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Is variety the answer to a lifelong love of being active?

Think back to your most successful PE lesson. The chances are it was when all children were engaged and involved, working together, supporting each other and having fun. Successful PE is when everyone takes part and learns something to aid their progress. 

Making sure all pupils have a positive experience of PE can sometimes be a challenge. Children who are good at sports can get frustrated with those less able, and those less skilled can resent being made to take part. 

Our enjoyment, or not, of PE can have a long-lasting impact on our lives. 

What difference does enjoying PE make? 

A report from Youth Sport Trust highlights that a positive experience of PE, school sport and physical activity at school lasts a lifetime. Parents who have happy memories of PE and school sport are more likely to be active as adults and encourage their children to be active. This is the latest in a long line of research looking into the long-term impact of PE at school. 

A study by Middlesex University also found that bad experiences of physical education at school can put some adults off exercise for decades. It also found that it can lead to some people experiencing ‘corporeal dissociation’ – a state of physical detachment which potentially results in adult inactivity and making particular life choices such as opting for sedentary jobs and hobbies. 

How can I ensure all children enjoy PE?

We are all different; finding out the kind of activities that your pupils enjoy will help you create a broad and balanced PESSPA programme that the whole class wants to take part in.

Letting children try out different sports and activities can significantly increase the chances of them finding something that they enjoy, succeed in and/or that interests them. Children who have good balance might realise they enjoy climbing, cycling, dance or gymnastics. Those with good hand-eye co-ordination could find they shine at games – frisbee, cricket or tennis, for example.

Including a variety of traditional and more modern sports and games will keep your children excited about moving. Trying out different activities means they can discover and develop new skills. It keeps them interested, stimulated and challenged too.

How can I add variety to my PE lessons?

Go back to basics. Look at your PE curriculum and make sure it includes different activities, sports and games that focus on developing different skills – running, jumping, throwing and catching, balancing, agility and co-ordination. 

Provide opportunities for children to have a go at both competitive and cooperative physical activities. 

You can also use external providers to boost your curriculum offer. Our Coaching Days can broaden children’s experiences of different sports and activities by providing exciting taster sessions in the chosen activity. This could spark a half-term of engagement in the activity on your playground or inspire pupils to join community clubs.

Providing a platform for children to realise their sporting potential in a safe environment will help them to remain active throughout their life. 

Further information

Get in touch to find out more about our Coaching Days

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PE – more than keeping fit

Do you find PE, school sport and physical activity generally come off ‘second best’ at your school? Lessons or activities are cancelled to make way for school photo shoots, plays, exams or tests…

While many people understand the benefits of being active in terms of our physical health, less well understood are the wider benefits and how PESSPA can be used to help children to develop key skills and values. These wide-ranging benefits are often overlooked and there are few schools that capitalise on the full potential that PE offers as an educational tool.

What are the wider benefits of PE?

A subject frequently dominated by traditional sports such as football, netball and athletics; teams and fixtures, there can be a limited understanding amongst the school staff team as to the wider benefits of PE.

PE can support all-round development, from intellectual to emotional. Children learn how to negotiate, collaborate, compromise, make decisions, lead and communicate. PESSPA also supports resilience and determination. 

How to overcome challenges, plan, set goals, adapt, assess and manage risks can all be learned, developed and practised through PE.

3 ways to use physical activity to support personal development 

Here are three activities that you can use to support personal development in your school:

Teamwork, collaboration and leadership: Divide the class into groups and give each group the task of creating their own game, physical activity routine or exercise session. As well as working together to decide on the structure of the game or activity, they would need to decide on rules, what equipment is needed and plan how they will explain and deliver the session. 

Empathy and kindness: Have the group form a circle (or two circles if a large group), players must pass the ball across the group to someone. The person throwing the ball must say something kind about the person they are throwing to. Everyone must be passed the ball and the ball must continue to move so there is limited time to think. 

Self-motivation, determination and resilience: Set a series of short challenges or activities eg squats, burpees, lunges, torso twists. Start a timer and each child counts how many of each activity they can do in 3 minutes. They record their results and repeat the challenges weekly to see if they can perform more repetitions in the 3 minutes. 

Further information

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4 ways to ensure you get the most from your PE Premium Funding

The deadline for spending Primary PE and Sport Premium funding carried over from last academic year (2019-20) is the end of this summer term (2021).

This ringfenced funding is designed to help give children an active start in life by supporting schools to improve the quality of their PE, physical activity and sport provision. Being active helps children to become mentally and physically healthier and leads to improved behaviour and academic achievement.

With so many tools, techniques, resources and support available, it can be difficult to decide where best to invest the funding. Here are four ways to ensure you and your pupils get the most from the grant.

Carry out an audit

Look at the whole-school PESSPA offer – what do you offer each year group and how is it delivered? This includes auditing staff competence and confidence, identifying what activities are taught well and those that aren’t. The Youth Sports Trust has a very useful audit tool to help you do this.

You can use your PE and Sport Premium funding to invest in staff CPD including auditing your provision and staff competency.

Create your vision – what you want you want your school PESSPA to look like?

Be ambitious about what you want your PESSPA to look like. What are the strengths and what can you build on and develop? Include your PE and physical activity day-to-day offer and children and staff attitudes to PESSPA. How valued is the subject and how embedded is it across the whole school?

Consider what your short and long-term aims are. Does your ambition require a culture change or just a few tweaks? What steps do you need to put in place to get there? Think about what you want the legacy of your Sport Premium to be. How far have you come since the introduction of the funding? Consider what you have achieved so far and how far you have to go to achieve your goal. What are the best next steps to move you forward?

A legacy could be to have a highly skilled team. Funding can be used to support your colleagues to develop skills in a new area such as outdoor learning or to address whole-school motivations and relationships with physical activity. Or you can use it to access external support to enhance the quality of your programmes.

Identify what you need to focus on

Be really honest about where you are and what you need to focus on. As well as thinking about what you want to develop, remember to consider what your children need. How can you embed this? Be ambitious with your ideas and then look realistically at the steps that need to be taken to get there.

Involve children in shaping your PESSPA programme. It is an opportunity to engage children in activities that may not have been part of your PE curriculum but would help develop fundamental skills.

5 key indicators – are they all equal?

Do you really need to focus on all 5 key indicators, or would it be better for your pupils to address one of them really well? Is there anything within your school improvement plan that you can link your activities to? Look at how your PESSPA offer supports academic attainment or behaviour and social development – raising the expectations around behaviour and attitudes of particular groups of children.

You can use your funding to embed successful physically active learning approaches and programmes that support areas such as behaviour or developing an active curriculum.

Go Well has an extensive PESSPA support programme, from in-school training and delivery to activity packages that will help you and your teams improve the quality of PE within the school and support more children to develop an active lifestyle.