By Paul Quinn

This year has seen all industries and sectors impacted in some way, shape or form. Physical Education has certainly not been immune to this. We have seen a plethora of guidance and interpretation of guidance flood our social media feeds around what can and can’t be done in a school setting around PE provision. Further factors to consider have included the provision of extra curricular activities, bubbles, changing, curriculum design, staff safety, equipment and much more!

This has been a huge challenge for the PE sector, however, once again our experience on the ground as we visit many schools is that common sense has prevailed in most settings. AfPE published guidance in July 2020 with their initial interpretation of government guidance ahead of the start of the new academic year (search "AfPE PE guidance" for latest). School’s have produced their own risk assessments and what is apparent, once again, is that every school has its own nuances to consider when planning and delivering PE in the world of COVID-19.

If there is ever a time when government and senior decision makers in the education sector made PE a leading force in the school day it is now! PE has come so far over the last few decades from the iconic stereotypical scenes in the film Kes in the 70’s to a world where we are seeing more and more innovation and progress across the subject. COVID-19 provides undoubted challenges, but as thousands of teachers are demonstrating across the world, these can be overcome to provide high quality PE for a generation of children who need the subject and what it offers more than ever.

Some of the key elements of good practice we have witnessed around COVID-19 include:

  • Pupils attending school PE ready where appropriate
  • Hand hygiene at the start and end of every lesson
  • Pupils being taught in school ‘bubbles’
  • Lessons taught outside where possible but inside spaces used to prevent PE lessons being adversely impacted (with good ventilation)
  • Equipment wiped down at the end of lesson by pupils/staff
  • School’s maintaining a broad and balanced PE curriculum

‘Schools have the flexibility to decide how physical education, sport and physical activity will be provided whilst following the measures in their system of controls.’ -

It is so important we continue to play our part in supporting young people’s health and well being through the delivery of PE within curriculum time. The benefits for them as individuals transcend way ‘beyond the physical’ and when we have so much anxiety and uncertainty in the world PE can provide that structured mental release many pupils require to help them focus, be more productive
and ultimately flourish during their time at school.

Top 3 Tips for COVID PE

Keep-up-to-date with guidance

Follow the latest advice from the government and AfPE. Make sure you know and adhere to any policies, including your school policies and risk assessment. If you are not sure, check what is and isn't allowed with school SLT.

Make sure PE happens for every child

Things might be different, and PE may be restricted. But make sure lessons still take place. Do what you can. Be inventive, be enthusiastic. Don't make the pandemic an excuse to skip PE lessons. If you need ideas for lessons, get in touch with the BtP team!

Plan the learning

Some parts of the PE National Curriculum may be really tricky to align to during COVID-PE. But there may be other aspects which are easier. For example, it may be a good opportunity to focus on social skills and thinking skills. 

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