Organising field events during a primary school athletics carnival can be fraught with safety problems. This is because you may have mass participation with many students new to the whole process involved especially in the throwing events. It is, therefore essential that the teacher sets up a process to ensure not only the safety of the students but also the efficient organisation of the event.
Included below is how I go about organising field events such as discus, javelin and shot-put.
Let me begin by detailing my safety precautions/rules. Many of these may seem petty and obvious but they can be overlooked. It is better to be over cautious than sorry later when a child is hurt.
Rule 1: No student is permitted in front of the throwing area except the student who is retrieving the discus, shot-put or javelin.
Rule 2: No student will have a throwing implement in his/her hand in the throwing area when another student is retrieving an implement.
Rule 3: The next student to throw waits behind the throwing area until the teacher calls him/her up to throw.
Rule 4: No student will throw the implement until he/she gets the all clear from the officiating teacher.
Rule 5: The student retrieving the implement will bring it back to the throwing area and place on the ground ready for the next student to use. He/she must not throw the implement back. He/she must then return to the area in which the competitors are sitting and sit in the correct position for his/her next throw.
Rule 6: The students who are competing must sit down in the throwing order well away from and behind and to the left or right of the throwing area in full view of the officiating teachers.
Rule 7: Students must at all times watch each and every throw in case there is an aberrant throw.
Rule 8: Students who break the safety rules will not receive any extra warning and will face possible disqualification from the event.
Rule 9: Teachers must constantly check the students to ensure that they are at all times acting in a safe way and in accordance with the safety rules.
Now let me discuss how I organise the throwing process.
Step 1: The students sit down in the area designated for them to sit while they wait their turn to throw.
Step 2: The safety rules are explained.
Step 3: The competition rules are explained, e.g. fouls.
Step 4: The throwing and retrieving processes are explained.
Step 5: The students are lined up and seated in their competing order.
Step 6: Each student gets a practice throw and goes through the whole process of throwing and retrieving to make sure everyone understands the process.
Step 7: The measuring process is demonstrated and the next student to throw helps in that process.
Step 8: The teachers' roles are explained. One teacher will oversee the throwing area (fair and foul throws) and record the distances of each throw. The other teacher will organise the measuring point for the throw and make sure the competing students are seated in the right place watching each throw.
This process may seem to some people as "very military". (A parent described it that way to a school principal). However, it keeps the students safe and leads to an efficient organisation of the event within the time period available. It establishes that you are concerned about safety and the organisation of an excellent event.
Remember: It is better to be safe than sorry.