10,000 Hours Teaching PE.

Categories School Chat

To the PE experts on multiple teams calls and attending conferences each day, what would it take for you to close down your computer, put on your tracksuit and teach a few PE lessons each week?

In his book Outliers, Malcom Gladwell explains that reaching the 10,000-Hour Rule is simply a matter of practicing well a specific task that can be accomplished with 20 hours of work a week for 10 years.

Most full-time PE teachers will deliver about 20 hours of lessons a week for 39 weeks a year. To achieve expertise as a PE teacher will take 13 years (assuming your PE teaching hours don’t reduce as you pick up additional responsibilities).

I remember speaking with a teacher trainer who had come into my school to observe a colleague on the Graduate Teacher Program. One of the first things she said to me was, 

‘You can tell in an instant that you have been teaching PE for years and he has not.’ 

Working as a Director of Sport my greatest challenge was to lead by example as a committed PE teacher while protecting enough of my time to lead on an extensive PE/Games program. At the beginning of each day, I would look forward to non-teaching/leadership time. By the end of the day, the most rewarding moments were always from lessons I had taught.

Prior to this role, I worked as a secondary Head of PE with multiple Heads of Year in my department. I always remember my PGCE mentor suggesting how Heads of Year (and he was one) should remember 80% of their salary is for teaching (admittedly this role is tough and immensely time consuming). On the back of this memory, I wrote across our PE department whiteboard, ‘Teaching is why we are here’.

When we get the teaching bit right much of the rest of what we do in schools falls more neatly into place.

I qualified as a PE teacher 22 years ago and have been leading on a fitness/physical literacy program in schools since 2016. To this day I take enormous pride in teaching 15+ hours of fitness/physical literacy in schools every week. It enables me to directly impact my core purpose and it keeps me grounded.

In the coming Spring term, I will be teaching 27 x 30-Minute Gymrun lessons (& 2 x PE lessons) every week in schools and as part of the NHS childhood obesity program in locations including North/South Bristol. South Gloucestershire, Slough and London. And I can’t wait to get stuck in.

Using Malcom Gladwell’s rule, how many of those delivering PE in primary schools, and how many of those talking and shaping PE/physical literacy policy in schools, would qualify as expert PE teachers?

With primary schools in such short supply of qualified PE staff (and so overstretched), to those talking and shaping policy, what might it take to get you working with children in schools on one or two days each week where you will be directly impacting your core purpose?

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