Figure 1: The five Key Skills of Senior Cycle
There are five key skills identified as being central to teaching and learning in senior cycle education. These are information processing, being personally effective, communicating, critical and creative thinking and working with others. Physical education provides a unique opportunity for learners to develop the key skills through learning in the psychomotor domain.
Learning outcomes in senior cycle physical education are clear statements of what it is expected that learners will achieve in terms of knowledge and understanding, skills and attitudes. Each of the key skills is embedded in the learning outcomes in senior cycle physical education. For example, skills relating to being personally effective, communicating, and working with others are clearly articulated in the learning outcomes in the Personal and social responsibility curriculum model. Critical and creative thinking skills are central to learning outcomes that include compositional tasks, for example, in dance or gymnastics in Sport education, or the design of new games as might be required in the Teaching games for understanding curricular model.
The use of a range of teaching and learning strategies makes it possible not only to meet the different learning needs of students but also allows the key skills to be developed. For example:
Communication skills can be developed by involving learners in group or partner-based problem-solving tasks.
Developing and maintaining good relationships is central to the key skill of working with others. Opportunities to develop this skill arises frequently in physical activity participation and/or competition.
Being personally effective includes the ability to reflect on one’s own performance in different physical activities and to plan for improvement. Each of the models provides particular perspectives for learners about themselves as participants in physical activity.
The well-planned use of learning outcomes will enable teachers to support the development of the key skills and to assess learners’ progress in them. As teachers observe learners engaging in the different learning experiences, they can use these opportunities to provide formative feedback to learners about their use of key skills.