The Value of PE

PE should provide a valuable learning experience for every student. However, it shouldn’t be a one size fits all approach, where competitive sport is always the main focus. The experience should be relevant and unique to each individual student.

Most (if not all) PE teachers love sport and can wax lyrical about the physical, mental and social benefits of playing it. Understandably, they want to enthuse young people to share their passion and in doing so, have similar positive experiences as they do/did. Yet one does not gain qualified teacher status (QTS) in “sports” or “games”. Being a physical educator is about more than getting young people involved in sport. Not every child dreams of being an elite athlete and often children have a range of other interests and hobbies that aren’t sport related.

What should be important to a young person, is that they develop their physical literacy, regardless of whether they want to play competitive sport or not.  Developing mental and social well being and learning how to make healthy lifestyle choices is also important, as is developing self confidence and interpersonal skills which they can use in any context as an adult.

PE doesn’t always have to be about inspiring young people to be an elite athlete or even to play competitive sport throughout their adult life. In fact, the latest figures from Sport England show that the number of people taking part in competitive sport at least once a week is reducing  This inspite of the fact it is the year following the London 2012 games. Obviously there is an even lower percentage of students that become professional athletes. This trend strengthens the case for PE departments to be more than just a place for young people to play sport.

In my last post, I wrote about two students that transferred to our academy during ks4 and the challenges we faced to engage them in PE. Read the post by clicking here.The post was prompted by a magic moment I experienced when they walked past me in full PE kit to collect equipment for their physical activity club for pre-school aged children.

Recently, they both went on work experience in early years settings and returned saying they enjoyed their placement so much, they didn’t want to come back to school! For these students, who previously hated PE, a subject they learnt at a previous school that they were no good at (and one we have being trying hard to tell them they are) is now being seen as one in which they are both gaining fundamental skills and experience to prepare them for a career in early years child care.
This example of how our department has redefined PE for these particular students, reflects the stance that for some, PE is a subject that harnesses a love of sport, but for others it might be about developing a persons physical literacy or developing them into a confident and decent human being with a wide range of interpersonal skills.

It might be worth noting that I have just received confirmation that several of our KS 4 students have just just been selected for the Cabot Learning Federation representative rugby squad following my nominations and taking them to trial tournaments. For these students, high level competitive sport is the main focus in PE. Our challenge is to ensure that every child benefits from their PE experience and does not miss out at the expense of a department with too narrow a focus on any one area.


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