Ofsted tells DfE it must build on success of scrapped School Sport Partnerships


The Department for Education (DfE) needs a new strategy for PE and school sport based on the success of School Sport Partnerships (SSPs), Ofsted has said.

The Department for Education (DfE) needs a new strategy for PE and school sport based on the success of School Sport Partnerships (SSPs), Ofsted has said.

A report by inspectors into PE provision found that there is more good and outstanding PE in schools now compared with when Ofsted last reported in 2008.

Inspectors visited 120 primary and 110 secondary schools and found PE to be good or outstanding in 72 per cent of the secondaries. Teaching and learning was also good or outstanding in three quarters of secondary schools.

The study found that the impact of SSPs in maximising participation and increasing competition was “clearly evident in the vast majority of schools visited”.

SSPs allowed local networks of schools and teachers extra time and resources to organise inter-school competitions and offer more activities for pupils. The coalition’s decision to cut the programme’s £162 million funding in 2011 sparked an outcry from teachers, sporting stars and other organisations.

The report states: “SSPs had helped subject leaders to develop a good or outstanding curriculum in most secondary schools. In particular, schools had extended provision to include a wider range of non-traditional and alternative activities that appealed to those pupils who did not enjoy participating in competitive games.

“Evidence is that these partnerships had left a notable legacy in the vast majority of secondary schools. Pupils’ enjoyed a much broader curriculum; their participation in mini-competitions, festivals and sporting events, and new opportunities to organise sport and lead others were firmly embedded and thoroughly enjoyed by large numbers of pupils.”

The report calls on the DfE to devise “a new national strategy for PE and school sport that builds on the successes of SSPs and enables schools to make a major contribution to the sporting legacy left by the 2012 Olympic Games”.

It also calls on secondary schools  to “foster stronger links between schools and local sports clubs and leisure providers to enable more pupils to participate and excel in PE, extra-curricular and community sport”.

Chief inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, said that PE in schools was “in good health”, but added:  “In many of the schools visited, the more able pupils were not challenged sufficiently because teachers’ expectations of them were too low. Schools with the best PE provision enabled pupils to achieve well by providing an ever increasing range of extra-curricular and traditional activities.”

Elsewhere, Ofsted’s report warned that in some schools, weak assessment procedures and minimal time for core PE “fuelled the perceptions of a very small minority of pupils that PE was merely a break from academic study”. 

It said that all schools with outstanding provision provided at least two hours of core PE each week in key stages 3 and 4 and, despite the government scrapping the two-hour weekly target for PE last year, it recommends that all schools should still aspire to this level of provision.

The report says that in some schools there needs to be a bigger focus on the physical aspect of the subject. It adds: “Too much teacher-talk and regular interruptions to record information and observe others performing prevented them from remaining physically active throughout lessons.”

Inspectors added that very few schools had adapted PE programmes to target the needs of overweight or obese pupils.

A DfE spokeswoman said: “We are working across government to consider a range of measures to improve PE and school sport as part of the Olympic and Paralympic legacy and will make an announcement in due course.

“The draft PE curriculum published last week is designed to put competitive sport back at the heart of school life and end the damaging ‘prizes for all’ culture. We are also extending the School Games and spending £1 billion on youth sport over the next five years.”

You can download the report, which contains a number of case studies, at www.ofsted.gov.uk/news/not-enough-physical-physical-education

Advice from Ofsted  

In its report, Beyond 2012: Outstanding PE for all, Ofsted highlights examples of outstanding provision, including the following:

  • Effective use of lesson time keeps pupils physically active for extended periods in order to improve their fitness.

  • Questioning while practising continuously challenges and extends pupils’ thinking.

  • Testing pupils on entry into year 7 gains a secure baseline of their knowledge, skills and understanding in PE.

  • Using netball/basketball to teach ball skills, principles of games-play and sports leadership is effective because all pupils are familiar with them.

  • Net games, such as table tennis, appeal to students of all abilities.

  • Subject leaders survey pupils to find out their views about the activities they would prefer.

  • Specialist coaches/instructors are used to teach ball games and more aesthetic activities such as dance and trampolining.

  • When class numbers are large enough, boys and girls are taught in single gender groups, by male and female PE staff.

  • Changes to the school’s PE kit enables girls to wear leggings, tracksuit bottoms and sweatshirts, which gives them added confidence in mixed-gender classes.

  • Pupils who are struggling with coursework are expected to attend GCSE PE revision classes/homework clubs.

  • Links between staff and pupils’ coaches or sports clubs enables external assessments of pupils’ performance.


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