Research review identifies factors of effective PE

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
Image: Adobe Stock

The factors that contribute to high-quality PE curriculum, assessment and pedagogy have been set out in Ofsted’s latest subject research review.

The inspectorate is conducting regular reviews into specific curriculum subjects, drawing upon the latest research and evidence from school inspections to distil what effective practice might look like.

The national curriculum for PE is compulsory at key stages 1 to 4 and aims to ensure that all pupils are physically active for sustained periods of time and develop the competence to excel in a broad range of physical activities.

The Association of PE recommends two hours of PE a week, but previous Ofsted research from 2018 found that only 69% of schools met this goal.

The review says that key to meeting the national curriculum’s aims are building firm foundations in fundamental motor skills – which the review describes as the first pillar of progression in PE. The second is rules, strategies, and tactics, while the third is healthy participation.

Unsurprisingly, the review says that crucial to high-quality provision is providing pupils with high-quality instruction, practice, and feedback.

While the review acknowledges that there is “no single way of achieving high-quality PE”, it finds common features of good provision:

  • Teachers know that PE includes clearly defined knowledgethat can usefully be categorised as either declarative or procedural.
  • Leaders and teachers have thought carefully about what it is to know more and do more in PE. This understanding is informed by the national curriculum’s aims, and component knowledge has been identified to develop pupils’ competence.
  • A strong foundation is built on fundamental movement skills (FMS), starting in the early years and developed through transitional activities into more specialised sport and physical activity.
  • Teachers make sure that pupils’ movement is not only efficient and effective but intelligent and context-related. They ensure pupils have knowledge of rules, strategies and tactics in order to guide successful movement.
  • Leaders and teachers select physical activities and sports based on their capacity to develop pupils’ competence in PE. They identify key concepts to teach and build pupils’ understanding incrementally.
  • The PE curriculum meets the needs of all pupils, including those with SEND. All pupils feel included and able to succeed within the subject.
  • Pupils are supported to know more and do more All pupils benefit from high-quality instruction, practise and feedback.
  • Assessment approaches should identify the knowledge pupils have and have not acquired.
  • Teachers of PE have high levels of subject and pedagogical knowledge.

Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman said: “For many pupils, those two hours of school PE each week are their only structured physical activity. An ambitious PE curriculum levels the playing field by giving all pupils the benefits of physical activity and sport, despite the advantages that some pupils will have outside the school gates. I hope this review helps raise the quality of PE for all young people.”

Ofsted intends to publisha full subject report on PE provision in due course.


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