PLPS: "Use PE as a driving force"

As the first half term comes to a close, we’ve looked back at our Premier League Primary Stars project and its return to ‘normal’ in-school delivery. The project aims to inspire primary school pupils to learn, be active and develop important life skills, with a large portion of our work focusing on supporting teachers with their delivery of Physical Education lessons.

In the previous four years of the project, we’ve worked with an average of 135 teachers per year. 91.5% of teachers have said their confidence in teaching PE had increased, with 100% of teachers improving their competence in their chosen area of development. This approach allows for sustainability, with teachers being better placed to deliver high quality PE lessons which ultimately has a positive impact on the pupils.

This academic year, however, has had a different approach, with a focus on the short term due to the impact of the national lockdown. We’ve been working with partner primary schools to help increase pupils’ levels of physical activity, whilst educating pupils on the importance and benefits of being physically active.

A recent article released by the Youth Sport Trust highlighted how pupils are returning to school with lower levels of fitness than before the coronavirus pandemic, and also reported that in some schools across the country ‘some teachers will deliver less or even no curriculum PE this term’.

Chris Debar, our PE Manager, told us, “Despite the world being a much different place than it was at the beginning of the year, we are as committed as ever to ensuring local pupils get given the opportunities to access high quality PE and physical activities. Returning to our school delivery where we are able to have such a big impact on both pupils and school staff was crucial for us. It’s allowed our staff to return to work doing what they love and helped support with their own welfare. Our partner schools have been fantastic in the way they’ve worked alongside us to ensure this delivery can go ahead in the safest possible manner.”

With a lot of pupils returning to school in September for the first time since March, we’ve worked with schools to ensure physical activity remains at the forefront of what they receive.

Giving these pupils opportunities to be physically active upon their return to school was an important aspect of their transition back to school, as Frankie Greenhalgh, Assistant Headteacher at Christ the King Catholic Primary Academy, recognised back in July.

“With our families adhering to the Government lockdown guidance, time spent outdoors being active was drastically reduced. Usually our children would spend time playing outdoors with friends, participating in two hours of PE per week and attending lunch and after school clubs. When planning the return to school, we wanted to ensure children had the opportunity be active as much as possible.” 

The same approach has been taken at Moor Park Primary School where the Community Trust have been working with pupils from years 3-6, providing physical activity sessions to encourage pupils to become active. These sessions have been successful in getting pupils physically active, as Claire Singleton, PE lead at the school, explained.

“This half term, children and physical activity has been a priority. After the lockdown, and the children coming back to school, it was very clear that they were lacking in appropriate fitness levels, communication and social skills. The BFCCT team have helped put the love back into exercise for our children and helped them develop their social and communication skills. The last six weeks of support from the Community Trust have been enjoyable for children and staff, which has given a sense of calm, confidence, and support to all, in these different times. They have taken on board our risk assessments as well as their own, to ensure their support is COVID safe and an environment where children and staff feel safe.”

Through the Premier League Primary Stars project the Community Trust work with schools each year in a range of ways, with PE and School Sport being the focal point.

Chris believes PE is pivotal to the development of pupils, “PE is often thought of as a break from learning or a chance for pupils to catch up in other subject areas. Our approach is to use PE as a driving force to develop children and young people in more ways than just their physical development and is a chance to instil a lifelong love of being physically active, which is vital for their own health and wellbeing. It’s great seeing some of our partner schools put an emphasis on this upon the full return of pupils.”

Now the dust has settled on our first term back, we’re looking forward to building on this great work in the run up to Christmas, continuing to ensure pupils are as physically active as possible whilst supporting teachers with their PE delivery.