Start with WHY...
According to a 10 year old child at a school in London, “Bryn is a genius.” However, his friends and family know the truth. Bryn worked in various UK schools for over 20 years as a teacher and school leader. In 2013, he founded Tagtiv8 Ltd.
His pioneering approaches to Physically Active Learning (PAL) help schools take learning beyond the classroom walls – crucial when challenging the increasing problem of sedentary lifestyles.
Bryn is co-director of Move & Learn (CIC) - as well as advising the BBC and the Premier League on their education content.
'Start with Why' says Simon Sinek in his seminal book of the same name.
Ask anyone who works in education, “What’s your Why?” and chances are the answers will be based around one or more of the following:
'I's a true vocation…'
'By becoming a teacher you get job satisfaction that few will experience...'
'I have a passion for the subject…'
'I want to inspire the next generation…'
As to my Why, I wanted to help change the world - full stop. As a teenager, I was a Friend of the Earth, a supporter of Greenpeace and CND, I attended rallies and organised fundraisers. I wasn’t exactly a tree hugger, nor did I eat brown rice and wear woolly socks. That said, I was committed enough to study for a degree in Environmental Studies at Sunderland Polytechnic. This culminated in a dissertation on Environmental Education.
Simply put, this is education:
about the environment
through the environment
for the environment.
Armed with a subsequent PGCE, I entered the world of teaching. As a male in a primary school, I ticked various boxes such as PE Lead, ICT Lead, Deputy Headteacher and Acting Headteacher.
I loved working in various schools in Bradford - as long as there was a balance between time with children and their families, colleagues, as well as external individuals and organisations. These people - artists, dramatists, musicians, choreographers, film makers, animators and sports coaches - added true value to the school community, whether it was on or offsite. They helped raise aspirations.
Sadly, when funding for creativity was axed, I lost my mojo. I was back to being a puppet of various education ministers, more interested in their own careers, government manifestos and their data-driven, narrow curriculum. Accountability meant that in some schools, curiosity and creativity was simply shunted to one side. Studying for the test works for some children, but it doesn’t work for all. Children simply cannot live on a staple diet of Mathematics, Reading, Writing and SPaG!
'Our bodies are designed to move - not sit, sit, sit.'
This was the cue for my jump out of the mainstream into the unknown. While teaching in Bradford, the local rugby league team, Bradford Bulls were in their ascendancy. Watching their coaches work with children during tag rugby sessions, I marvelled at the way girls and boys could play at the same level. A perfect level playing field. Now, what if the tags had colourful numbers and letters on? Could they then be used for thinking challenges? Let’s try something out, let’s play…
The playfulness resulted in Physically Active Learning (PAL) approaches with Tagtiv8. Successes were measured purely by smiles and anecdotal evidence:
“With PAL, you don’t get a chance to get bored - or zone out.”
"That was great - it takes a lot to get me to enjoy Maths.”
"I used to think I was rubbish at Maths, but now I know I’m not.”
Dr Andy Daly-Smith from Leeds Beckett University demonstrated impact with a gold-standard RCT, which went to NESTA, where Tagtiv8 received a 5 star rating. His initial research proves that PAL works as well as plays. Not only does it decrease sedentary time and increase activity levels, PAL also helps raise attainment.