It’s the start of the academic year and it’s a big deal for the little Y7’s heading up to start their secondary career. PE can be particularly daunting in that there is a bigger space, more people and more unknown faces than usual. There are changing rooms and short times to get changed in and pressure to get to where your class is supposed to be.
In the first lesson of the year the idea was for pupils to get changed and head into the sports hall where the way things work could be outlined, questions answered, fears allayed and then head out for their first PE lesson. To make things as straightforward as possible our timetables separated lessons out into PE and Games.This translated as PE indoors and Games (hockey, rugby etc.) outdoors. Very straightforward. Right? So the first lesson was PE and was uneventful. Kids in kit trying their hardest. Lesson number two of the week arrived and kids lined up, as they should. They file into the changing rooms and I become aware of two girls loitering in the corridor. Pupil A is clearly upset and pupil B is trying to console her. You see pupil A has forgotten her PE kit. In the life of a youngster new to secondary school and in the realms of the unknown this can feel like the end of the world. I chivvy pupil B along to get changed and start talking to pupil A. Did she have her kit last lesson? Yes. Why didn’t she bring it with her today then? “Bbbbbbecause I I I thought it was ggggames” she spluttered out between the sobs. Well it is games and of course you need your kit, what did you think we’d be doing? “Ggggggames, Miss. Like ssssssnakes ‘n ladders an’ mmonopoly and stuff” she spluttered out, still crying. Well, just what do you say to that. A broad grin spread across my face and I started laughing which seemed to upset her more. She was waiting for a telling off, you see. General amusement wasn’t what she was expecting. So what did I do? Easy. Gave her a merit for the best excuse I had heard for not having her kit and ushered her, still confused, into the changing rooms to leave her bag and join her class. Also so that I could let out the roar of laughter that was welling up inside me. I laughed until I cried. In fact, I still smile when I think of that moment, seventeen years later.