students on the sofa

Game on: A day in the life of an Atelier 21 IB Athlete

Walking down the path, past the lake, though the picturesque green serenity that surrounds Atelier 21, the sun streams through the trees and you feel the space to breathe deeply and soak up the calm. Ahead, the familiar sight of students dressed in Atelier 21 hoodies, coupled with joggers, shorts or jeans, their individual teenage styles stand out. Carrying colourful hoops, bags and boxes, the year 7 and 8 students engage in friendly conversation and banter as they prepare for the last lesson of the day led by PE teacher Ben.

Cast your mind back to PE as a teenager and you will likely remember sweaty dressing rooms, communal showers, running laps around a field to get some exercise and lessons that seemed to be something you just did with little connection to purpose for all but the most dedicated or talented sports people.

Entering the enormous sports hall, its time for a warm up with a purpose. The A’s must get away from B’s, the B’s from C’s and the C’s from A’s, all the time avoiding collisions.

Ben blows the sharp sounding whistle for the game to begin.

Students dart around, laughing and actively engaging in a chaotic dance of avoidance and capture. Who will triumph?

A second whistle draws the game to an abrupt halt as a student crashes to the ground. Unhurt and undeterred he rises again ready to begin.

“Why did that happen?” Ben asks drawing students attention to the purpose of the game.

“You need to spread out, to create space and avoid capture?”

The shrill whistle echoes around the sports hall again and the hectic commotion begins. Students dart from one space to another, weaving in and out of each other to evade their pursuers whilst chasing their targets.

Puffing, out of breath and very warm the group gather to debrief “that wasn’t related to anything, it was just running”, offers one student before the discussion shifts to the importance of spacial awareness, agility and strategy in sports like Ultimate Frisbee that they were practicing in a previous lesson.

Half the group grab bibs, now they are two teams, the goal to pass the ball as many times as possible within their team without dropping it or loosing possession. The rules … pivot but don’t move with the ball, stay one metre away, rounds last as long as you keep the ball moving, communicate with your team – what do they need to know, to hear, to see from you to make the most passes?

The lesson is dynamic, full of action and lively discussion, engaging even the most reluctant teenager into a flurry of action. Strategy meets physical education all underpinned by the International Baccalaureate (IB) criteria – preparing students for their future practical assessments.

It’s time to put the strategy into action for the final task of the day. Gathering into groups of four, the students were to create a ‘frisbee golf hole’. Moving quickly they had to gather equipment – hoops, stands, floor spots, bean bags, a negotiation of who would use what, how the obstacles would be placed, what the rules for the hole are, if it was a par 2, 3, 4 and what were the penalties for a poor throw.

“You have 17 minutes to plan, build and test the design of your golf hole, you need to collaborate and agree on what equipment you will use, how it will be placed and what the rules are and test it before your peers will evaluate and give you feedback on your work.” commands Ben.

The task was set, the groups gathered their equipment and spread out around the hall. Taking a moment Ben explained how he designs activities in line with the IB Middle Years Programme (MYP) criteria while also building on the skills he sees they need from one lesson to the next it is a skilful and dynamic approach to learning in action.

As the sun sets on another day at Atelier 21, the bustling energy of the sports hall gradually gives way to a stroll back through the greenery of Broadfield Park, where students reflect on their accomplishments with a sense of camaraderie.

In these dynamic physical education sessions, led by teacher Ben, students not only engage in purposeful activities that foster teamwork, strategy and agility, but they also cultivate a sense of well-being integral to their overall growth. Watching the students collaborate, innovate and overcome challenges with determination, it’s evident that student wellbeing is at the core of every lesson and the heart of every teacher. To the students, staff and parents of Atelier 2, it is more than just a school; it’s a nurturing haven where empowered learners are equipped to embrace the challenges of the world with confidence and resilience.