Film ID:
YFA 2222



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This film documents physical education in New Earswick Primary School.  The commentary emphasises the importance of individuality and free expression in producing a full and harmonious physical development.  

Titles:  Presented by the Joseph Rowntree Village Trust

Originated by and Produced under the direction of W. Pearson, Organiser of Physical Education to the North Riding of Yorkshire Education Committee.  Script A.G. Joselin. Photography. .  F Micklethwaite

This film indicates the effectiveness of modern methods in PHYSICAL EDUCATION suited to the growth and development of children in the PRIMARY SCHOOL.

Free To Grow Up 

The film opens with views of York Minster from the city walls as well as scenes of the Shambles.  The commentary speaks of the need for, “full and harmonious physical development.”  Groups of teenage schoolgirls walk and cycle through city centre.  Then groups of school children arrive at school by bus.  The commentary poses the question of what freedom of expression and movement did they bring to their secondary school from the physical education they received at primary school.  The film then presents New Earswick Primary School as an example of such physical education; and a young person, called John Smith, an ex-pupil of New Earswick Primary School, is given as an example of such a child.  He is shown leaving home to start at secondary school. 

The outside of the school is shown, and children play in the adjoining school field.  After playing, the boys and girls fall into single-file lines and return to their lesson.  A teacher puts up exercise equipment, and the children get changed for gym.  They make their way outside, taking with them equipment: ropes, hoops, mats and chairs.  The children do some individual exercises, including attempted headstands, before they gather around the teacher who leads them on an ‘imaginary walk’ on their hands and feet.  He then leads other activities like ‘being a kangaroo’ and ‘being a crab.’  The children split into groups to do a variety of games.  The commentary emphasises the benefit of freedom to do different activities.  Other activities shown include girls skipping, boys and girls hopping on one foot, and boys doing different exercises with hula-hoops.  Whilst the children play on rope ladders, the voice over comments on the satisfaction to be had from the activities, and then on the fact that, at this age, the activities are done as individuals rather than as team work, with 6 year old girls demonstrating forward rolls.  After a demonstration by the teacher, they do crouch jumps before trying handstands. 

Inside the classroom, a class of 6 year olds run by a teacher at the piano.  The commentary emphasises the importance of learning rhythm.  The children move according to the rhythms of the music.  Then a class of 8 year olds are shown at a further stage of development: skipping, rocking on the floor, doing cartwheels and handstands (we are told that girls are better at this than boys).  The commentary highlights the importance of variety –the children doing many different activities with a beanbag – and of attention being removed from the body to the activity itself.  After the exercises the children relax lying on the floor. 

There is footage of a train coming into a railway station before showing the children mimicking aspects of this real life situation, such as the movements of the pistons.  The commentary emphasises the importance of making imaginative use of simple things in developing confidence in movement.  This is illustrated by imaginative games, such as trying different ways to get along a bench.  Children also do a variety of foot exercises to aid mobility.  The commentary notes that the focus is on the individual pupil, and that this requires planning by the teacher.  A class is shown watching a film about techniques in jumping.

The commentary states, “Only in free activity can the natural differences between boys and girls, and between individuals, be adequately catered for.”  It also highlights the importance of suppleness and mobility, as well as strength, with these being illustrated by a group of 10 year olds doing various difficult exercises, such as walking on their hands.  These children are now ready to do group activities, using gym equipment such as the horse and the long box, with the commentary noting the teachers' responsibility for safety.  It also notes that there is no compulsion or formal teaching of skills, even though complex skills are demonstrated.  The commentary states, “the physique of some the boys is already enabling them to outdo the girls.”  The children do a variety of complex gym exercises on the vaulting equipment, and using climbing ropes.  The development of the children is demonstrated by comparing the performance of groups of children at ages 6, 8 and 10 doing various physical activities, such as ‘the crab.’ 

The film then moves on to show how the development of individual free movement leads on to patterned dances, with 8 year old boys and girls paired up, dancing around a field and holding hands.  The groups hold hands and dance in circles.  At 10 years old the children learn more complex dancing, again with the emphasis on individual free movement as part of a collective dance.  The children are shown expressing themselves by enacting ‘lighting a bonfire.’ 

There are girls lined up against the side of a swimming pool, bobbing up and down, and then floating whilst holding hands in a ring.  The children go through various stages to learn how to swim.   

Children play games with bat and ball, and the commentary notes that individual activity eventually gives way to team activity, claiming that, “the game itself is the best motivator.”  The focus on the individual means that all can gain satisfaction, as in learning the ‘quick steps’ used when starting in a race.  The children then take part in the sprint and relay races. 

The film ends by going back to the changing room, where John Smith gets dressed and gets ready to go to school.  The commentary notes that he takes with him from primary school the satisfaction and confidence which result from being free from the constraints of formal instruction, “in which his spontaneous activity has been the main motivator,” and where they become, “free to create, to adapt and learn.” 

End credits:  Filmed at The New Earswick Primary school in the North Riding of Yorkshire.  Head Master. . A.J. Hall. Physical Education . . . L.J. Somerset by the Yorkshire Film Company Ltd.