20th August 2010 at 01:00
The problem - My Year 4 class is well-behaved but becomes very chatty in PE. I always have to wait to get their attention. How can I encourage quiet?

What you said

"I've got Year 6 and they're a very chatty bunch. In PE, I tend to do the same thing I do in other lessons: I count down from five and then expect them to be silent. If not, I count into negative numbers and any below zero is a minute they owe me at break."


"It's natural for a group of Year 4s to be excited so I would put up with the chatting if it's only when you're getting ready, but then demand it when you're about to begin. You could also create the expectation that at the start of the lesson they all start jogging around the courtgymfield to siphon off their unfocused energy and keep them occupied until you are ready."


"Get them started on an active task immediately, then you can bring them back after 10 minutes or so and develop it."


The expert view

Children need to be able to talk in PE to learn effectively. Silence does not ensure safety. This talk does need to be learning focused. To help achieve this:

- Transfer behaviour management strategies from the classroom into the PE space. Modify but keep consistency. This helps children understand that the lesson is still about learning and there are the same, if not higher, expectations of behaviour in PE as in other lessons.

- Have several stop signals so children understand why you want them to listen. Use a range of verbal and non-verbal signals (avoid whistles, be creative) as this engages the children in developing skills they will need in many PE activities. "Stop" is always reserved for when something dangerous or silly is happening. Clapped hands or a raised hand relates to stopping to listenwatch. Re-focus by calling out positions, skills or shapes to perform.

- Review previous learning and introduce new learning in changing time. Set tasks to be completed once the children are in the activity space.

- Never use physical activity as a punishment. Withdrawing children from lessons, other than in extreme cases, should always be a last resort. Make sure children are given opportunities to return to the activity and tasks to complete while in "time out".

- Give pupils something to chat about. If talking is about what is happening in the lesson, it becomes less linked with behaviour expectations and more with learning. Can they describe each others' movement? Can they give feedback? This gives a greater sense of purpose to the children's chatter and enhances learning.

Dom Haydn-Davies is senior lecturer in PE at Roehampton University. For more behaviour advice, go to



- Create the same level of behaviour expectations for PE as other lessons.

- Introduce signals so children know when to stop what they are doing and listen.

- Give children purposeful tasks to perform while they are waiting for the lesson to start.


- Use physical activity as a punishment.

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