Last night, I spent ten minutes on social media. In this time, I was bombarded with solutions for best practice physical education in primary schools. I realise the irony here. 

There are so many organisations at national, regional and local level committed to the effective delivery of primary school physical education – all operating with a wealth of knowledge, experience, ideas and opinions. 

There is so much positive work being done, but this can make it difficult for schools, creating a choice fatigue. With good marketing, a prolific social media presence, and a talent for noisemaking, organisations and people win greater attention. But where should schools invest their time, energy and funding? 

Where is the fountain of all physical education wisdom?

There are numerous advisors and consultants on hand to steer head-teachers and PE coordinators towards best practice. But what is best practice physical education in the primary school setting?

With time, facilities, enthusiasm, commitment and expertise, best practice is weaving physical, cognitive, personal, social, creative and emotional development opportunities into a holistic physical education tapestry. Without such resources, best practice must still be attainable, but it has to be simple.

‘What’ we teach (content) and ‘how’ we teach (competence) are important. I would like us to reach beyond content and competence, and consider purpose? ‘Why’ do we teach physical education? What is our vision? 

What is the most important outcome from a primary school physical education for all pupils? 

Make time to think about this question in our own school setting, and we are half way there. Establish a vision for all pupils. Build a model for physical education around this vision. Keep it simple. 

By starting out with a vision, we are positioned to commit time, energy and funding to this golden circle of content, competence and purpose. 


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