Putting PE at the heart of a child’s education

University of Bedfordshire providing new way of teaching physical education

Primary School teachers across the country now have access to resources developed by the University of Bedfordshire that provide an innovative way of teaching physical education to children.

Made publically available on Times Educational Supplement, the teaching material, created in partnership with Virgin Active, means teachers – over half of whom want more training in teaching physical education – can hone their PE lessons accordingly.

With the intention of inspiring youngsters to take part in and enjoy physical activity, the core of the idea is to place themes around exercise, such as role playing as a superhero to improve strength and flexibility.

Helen Ives, Senior Lecturer and Course Coordinator Sport and Physical Education, said:

“We have been able to put together a programme that not only ensures teachers will have the tools necessary to teach PE but hopefully will also help primary age students develop a love of physical activity which will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

“The University is a leading trainer of physical education teachers in the country and it has been a privilege to put our academic expertise into practice.”

The fresh approach intends to boost both teachers’ confidence in teaching physical education and young children’s motivation for and interest and ability in PE.

The idea was borne out of a summer camp and teaching programme led by the University and Virgin Active. Current school teachers took part in the initiative, providing feedback and suggestions, which were then constructed into themed lesson plans by the University.

Current research shows one in three children across the UK are leaving primary school with negative feelings about being physically active. Two in five teachers say their students don’t enjoy PE lessons and believe 40% of children leave primary schools without the foundation movement skills to engage in physical activity.

Primary school teachers play a crucial role in helping children develop physical literacy. However, a third of teachers (32%) said they lack confidence when it comes to teaching PE.

Over a quarter of primary school teachers (28%) said they don’t feel adequately qualified to teach the subject and over half (53%) want more professional development opportunities for PE.

However, the majority (88%) of teachers say they recognise PE as important as the other subjects they teach.

Bedfordshire’s newly-devised lesson plans are tailored directly towards placing physical literacy at the centre of the curriculum with clear connections to other curricular subjects.  In essence the teachers integrate lessons on, for example history, and use physical education to bring this to life with children pretending to crawl through pyramids or escape from dinosaurs.

Furthermore this curriculum embeds the development of social skills in the activities with pupils working together to create the activities they play.  “It’s an approach which removes the notion of physical education being a standalone or separate subject and instead putting it at the heart of a child’s education.”

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