We welcome a guest blog from Dan Young, Curriculum and Content Manager for iPEP, the
Interactive Physical Education Planner. Dan has been teaching for nearly 6 years, after gaining a PGCE in Secondary Physical Education. Dan has had a varied teaching experience; starting in Mainstream PE, before spending 4 years working in SEMH and SEND schools, and then starting a role with iPEP in June 2021.
You can find iPEP's PE scheme on our PE page.
“Health is a complete state of physical, mental and social wellbeing, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” (WHO). This is etched into my brain! (so many essays, assignments- I could recite this in my sleep). PE works hand in hand with this statement; it addresses all 3 domains of 'Health’. I always like to view Physical Education as two separate entities. The ‘Physical’ introduces pupils to a range of movements and skills which are transferrable across life, not just sports. The ‘Education’ aspect of the subject provides pupils with the knowledge and understanding of their bodies, fitness, and the benefits of physical activity. For me, personally, it is the education side that is crucial for pupils. Ultimately, we want our pupils to be fit and healthy alongside living fulfilling lifestyles. We are not producing super athletes!
There are so many misconceptions that PE teachers are elite at most sports. I’m the first to
admit that I’m blessed with two left feet, and dancing is not my forte, or when it comes to my non-existent cricket career, I spent more time trying to smash the ball into a million pieces rather than concentrating on making contact. I wanted to write a piece where, through my experiences (a qualified Secondary PE teacher who’s transitioned into Primary), I can share some of the gems of information that was passed onto me, or I’ve developed over time.
It is the enthusiasm and passion for the subject that makes you an excellent PE practitioner. You can spend hours and hours researching perfect technique and planning detailed lessons to find out that your sports hall has been commandeered for exams or the weather has dictated an indoors lesson. Firstly, take risks! Don’t be afraid of something not working. Everyone at some stage - sports professionals, tech leaders, politicians - have all had an idea and just ran with it. If it works, fantastic; you’ve a foundation to build on, confidence will be boosted, and you’ve got your pupils eating out the palm of your hand. If it doesn’t work, you’ve tried something different and know that it doesn’t work for next time. It hasn’t had catastrophic effects! It’s an achievement in itself that you gave it a go. So many teachers will stick to tried and tested (I genuinely loved it when we did something different in PE rather than traditional games) and eventually, it will become monotonous. Don’t get stuck in a rut!
Secondly, less can be more. Again, going back to my PGCE days and the dreaded 8 page lessons plans (yes, this was just for PE!), the hours of slogging my guts out for an hour’s content when the outcome was ultimately pupils just asking “when are we going into a game ?” Don’t feel like you have to reinvent the wheel. Granted, do some research (TES, NGB’s, Youtube are solid starting points) and find new and exciting ways of delivering PE (Twitter can be amazing for this). Decide on your skill(s) that you’re delivering that lesson and think of as many fun and engaging activities to develop this. I always used to laugh and joke that my teaching file would just be collage of post it notes; there is nothing wrong with having notes to support your lesson. My background is football, put a football in front of me and I’m in my element, but when it came to athletics (especially throwing techniques) or dance (again two left feet) I’d always come home from teaching with a wad of post it notes overflowing out of every pocket. It was like a crutch when I was teaching something unfamiliar. Over time, the post it notes reduced and my confidence grew.
Last, staff support. I’ve genuinely lost count of how many times I’ve asked for reassurance or shared ideas. Remember, we’re all in this together! Going back to my PGCE studies, it was a very quiet day if someone’s USB stick wasn’t being shared for a range of ideas or sample lesson plans. Use your colleagues; they’re called colleagues for a reason! Whether you want an informal observation (I used to love just popping your head into a lesson to see how a particular skill was delivered) or just to discuss and collaborate different ways of teaching a specific skill. I could genuinely write a book on how to support the non-specialist teacher (that’s not actually a bad idea!) and I am more than happy to discuss my experiences and tips in greater detail. Please feel free to drop me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) for any support!
Thanks for reading. Now, “can we have a game now?”