Yes Physical education needs breadth and balance, knowledgeable teachers who have great pedagogy and we all need to have intent and know what a deep dive is blah, blah, blah but above all it needs people who inspire; who are prepared to be generous with their time, be unstintingly optimistic and to make the experience for the children, fun.
PE teachers / sports coaches come in all different forms. There are the purists who deliver a full curriculum and lead the subject to School Games Mark Platinum (with no white lies) and the children in their schools love PE and will go on loving PE, sport and exercise and be physically literate throughout life given the right climate. Then there are those teachers/ coaches who only deliver what they feel comfortable with- that can be a curriculum that’s games…. and more games…. and a curriculum aligned to The School Games where they go Pot-hunting for trophies to show how important they are to the school. At the same time they naively think that’s great. In their rhetoric it’s great that a team of 5 children have brought home a cup…..never mind the other 25 in the class who never get to do a gym, dance or OAA lesson all year.
So we need to appoint the right people and to be clear that good physical education is about breadth and balance and teaching and learning from a programme that’s progressive. We need a WALT board in every teaching area, making it explicit what the children are learning and, below it, the explicit steps to success. We need teachers and children to know how to differentiate using STEP so there is a culture of support and challenge and shared knowledge and understanding. We need every school to have sent someone on the Sainsbury’s Inclusion course and to share that back in school.
The recent changes to the Ofsted framework should be great news for PE. Amid the hysteria of all subject leaders writing knowledge organisers and preparing for Deep Dives I would like to return to something I tell any colleagues I work with, who lead PE….’You should be asking your HT for at least 5% of your PE and Sports Premium funding to release you to plan intent, monitor implementation and prove the impact’. To show intent you need a programme of study and starting that from scratch is not easy, nor is deciding on the best of the multitude of schemes of work out there because none of them are perfect! Some are very good, but are they very good for your school, its children, and its environment and with the resources and staff you have? Better to take your time than push yourself to an early grave and do it well. If it takes 18 months so be it! The RE leader and the geography leaders can probably juggle their intentions after school. That’s because they’re not running a club, or coordinating 3 others or taking a team, or tidying that cupboard that everyone dumps stuff in.
Ofsted…… so less emphasis on data and a real focus on implementation…..well, if they want us to show that we are serious about PE let’s start by going to Head teachers and demanding that our Teaching Assistants are in PE lessons with us, supporting the learning in PE and not being used to lead interventions to groups of disappointed kids. In my experience, the difference this makes is incredible especially when TAs are involved in training in how to support in PE. As for Impact – for primary PE leads it should be a breeze- you’ve been doing that year on year,…filling in the school games mark applications and PE and Sports Premium reports.