How these online PE lessons attracted 300 students a day
- Credit: Andrew Scotland/Ipswich Opportunity Area
Joe Wicks may have become the nation's PE teacher during the Covid-19 lockdown, but Ipswich now has its very own sports lesson superhero teaching hundreds of youngsters a week remotely.
Mel Scotland, owner of Learn Play Grow Ipswich, was tasked with co-ordinating online PE and exercise sessions by Ipswich Opportunity Area - the government-funded project to improve education attainment in the town.
The virtual work outs began just two weeks ago, but are already attracting 300 pupils a session across four sessions a week - 1,200 pupils in all.
"We put this offer out of remote learning for PE lessons for all the schools in the Ipswich Opportunity Area," Mrs Scotland said.
"We did the first class and it was oversubscribed so we opened up capacity to get more students on.
"It's brilliant, it's great to see so many wanting to engage in PE and active learning, especially on a Monday morning getting them up and active."
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Mrs Scotland runs the sessions out of Rushmere Hall Primary School with a handful of key worker children, and delivers the workouts to a screen with hundreds of other youngsters tuned in at home.
For younger pupils, those exercises take the form of an adventure or story, with more Joe Wicks-style fitness activities for the older primary pupils.
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"They seem really excited, and on some of the challenges the kids are writing scores, writing them in the chat, so it is quite nice they can see their other friends and be engaged," she said.
Mrs Scotland had been a practicing PE teacher before forming Learn Play Grow Ipswich around five years ago, delivering holiday clubs, breakfast and after-school sports sessions on site.
When Covid-19 hit, that halted those sessions in schools as pupils were required to work from home. But as pupils prepare to go back on March 8, Mrs Scotland has said those sessions won't cease entirely.
"Back last Easter [when lockdown began] it was a real shock for us. So when this project came along we though, great - if we can help out it helps the children and it helps us," she said.
"We are going to keep going with it so if teachers want to do it from classrooms, or if there are children isolating or home-schooling they can do it."
A bank of videos is also being formed for instances where pupils are self-isolating, while preparations are also underway for breakfast and after school sessions to resume with the necessary Covid-secure measures.
But for now, its the virtual sports hall where youngsters can see their friends until they re-unite at school on March 8, and thanks to Mrs Scotland its a place buzzing with activity.