Monitoring physical progress in every child

Categories School Chat

The amount of children who are unfit and physically illiterate in the UK is growing rapidly. This huge societal issue is problematic on so many levels. Schools can and must step forward, as part of a multi-faceted solution. 

Let’s consider the Sports Premium Funding (SPF). The greatest challenge with this funding is the physical education experiences of those responsible for spending it. Primary School PE Coordinators and Headteachers have unintentionally become the client. These positions are held by teachers who are not usually physical educationalists. The feelings of these staff in relation to Physical Education, Fitness and Sport, and the value of assessment and failure within these, will be informed by their own experiences. These individuals may feel they are protecting vulnerable children with a less physical narrative.

Yes, inclusion and differentiation are essential. Contrary to popular belief, this more sensitive, child-centred approach is largely available in Physical Education today. But this physical education must prioritise physical development in every child.

Misplaced SPF spending can be compounded by policymakers who continue to measure the impact of Physical Education by physical activity levels. Although well-intentioned, these activity levels fail to indicate the actual physical progress made by every child. Furthermore, while it’s important we understand academic models promoting play, constraints-based and holistic learning within a physical education, we need to tread carefully in this space. These methods have inherent value, but do they ensure every child is developing physically?

True accountability for the SPF requires the regular monitoring of physical progress in every child. If this were to become statutory in schools, PE curriculum time would be better protected. Some within the sector may not warm to this level of transparency, but increasing scrutiny demonstrates care and diligence. And it works.

Finally, we need to distil Physical Education to provide a clear and anchoring definition. In physical literacy we have a term which is gaining momentum. Let’s begin here. 

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