The University of Bedfordshire and Virgin Active have created a new way to approach Physical Education that will help all children embrace physical activity.
The Playmakers programme (download full copy of the report) has been created after working with 30 primary schools and 7,500 pupils across the UK over the course of a year. It shows how an approach based on physical literacy, rather than on traditional PE, is more effective in getting children active.
Rather than delivering traditional PE lessons that focus on winning, losing and sporting prowess, the pilot programme used teaching methods that encouraged pupils to harness their imaginations to learn fundamental movement skills and co-create their own PE games.
The lesson plans tested in schools over the past year include getting children to design dances based on animal movements and adventure circuits where they agree how to tackle obstacles whilst in character.
These free lesson plans are publicly available for all teachers to use here.
Dr Helen Ives, Senior Lecturer and Course Coordinator Sport and Physical Education at the University and Principal Investigator said: “This has been a great initiative to be involved in with Virgin Active. The University is a leading trainer of physical education teachers in the country and it has been a privilege to put our academic expertise into practice.
“We have been able to put together a programme that not only ensures teachers will have the tools necessary to teach PE but hopefully will also help primary age students develop a love of physical activity which will stay with them for the rest of their lives.”
The findings come at a time when more than a third (39%) of children dislike being physically active when they leave primary school. Meanwhile, the government is calling for schools to devote more time than ever to physical activity, as part of the Childhood Obesity Plan. In the 2017/18 academic year, primary schools will be required to deliver 30 minutes of exercise within the school day.
Yet many primary teachers lack the confidence to meet this mandate, equipped with as little as six hours of physical education training in their entire teacher-training programme.
The influence of teachers cannot be underestimated, with new data revealing 38% of children aged 8 to 15 believe their PE teacher inspires them to do more physical activity, above sporting athletes and celebrities.
Robert B. Cook, UK Managing Director at Virgin Active, said: “The results of our programme show what is possible when teachers are given the tools to facilitate new ways of teaching PE. The Government has set the 30 minute challenge, but this can only be realised if we work together. Harnessing the imagination of kids and getting them moving is something we do in our clubs every day. By applying this in the school environment and transforming PE lessons into fun and entertaining games, we can ensure future generations love being active and help turn the tide against rising levels of obesity.”
The Active Inspiration Playmakers programme shows:
Dr Ives continued: "The collaboration has been a successful one, more so for the pupils who are now enjoying being active. It was especially pleasing to see that teacher motivation and confidence improved and they now view themselves as facilitating learning within the subject"
Emma Wilson, a primary school teacher who took part in the programme said: “I don’t have a great background in sports. When I first started teaching PE I wasn’t confident because I wasn’t really sure what I had to do. But now, Playmakers has given me a lot of ideas on different ways to get the children involved in PE and to encourage them to take ownership of their own physical activity. Their attention span in class is also much better and it’s become rare that I encounter bad behaviour anymore.”
All teachers who participated in the Active Inspiration Playmakers programme have the opportunity to gain a recognised Continuous Professional Development qualification - studying at Master's level, accessing credit bearing units. Teachers will be supported to continue their studies on the MA Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy.
During office hours
+44 (0)1234 400 400
Outside office hours
+44 (0)1582 74 39 89
University of Bedfordshire
UK, LU1 3JU