s work, scoring them on build quality, innovation, accuracy, presentation of information and overall score. These scores were then collated and an awards ceremony lesson was scheduled.

Various prizes were awarded from best in show, most accurate piece, best video, most innovative design and best artistic impression. Pupils seemed to really enjoy the awards ceremony with the tension being built with nominations for each award (even the wooden spoon award). Overall a very simple homework assignment that turned out to be a very worthwhile assessment piece of work. Allowing every pupil to express what they have learnt through the medium of a 3D model or video, rather than a standardised written test.

Revision Ideas

With the Year 11 GCSE PE exam just around the corner, it is coming to the time of year where pupils have covered all of the topics on the syllabus and will be starting to revise.

Revising in lesson time can sometimes be a tedious task for both students and teachers. Why not try and jazz up your revision with some of these ideas?

Revision games

There are lots of TV game shows, both past and present, that can be easily adapted to allow pupils to revise key areas of the syllabus whilst playing a popular game. Here are just some of the games and game shows which I have used within revision lessons:

Top Trumps

This game is adapted from the popular card game where players try to win each others cards. The cards can be made up of a topic area, e.g. Skill related fitness components. Collect some pictures of famous athletes and rank each aspect of skill related fitness out of 100.
This is a good revision game to not only help pupils remember the Skill related fitness components but helps then identify the importance of SRF components within different sports

Muscle tennis

This game is adapted from the famous TV programme game ‘Mallets Mallet’ where contestants had to say 1 word relating to a topic. If the contestant hesitated, paused, repeated a word or didn’t say anything that was relevant then they got hit on the head by a foam mallet.
Use this game to help students learn muscles of the body. Pupils get into pairs and sit opposite each other, first person starts by naming a muscle, the second person must name another muscle in order to return the ball (like a game of tennis). If one person hesitates, pauses, renames a muscle already used or says something irrelevant then they lose the point.

Who wants to be a millionaire

This game follows the same format as the TV show ‘Who wants to be a millionaire’ where pupils are poised questions and have the possibility of four answers. Each player can ask the audience (rest of the class), phone a friend (a designated pupil in the class) or 50/50 (where two wrong answers get taken away)
This is a good revision game to use with a small class but is less effective with large numbers


This game follows the same format as the American gameshow. Pupils are poised with the answer and have to identify the question.


Pupils have to select which words are linked with the overall topic area. Words which are not linked to the topic area are wipeouts. Pupils must try and a void selecting wipeouts.

They think its all over

This game is taken from the TV show ‘They think its all over’. Pupils are given a word from a topic area and have to explain the word to a partner who has to try and guess the word. Pupils are not allowed to mention part or the whole of the word and must make there explanation PE related. This is a good activity for getting pupils to be able to explain various words within the syllabus.

Picture round

Taken from the TV show ‘A question of sport’ pupils are presented with a sporting image and have to explain and link it to an area of the syllabus. This is good to get the pupils to create links with various topic areas

Higher or Lower

Taken from the TV show ‘Play your cards right’ this game involves identifying if values are higher or lower to the previous value. This works well with Diet when looking at calories in different food groups.


This game follows the same format as the TV show. Pupils must try and make there way across the board by answering questions. The grid is filled with different letters. Questions are based on each letter. E.g. B – what B is responsible for creating flexing of the elbow?

Other activities

Quiz, quiz, trade

An excellent Kagan cooperative learning game where pupils are given a card with a question on it. The card also contains the answer to he question. Pupils walk around the classroom and pair up and then ask each other their questions. Once both questions have been answered they trade cards and continue with the game. After a certain time period all pupils will have answered and asked a range of questions.

Revision carousel

A group is split into smaller groups. This will be dependent on the number of staff available. We have four members of staff between 80 pupils. Each member of staff delivers a 15 min “Quick revision” session. Groups rotate round each session, so that at the end of the lesson they have revised four sections. This works well as it breaks up the lesson

Making podcasts

Pupils make and record a short podcast on a certain topic of the syllabus. These can then be used as a revision source and shared with the whole class. The preparation for the podcast helps pupils to focus on key information on online casino for each

Revision booklet

Using a revision booklet with QR codes can be a extremely effective way for pupils to revise. The QR codes allow pupils to access additional material, such as video clips, slides from lessons or website links. Pupils can access the additional material via a QR scanner on their mobile phones or iPod.

Revision DVD

A great way the engage pupils into revision. Each aspect of the syllabus has a video to cover the key information. The DVDs can be played on most devices, including: Xbox, Playstations, computers, laptops.

These revision methods can be extremely beneficial within lessons to engage and enthuse pupils with their revision. Give them a go.

Have you any great revision ideas that work for you? We’d love to hear from you!