Maximising pupil progress in PE

17th May 2016 at 17:17

Subject Genius, Jazz Rose, Maximising pupil progress in PE

The hypothesis:

In my 15 years’ experience of teaching in primary schools, I’ve discovered that many primary school teachers’ face similar problems when delivering PE lessons.

One cold winter’s evening, I concocted a test and conclusion to solve this issue and I’ve boiled it down to ‘3 Key PE Personalities.’ These personalities can quickly become disruptive if the appropriate action is not taken swiftly.

In this report, I briefly explain the method to help every child remain focused and engaged in their learning, thereby maximising pupil progress in every PE lesson.

‘Dis-engaged Einstein’

The observation:

The ‘dis-engaged’ pupil will often forget their PE kit and shy away from answering questions.

The test / challenge:

To ensure they become an included and valued member of the class.

The method:

Focus on fundamental skills such as agility, balance and co-ordination. Focus on giving specific praise for success achieved according to pupils’ personal goals.

E.g. “Well done [pupil name], I really like the way you extended your fingers when making the pass.”

Teachers should also encourage cognitive thinking by incorporating lots of ‘talk for learning’ strategies so that pupils’ develop confidence whilst discussing key concepts in pairs.

‘Energetic Edison’

The observation:

The ‘energetic’ pupil is constantly moving and often confuses completing a task quickly with completing a task well.

The test / challenge:

To keep them physically engaged whilst also developing their control and accuracy of movement.

The method:

Teachers need to focus on getting them moving as much as possible. Keep teacher demonstrations precise with a focus on control. Ask pupils to lead some demonstrations for the class, thereby giving pupils a sense of pride and responsibility.

Key strategy:
T.O.T.A.TTeach One Thing At a Time

Subject Genius, Jazz Rose, Maximising pupil progress in PE

‘Talented Newton’

The observation:

Talented pupils can be identified as those who complete age appropriate tasks quickly with a high degree of accuracy and precision. However, if they are not constantly challenged they can quickly become bored and thus disruptive to other pupils' learning.

The test / challenge:

To progress their skills in accordance with their ability and beyond.

The method:

Set specific challenges which combine a range of key skills. Teachers can use the S.T.E.P principle as a guide to differentiating tasks, thereby ensuring pupils are challenged appropriately to make sustained progress.

Space (Decrease / increase the performance area)
Task (Adjust the task to increase the challenge)
Equipment (Change the size / type of equipment)
People (Alter the no. of children in the group or the type of pupils in each group)

The conclusion:

Children can develop excellent life skills through PE lessons, providing each pupil is challenged and inspired by their teacher. Teachers should make incisive observations to quickly assess pupil personalities and learning styles before setting inclusive tasks where each pupil feels valued, and are given the opportunity to improve their skills at their own pace.


Jazz Rose is a PE teacher and education consultant at J and C Academy.