Why goals in PE should reach further than nets and hoops

With childhood obesity and mental health coming increasingly under the spotlight, the need to promote an active lifestyle amongst young people is greater than ever. For many children, active habits begin in PE lessons through the stimulation and connection offered by sport. However, in a sport-led curriculum, it is all too easy for those children who struggle to access sports to be left by the wayside, and to develop the mindset from a young age that PE and indeed physical activity is not for them. To raise healthy and active children, we should be considering the broader impact PE can have and look to move from a sport-led to a child-centred approach, where the activity or sport is seen as a servant and a vehicle for learning – making PE inclusive, stimulating and challenging to meet the needs of EVERY child.

Fundamental Movement Skills (FMS) form a key tenet of government physical education policy for younger children. FMS aim to equip children with the basic skills of agility, balance and co-ordination through activities such as running, jumping, throwing, catching and performing basic floor patterns – skills which form the building blocks that underpin the ability to play and be involved in many different activities and sports. By placing sport rather than the pupils at the centre of the PE curriculum, children are frequently expected to perform and combine complex movements without having developed the basic FMS. This often results in a ‘sink or swim’ situation where many children experience a sense of failure, potentially clouding their enthusiasm not only for sport but for being physically active for life.

A child-centred approach in PE establishes not only the physical skills and abilities we want our children to develop, but also aids the development of the key abilities they need to be successful both within PE and Sport and across the curriculum. By employing activities and an approach which puts the child rather than the sport or activity first, PE can develop a range of personal, social, cognitive and creative abilities that transfer outside the physical activity environment, whilst also contributing to health and fitness.

A child-centred approach also fulfils the government’s PE priorities, including the new Ofsted framework, For children, certainly at primary level, the key priority for PE is to encourage an enjoyment of being active and create a positive relationship with physical activity that will last a lifetime. When pupils are enjoying PE outstanding learning happens, resulting in confident, resilient and independent young people. Positive activity offers a wealth of benefits to growing minds and bodies, and by delivering a child-focused curriculum that places an emphasis on FMS and developing important life skills the long-term goals achieved in PE will benefit them for life. The good news is we don’t need to compromise – by developing these skills, we are ultimately equipping them with the potential to be successful within a sporting context – a win-win!

Create Development’s unique learning platform, Jasmine, gives teachers access to a wealth of resources, including interactive and flexible lesson plans, and is a great place to start for any teacher keen to find out more about delivering a child-focused PE curriculum and giving their pupils a boost they will embrace.

Visit jasmineactive.com to view sample Lesson Plans to try with your children.

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