A life in the week of Hattie Dukes, head of PE at Ricards Lodge High School for Girls in London, a novice triathlete and national league player for Wimbledon Hockey Club.
I wake with GCSE PE questions filling my mind. I can’t believe that the is exam is on Friday. I spent Saturday morning in school with my year 11 class and since then possible questions that might come up on Friday have been filling my mind more than usual. I follow my normal routine - up at 6am with a hot lemon and leave for school at 6.30 and arrive for 6.45. I am very much a morning worker and like to be organised before the crazy day starts. Last week I set a challenge for each person in the department to come up with at least one wet weather lesson idea that is related to our summer activities. Fingers crossed we won’t need them this week but I write up my idea on the white board in the office and I hope the rest of the team have been creative. My idea is strength and conditioning circuit related to athletes as I feel this is an area that is not given enough attention in PE lessons. I have four lessons today with my year 11s being my main priority. I have been trying to make their revision interesting and the TES has been a dream accessing revision tools - Connect 4, Taboo and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire all featuring in my lesson today. Gymnastics and Fighting Fit after school and then it is my time to train. Monday evening is triathlon core class which is bound to mean I won’t be laughing properly on Tuesday.
Athletics has always been my weakest subject as a hockey player and novice triathlete so I am always looking at ways to improve my lessons. One of my five lessons is set 2 year 8 and I decide to produce a high jump prediction chart. I hate the girls waiting around for their go so I get the ergo rowers out and set half the class a rowing challenging and they are working on their muscular endurance and cardio-vascular fitness. The other half work with me. At the start they have to make a prediction of how high they think they will jump. Each girl is given a note and they have to write their name on it and place it on the chart. Following some teacher-led tasks and peer assessment we start our formal jumping. After 20 minutes the groups swap over and the other half of the class get a chance to use the prediction chart. Each girl smashes their prediction of how high they thought they could jump. Afterwards we talk about aspirational targets and the need to always challenge ourselves and how we are far more capable than we realise. Extracurricular we have our cricket squad on a trip to the Oval and after school we have tennis club. I then have time for my own training - a turbo/run session. Twelve days and counting until my first triathlon of 2016.
The wet weather arrives and, like most PE departments in the country, the sports hall is lost this time of year to the dreaded examinations tables so we are left with a tiny gym the size of one badminton court. I have double year 12 in the morning and then three key stage 3 lessons in the afternoon. I put together a contingency plan for the department and email it out to the whole team. In the plan, sadly, one poor class has to go into a classroom, which leaves two classes to double up in the small gym space. I attach some classroom work ideas and decided to give my strength and conditioning circuit a go for the classes that will be doing their practical lesson. I hate having to put a class in a classroom but 90 kids in our small gym is an accident waiting to happen. The day runs smoothly and we adapt the circuit depending on the groupings and add little team challenges to the end which the girls really enjoy. Rounders club is after school on a Wednesday and the weather forecast says it is going to clear up so we set up our pitches on the astro turf as the field is too wet to play. We play for about 30 minutes until the heavens open and we all get soaked. The kids don’t want to stop but after about ten minutes and some hail we have to accept defeat.
Thank goodness the weather forecast is good for today as we are hosting the senior borough rounders tournament. As I look at my diary for the day I wonder how I am going to get through the five periods and break duty. My form are hosting a talent show to raise money for charity at lunch. There’s after school revision with any year 11s that want to attend, hosting the rounders tournament and then internal CPD. But as all teachers do, we somehow get through the day and come second in the tournament, losing out only to our rival school. My only regret of the day is that I wear trousers. What a mistake on such a beautiful day.
I wake up feeling a bit sick as though it is me taking the exam. I get to school ten minutes earlier than I usually do at 6.35am so I can make some changes to the Powerpoint I produced on Sunday for year 11s final lesson. I spend periods two and three with them going through some last minute revision bits in a relaxed fashion so not to stress them out and then I just sit and have a question and answer with each table where they can ask me any questions they want too. They line up for their exam in the school hall. One of my girls is missing so the head of year 11 starts to make some urgent phone calls and one of them is hobbling around on crutches as she sprained her ankle last night. I escort her to the exam hall waiting area early as she is really struggling and she says to me ‘Miss it is ok because of my GCSE PE I know exactly how to treat it – rest, ice, ompression, elevation, RICE.’ She is so proud of herself. But sadly that question never comes up. I frantically rush back to the hall with my fingers crossed that my missing student has turned up and thankfully she comes sprinting towards me totally out of breath. ‘Don’t worry Miss. I was never going to miss my exam.’ I wish them all good luck and once they are all safely in I pester my exams officer for a copy of the exam paper, which she refuses to give me until Monday. So typically on Friday night my dreams are filled with GCSE PE exam questions once more.
In the morning I have a turbo bike session with core strength and in the afternoon meet friends to play dino-golf. Then back to play the Gogglebox board game with the FA cup final on in the background. As a Chelsea fan, I want Crystal Palace to win which sadly they don’t.
With only eight days until my first triathlon it’s important that I do some miles so I head to Richmond Park and cycle 40k and then put my bike straight in the car and run 5k. It’s a beautiful day and I love being so close to Richmond Park. I the afternoon I prepare a roast, do some planning and watch The Program about Lance Armstrong.
A LIFE IN THE WEEK OF