One positive from Covid? Pupils arriving in PE kit

If there's one Covid restriction worth keeping in schools, it's pupils arriving dressed for PE, says Blair Minchin

Blair Minchin

Coronavirus: The benefits of pupils arriving at school already dressed for PE

No pants. Pantless. Absolutely devoid of pants.

That’s right, believe it or not, I haven’t found any pants in my classroom for the longest-ever stretch of my primary teaching career. Fifteen weeks of teaching Primary 3 and no pants discovered under a desk, in the water tray or hanging off Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in the reading corner.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: he teaches six-year-olds – how has he managed it?!

The answer: children coming to school already dressed for PE.

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If there’s one thing schools need to retain from Covid protocols, it’s this. It means that everyone returns home wearing their own shoes...well, a little more frequently than they did before.

Coronavirus: The end of PE-related clothing nightmares

Before Covid, too, many teachers had to navigate that conversation. You know the one: it’s the start of the day, you haven’t quite finished setting up the role play area, and now you’re at the classroom door with Harriet's mum, who’s enquiring as to why her daughter arrived home wearing Maisie’s fleece and Daniel's shorts.

They were dark times.

There’s been a lot of discussion about staff wellbeing this term. While debate rages around the treatment of teachers, I have to say that, personally, not having to deal with inside-out leggings has really boosted my morale and general regard towards Lycra.

I’d go even further: I think kids coming dressed for PE is having a real impact on lost learning catch-up. With the time we’re saving not searching for Ryan’s shoes that Megan likes to bury in the sand tray, we may be clawing back an extra four hours of learning every week.

Even P7 teachers are on board – these are not issues that disappear in the last year of primary school. I was speaking to colleagues who were concerned that having PE first thing on Monday would generate a sweaty odour that would linger in the classroom until Thursday. However, with the windows open, odour has not been an issue...because no one can feel their nose, let alone smell, given just how cold it is in Scotland in December.

And one final thing: I haven’t spoken to a teacher yet who has said that the lack of school uniform is negatively impacting on learning or ethos.

We might well be on to something here...

Blair Minchin is a primary teacher in Edinburgh

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Blair Minchin

Find me on Twitter @Mr_Minchin

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