Roche Community Primary School
Q&A with Jeremy Walden: Head Teacher of Roche Community Primary School
Roche Community Primary School in Cornwall installed a CardioWall Compact Duo in September 2016. Sport, activity and outdoor learning play a massive role at the school.
Since the CardioWalls install, Roche have continued to work with Rugged Interactive. Most recently, Rugged ran a graphic design workshop with a group of Year 6's at the school. It was incredibly inspiring to work with the children. They were all so receptive and eager to get involved and share their ideas.
With obesity rates continuing to rise in the UK and worldwide, and nearly one in three children overweight or obese by the time they leave primary school, Rugged Interactive are doing everything they can to show young people that staying fit and healthy can be enjoyable, competitive and exciting - as well as being vitally important.
As a school that embraces new technology in our drive for constant improvement, the CardioWalls encourage competitiveness and motivate self-improvement. Children experience a sense of achievement and improvement very quickly. They see their scores improve and work out how to refine and improve their own performance through practice.
Jeremy Walden, Head Teacher at Roche Primary School.
In the following Q&A, Jeremy Walden summarises the impact of the CardioWalls at Roche Primary School.
What was the effect of the CardioWall on the 'reluctant exercisers’?
Overall, our children are pretty sporty and are encouraged to take part in everything. However, the informal clubs and the inclusion of the CardioWalls in to PE lessons have shown that everyone is keen to have a go, especially once an element of competition is involved, either with peers or for personal best. The probable attraction here is that the CardioWalls don’t immediately make you think of exercise; they look like fun so appeal to everyone.
What do you think the biggest benefits are for the children?
The CardioWall is another form of activity that suits certain children, so a child who may not be great at the usual range of sports in school can excel on CardioWalls. We are always trying to broaden the range of available activity and these offer something very different from the norm.
Many children, especially older boys need to release energy in intense short bursts so the CardioWalls are effective for this.
The CardioWalls encourage competitiveness and motivate self-improvement. These skills are easy to encourage in the usual sporty children but harder for others.
Children experience a sense of achievement and improvement very quickly. They see their scores improve and work out how to refine and improve their own performance through practice - the same reason why video games are so popular with children.
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What are the biggest advantages for the teachers?
The CardioWalls can be managed by the children themselves in clubs / groups so don’t require direct supervision all the time. There are no special rules that need to be adhered to or behaviours that must be followed because the CardioWalls don’t require supervision and seem to be indestructible. This means that children can’t get it wrong and can’t get in to trouble.
Teachers often need to identify movement breaks, rewards and incentives for children and the CardioWalls provide both very well.
Teachers have also been able to plan the CardioWalls in to their gym activities as a component of units of PE work on fitness.
How do you think the CardioWalls will help the school achieve its Physical Activity targets set under the new curriculum? How important is this for you?
We are not directly working towards targets but if we were, we would record the extra sport club opportunities that the CardioWalls provide and this would add to the percentage of children taking part in after school sport activity and add to the diversity of sport opportunity on offer. Two box ticking areas on sport awards such as Healthy Schools and Sainsbury’s School games awards.
Have you identified any social interaction benefits?
We have a group of children from Year 6 who have been identified as having lower self-esteem running the CardioWall lunchtime and playtime clubs. This has been great for them as they control the CardioWalls and decide on who is using them. It has brought them into contact with lots of other children and has raised their status amongst their peers. When chosen, one of the children said ‘I never get chosen for this sort of thing.’ Shame on us… but you can see the impact.
The groups of children using the CardioWall are always having fun together and the competitive environment is also a factor of social action worth remembering.
Which type of children do you think will benefit the most from the school having these CardioWalls?
No particular group, however the impact on SEN children was something that I was very interested in and that has proven successful. Thinking particularly here of developing gross motor skills which is something that we have to do a lot of with younger children, as well as children who may be dyspraxic or partially disabled. We have several children who have ADHD and require regular movement breaks. Some may use the CardioWall for two minute bursts three times in a morning or afternoon.
We have used the CardioWalls as an incentive for behaviour management for all sorts of children. E.g. “Finish this piece of work and you can have a go on the CardioWall,” etc.
What are the main ways you would say it is better than existing activities in PE?
One advantage over some existing PE activities is that the CardioWalls can be used independently. They require no teamwork, which suits some children. I should add though; the CardioWalls are also very effective for encouraging teamwork.
Clearly it feels like a fun activity first and foremost rather than a PE or sport activity. It is different from normal PE; the CardioWalls look cool, sound cool and it’s rare that children are doing a PE activity where they are allowed to hit something. This may sound strange but some children need to release energy in this way.
How are the CardioWalls used in extra-curricular activities?
Lunch and playtime clubs, support for SEN (Special Educational Needs), after school clubs, reward and incentive for good work or behaviour, staff using them in their fitness group, challenge activity at our Christmas fair for adults and children, and more.
Can you give some specific examples describing specific pupils who have significantly benefitted from using the CardioWall?
A pupil in Key Stage 1 with Downs Syndrome has always had limited motor control in his hands, and even struggled to pick up a ball. Since using the CardioWall, we have seen a dramatic improvement in his hand strength and coordination, to the point where he now uses the 1 kg D-ball soft weights to whack the lights with great gusto, and he clearly loves his new dexterity.