Post-COVID PE: How to tackle it.
PE is slowly starting to return to its former glory but there are many challenges that lie ahead. Opportunities for children to engage in Physical Education and physical activities (PA) have dramatically decreased over the past year resulting in a huge rise in sedentary lifestyles. This blog will highlight some of the issues and offer the cure to a COVID hangover.
Putting the ‘E back in PE’:
Let me start by applauding Joe Wicks for his extreme efforts in keeping the nation active. I sincerely hope he has a knighthood in the post, what a hero! However, I do worry about the image of PE now just being a HIT session and that’s it, job done. It is now our mission to ‘put the E back in PE’ and ensure we deliver on education. Children have missed a substantial amount of time from their learning. The interruption to the flow of progress has been halted and gaps in subject knowledge will start to emerge. We must address this by offering the right balance of focus on physical activity and physical education. Next time you’re in a PE lesson ask yourself this, are the children learning?
I really feel for the children who have been in Year 6 the last couple of years, partly because my favourite memories of school are playing for the school football team, and so many children have missed out on this. Coming up to the summer term, with fewer restrictions and nicer weather, it is pivotal we host intra-competitions within our school bubbles. I really value competition as it provides so many opportunities for learning and growth. In my school, Year 6 have planned 6 different competitions for each year group. This is in place of Sports Leaders positions and opportunities they would have had this year.
Perfect time to raise the profile:
This is the time for us to drive the importance of PE and embed it within our school cultures. The data coming out on activity levels over lockdown is frightening but expected. ‘Activity levels have fallen with just 19% of under 16’s doing at least an hour of physical activity each day, this compares to 46.8% prior to COVID. Moreover, 43% are doing less than 30 minutes a day compared to 29% before coronavirus hit.’ (greatersport.co.uk, 2021). We need to tackle the COVID hangover coming our way and part of that fight is fitting regular physical activity into an already crowded curriculum. There are some tips below for squeezing PA into your school day. Getting back to raising the profile, the easiest way to do this is to share what the data is showing us and reveal the problems we are facing. This will give you a solid rationale for boosting your PE provision and developing a bigger buy in from staff. Reveal the problem and rationale, share the solution and the vision.
Tips for squeezing Physical Activity into a busy school day:
Launch the Daily Mile during breaks/lunch breaks - The first thing I did when I returned to work last week was find the biggest speaker I could in school so I could relaunch the Daily Mile and blast some music to raise engagement.
YouTube workouts – I use GoNoodle and Just Dance videos to get my children dancing in between tasks and lessons. It’s a great way to get children moving and refocused while I hand out books and get set up.
Take your Maths/Literacy lessons outside – When you can, take your lessons outside. This will provide a break in sedentary lifestyles whilst keeping you committed to teaching and learning.
Kit out your bubbles – Ensure that each bubble has PLENTY of resources on the yard to play with during their breaks. One thing I’ve noticed, and really appreciated, is the space children now have on the yard as year groups aren’t sharing break times. Children now have the space to pick up a tennis ball and racket and start practising. They have the comfort of a much smaller audience watching as they pick up the skipping ropes. They don’t have to wait for their day or turn on the football pitch.