What is the role of the primary PE and School Sport Premium in supporting your recovery curriculum?

Our Primary PE and Achievement Lead, Emma Mackenzie-Hogg, considers how to revise your PE and School Sport Premium 2020/21 action planning to support your school’s recovery from the impacts of lockdown.

For children and young people, the impact of lockdown will be far and reaching. Our evidence paper found that during lockdown activity levels dropped, mental health concerns increased and the educational gap widened. Teachers are also starting to see first-hand the impact of lockdown as pupils return to school with a range of physical, social and emotional issues.

Issues identified by teachers as children return to school that PESSPA could help to address


a graph showing some results from youth sport trust return to PE survey


Yet lockdown did shine a spotlight on the important role of physical activity, which became a highlight for many families. Let’s maintain this spotlight and think more creatively and sustainably to use the PE and Sport Premium for the recovery of primary school pupils, staff and families in this challenging academic year.

Back when the PE and Sport Premium funding was announced, we delivered a webinar in which we touched on aligning your funding and key indicators to support your wider recovery curriculum.  Here we expand on this, sharing ideas, examples from our member schools and suggested resources and training to support your school. Key questions to ask yourself:

  • What is your intent for each key indicator?
  • How is this intent informed? (e.g. what are your pupil/staff/family data and insights telling you about the need)
  • How is it linked to the recovery process?

Key Indicator 1: The engagement of all pupils in regular physical activity – Chief Medical Officer guidelines recommend that primary school pupils undertake at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day in school

With low fitness levels and poor physical development being key issues for pupils, how you build physical activity into your school day will be fundamental to improved health and fitness, better cognition and improved concentration levels.

As a starting point, consider your school day and where the opportunities for movement are most likely e.g. active travel, playtimes, active pedagogy across the curriculum and PE lessons. Some of your approaches may not require a great level of investment, you may just need changes in routines. Other ideas might include new equipment to minimise sharing, or training playtime leaders to deliver within the normal bubble/social distancing restrictions. With PE lessons encouraged to be outdoors, one of the biggest challenges is wet weather. To draw upon the famous Scandinavian saying, ‘there's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes’, why not use your Premium to invest in waterproof clothing, boiler suits and shoe storage in school to ensure pupils and staff can embrace the outdoors for PE lessons and wider curriculum learning?


Example PE Premium reporting template from YST member school - St Fidelis showcasing how they are using the funding in line with key indicator 1.

Further support for this key indicator:

Review Active School Planner to map activity levels by class/bubble and understand where most sitting time is taking place

Upskill - Power of an active school workshop - ideal for whole staff team meetings

Improve your active pedagogy across maths and English with Teach Active training and resources

Apply - Bubble Leadership to support pupils to develop their leadership skills and maintain physical activity levels in school.

Key Indicator2: The profile of PESSPA being raised across the school as a tool for whole school improvement

With schools focused on a recovery curriculum, PE has a leading role to play in the physical, social, emotional and cognitive wellbeing of our pupils, which research tells us can impact on wider school outcomes.


Have you reviewed the intent of your PE curriculum? How connected is it to wider school priorities right now? Have you considered the physical, social, emotional and cognitive needs of your pupils and the re-mapping of your curriculum to ensure activities are purposeful and develop the personal as well as the physical skills of your young people?

PE provides an ideal context to teach the life skills most needed by your pupils right now, supporting them to apply these skills in other areas of life. For teachers to be confident and competent in this pedagogy, Premium investment needs to consider programmes, resources and training that ensure a culture change in the teaching and learning of PE that is sustainable long after the funding ceases to exist.

"COVID has encouraged a rethink and reshape of our PE curriculum. Using a restorative approach, our federation have begun implementing a recovery curriculum that reinforces the value of active healthy lifestyles. Our PE provision has increased to three compulsory hours (whole school) with two focused on PE curriculum and the additional hour dedicated to physical activity. The PE lessons are designed progressively and reshaped to provide all children ample opportunities to achieve the NC aims in all three domains (psychomotor, cognitive, and affective). This is linked directly to our updated assessment tool that uses the concept of head (thinking), hands (doing) and heart (behavioural change) with the aim to support the development of the ‘whole child’ into thinking, doing, physical beings which impact on the behavioural change to equip them for lifelong participation and improved overall health and wellbeing."

Dawn Mallett, Sport and PE Development Manager at Stanton and Pepper Hill Schools, MK

Further support for this key indicator:

Review YST Quality Mark self-review tool that allows you to benchmark your provision and action plan across PESSPA and whole school priorities

Upskill - My Personal Best resource and whole staff training, with a focus on delivering a life skilled approach to teaching and learning in PE

Apply - Curriculum Mapping Guide provides a framework to revise your intent, implementation and impact of PE


Key Indicator 3: Increased confidence, knowledge and skills of all staff in teaching PE and sport

Teaching PE in the current climate allows you to understand what your pupils may be experiencing and provides a platform to start to build strong teacher-pupil relationships. For pupils, it provides a natural environment to express themselves, communicate, socially reconnect, empathise and self-regulate.

Consider surveying your staff through a Covid lens to understand their confidence levels and training needs to deliver high quality PE. What are the challenges, what is their fear around teaching PE under the social distancing restrictions, how do they envisage high quality PE being retained?

Linked to key indicator 2, is this an opportunity to challenge their perceptions of what PE is, providing more holistic training that considers the development of the whole child? PE specialists and external companies can provide expertise in the physical skill development, but remember the class teacher knows their pupils best so ensure these two professionals work side-by-side.  

Further support for this key indicator:

Review – YST Quality Mark to benchmark staff confidence within wider context of PESSPA review.

Upskill - Primary Generalist two hour virtual training, delivered by your local YST development manager as part of a whole staff meeting or inset day. Contact [email protected] to find out more.

Apply -  Top Start and Top PE to build practitioner confidence and competence in teaching high quality PE, with a focus on the specific units of the National Curriculum for PE.

Published on 2 October 2020