Challenge to have teachers involved in sport ongoing one

The challenge to have a teacher involved in every sport provided by a school is an ongoing one and may only get harder.

Otago teachers stack up well in involvement in sporting activities but health and safety requirements mean it is tough to make sure all sports are catered for and have a teacher involved.

With the growth of sports in many schools - some schools in the South offer more than 30 activities - the onus is to find someone to coach them and also to look after the team.

Otago Secondary Schools Sports Association regional sports director Nicki Paterson said it had always been a challenge to get enough teachers to cover all sports teams.

With some sports such as basketball and volleyball booming, because many pupils played mainly for social reasons, the challenge was increasing.

Many sports had only limited time slots every week in which to play and some of those slots made it hard to get a member of the school along to help.

Ms Paterson said many schools were engaging with their community to try to get a responsible adult to go with the school team.

However, under health and safety legislation, if something goes wrong, ultimately, it is the principal who shoulders the blame. Having a teacher present eliminates that risk somewhat, as the teacher is more familar with expectations of the team and also school policy.

Some sports which are high risk will always have a teacher involved.

At a venue such as the Edgar Centre, where multiple teams from one school may be playing at one time, one teacher may be involved in covering more than one team and will not necessarily be on the sideline for just the one team.

Some schools have a policy under which a teacher will be involved with every team but that was not easy achieve.

She said when a team went away to a weeklong tournament - which was much more prevalent than it used to be - the school had to weigh up whether to send a teacher, as cover would then be needed back at school.

It was hard for some rural schools whose teams travelled every week. A school such as Roxburgh Area School had sports teams travelling to Alexandra and further afield every week so required a lot of commitment from parents and teachers.

Overall in Otago, 41% of teachers are involved in sport, well ahead of the national average of 31%. In Otago, 23% of teachers coach a sport.

In 2007, 46% of teachers were involved in sport so numbers have not dropped significantly. Coaching involvement then was also at 23%.

Ms Paterson said most schools wanted teachers involved as they were the best educators. Also, many teachers wanted to take part in sport as they felt it helped their relationship with pupils and they could see how they operated outside the classroom.

Teachers did not get paid for their work in sport over the weekend but it was a commitment many enjoyed.

As the teaching workforce at secondary sport level aged, there was concern the commitment might fall away in a changing world.

 

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