How is PE in primary schools looking as we move towards 2021

How is PE in primary schools looking as we move towards 2021

After all our children have been through in this crazy year it seems that the sliding scale of school’s approaches to Physical Education in a “Covid world” has a huge disparity. Some schools are placing the physical and mental wellbeing of their pupils (and staff) at the forefront of a return to education.

A small number of schools are increasing their PE provision and a greater number are creating additional outside learning opportunities. The best are ensuring PE is active, engaging and challenging for the pupils, teaching them new skills and developing their abilities.

There are schools with “dip bins” of antibacterial solution to ensure equipment can be used and shared safely, and there are schools taking time to teach the children mindfulness techniques and practice Yoga. They are developing and nurturing the whole child. Some schools have taken on the approach of “there is no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing” and kitting their pupils out with wet weather gear.

However, there are others whose PE is being cancelled if its wet, as extended lunchtimes mean the hall is out of action for a longer period, or they have simply opted not to use the indoor spaces, due to perceived risk.

There are schools who have not taken the time to read the PE guidance from Sports England & individual sports National Governing Bodies, as they wade through the paperwork for other areas of the school and dismiss PE as of lesser importance. They mistakenly believe they should not use any equipment for PE and thus struggle to create interesting and engaging lessons. If schools work with us, of course we are fully informed of the latest guidance and can navigate our schools through these challenges, simply and with great confidence. But if a school has a PE co-ordinator only in name, not actions, or there is an environment of fear of doing the wrong thing, the cause for concern is great.

With my knowledge of the integral role PE plays in the most successful primary schools and the integral role it SHOULD play in all schools, I find myself explaining time and again that if you gift one hour of Numeracy allocated time to additional Physical Education each week, you will not see a fall in attainment for Numeracy, in fact in several studies the opposite has been found, with children achieving a higher level of attainment in Maths.

You will also certainly see a marked increase in childrens self esteem and their physical health.

The focus in so many schools appears to be on “catch up” and upcoming assessments. Can I just ask…WHO exactly are our children supposed to be catching up to?!?

They were ALL off school for the best part of six months, being home educated to varying degrees. The only catching up I can see is the catching up to the governments already unrealistic academic expectations.

So, how is it looking, well there’s some good, some bad and some indifferent, but that is NOT good enough. So, this is an invitation; to active schools, to P.E. co-ordinators and sports coaches who fight for P.E’s rightful place as a core subject and to parents. It is time for us to stand up and make our voices heard.

It is time to ask the questions, challenge the answers and demand change, for our children and for the future adults they will become.

Our children need an active future, but right now, they need an active present.