British American Football Association (BAFA) is the ‘School Games NGB of the Year’ 2017.

Why? Well, there’s been significant growth in participation in the first year (end of first term in the Games = 1,987 children, end of first year = over 4,000 children. An increase of 107%!), extensive efforts to engage with major stake-holders, and the unique and inclusive competition formats developed with the help of the NFL.

Maybe you want to introduce American Football into your school, maybe through the School Games? Perhaps through the new AQA Level 1/2 Award in Sport?

As part of the School Games, you’ll know that the format will be safe and inclusive (and, in fact, is gender-neutral) because that is the standard that the Youth Sport Trust demands and you would expect from the format.

But maybe you hold-back because you are not sure you can deliver it, even though you’ll already have the basic equipment – cones and flag belts – you’ll just need to buy a few American Footballs.

What would make your life easy? Resources and especially free resources? Hold that thought.

Why teach American Football?

The shock of the DfE publishing it’s ‘Approved List’ for GCSEs has probably faded but the absence of certain sports may still be annoying. AQA developed the ‘Technical Award in Sport’ to put them all back into the curriculum but the 10 Awards fall short of DfE requirements (apart from one).

You can still teach it, since it gained Section 96 funding, but it won’t count toward Performance Tables. So, what would be the point?

My ex-Principal, when he joined my old college, stood in one of his first staff meetings and said: ‘Don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions’. And good to his word, if you had a problem but more importantly, if you had a solution to that problem, he’d do everything possible to help you resolve it. Above are the two ‘problems’, so here is a solution.

As an ex-teacher with 24 years at the same school under my belt (as a Psychology teacher, not a PE specialist), I really know what it feels like to want to do something but not knowing where to start. This was the situation I faced when I decided to set up my own American Football Programme at that school (with a £10k funding award from Sport England).

Fast forward 6 years and in developing the School Games formats, the driving principles were about simplicity and the intensity of the activity so, for primary schools, we developed a 3v3 mini-game.

Overall, that has been a great success. Since I also have 26 years in a variety of examining posts with AQA I jumped at the chance to write the new American Football content for the Technical Award in Sport, and create a very deliverable content which has within it a naturally embedded teacher development pathway, from non-contact to full-contact, over a notional period of four years.

The suggested assessment evidence could be best gained from participation in the School Games (i.e. as a player, coach, official and/or organiser). No originality here, sure – using student leaders to help run primary school events. ‘Ah,’ I hear you say, ‘it still won’t count towards the Performance Tables, so what’s the point?’

Given that it can be delivered now, and students will get a GCSE equivalent qualification out of it, the fact that it won’t impact on Performance Tables means that a teacher could introduce the sport as part of Core PE and/or as an after-school club, without any risk, whilst AQA address the issues that prevented it gaining full DfE approval.

This will effectively give teachers time to develop their skills in a new sport without the risk of bringing the school’s Performance Table position down (thus keeping Governors/Principal/SLT happy!).

Resources

And what would help this process? Resources. Especially if there were free resources that would allow you to deliver the basics of the sport for the School Games and allow students (and their teachers) get to grips with the assessment for the Level 1/2 Award in Sport.

BAFA has developed exactly that. On the new BAFA Schools website (launched Sunday 28th January 2018, further details will appear on BAFA’s main website), there are five free Guides covering the American Football content for the AQA Level 1/2 Award in Sport. These will also help deliver the offer in the School Games

So, students taking part in the School Games could end-up with a GCSE equivalent qualification for much reduced effort. Especially, high-flying academic students who also want to play a different sport. There is also a chargeable ‘Touchdown Teachers’ Induction Day that provides resources (64 ‘On-field Cards’ and 32 supporting video clips).

American Flag Football is a fast, different, inclusive, gender-neutral and exciting invasion game. Kids love it – just look at the rise in participation figures so far.

For more information and further support go to http://www.britishamericanfootball.org/coach-and-teach/resources or email: schools@britishamericanfootball.org.

We’re with you from 1st down to Touchdown!

UPDATE: The new teacher/school-focused website is now live at bafaschools.org. The site includes CPD opportunities, free resources, news and tips.

 

Rob Rooksby is the full-time British American Football Association’s Manager for Schools and an American Football Coach. He is a retired Psychology teacher and retired examiner for a major examination board.