BLOG: Ten top tips for teaching primary PE

Youth Sport Trust partner Complete PE has shared its ten top tips for teaching PE in primary schools.
A school sport day race. The young boy in first place is grinning with his eyes closed.

For this blog, Catherine Fitzpatrick, Director at Complete P.E., shares her ten top tips for teaching PE:

  1. Start your lessons with, “Show Me What You Know.” This sets up your diagnostic assessment at the start of the lesson and gets children active straight away instead of lengthy questioning.
  2. Ask pupils to answer questions physically. When asking pupils questions, if possible get them to show you the answer, for example,  “How do you think you pass accurately using a chest pass?” Showing the answers promotes higher levels of activity!
  3. Think about who needs to see a demonstration. Use demonstrations to support learning but always consider which learners need to see it. We should not just demonstrate to everyone unless they all need to see it. Use your demonstrations as a powerful tool to support the learning when intervention is necessary.
  4. Don’t plan times in your PE lessons. Learning takes however long it needs to take to be understood and achieved. Plan in sequence and move on to the next part of the sequence when the pupils are ready.
  5. Take time to read through the sequence of learning (unit) before you start teaching. This will enable you to know where learning is going and how to support the specific needs of your pupils every step of the way.
  6. Consider what the purpose of your lesson is. Is it clear to the pupils in your class? High quality PE lessons have a clear purpose that runs throughout the learning. You can then focus your questioning, feedback and assessment in line with the purpose of the lesson.
  7. Use ‘why’ questions - they are very powerful and can drive high quality learning outcomes. Embedding ‘why’ questions into PE lessons can help learning to accelerate, as pupils understand what they are doing and the purpose of it.
  8. Give specific and purposeful feedback. This scaffolds the next steps and reiterates the success outcomes of your lesson. Praise is essential, but adding in the detail makes a huge impact on learning.
  9. Ensure all your PE lessons have physical, cognitive, social and emotional success outcomes. These are essential to ensure the development of the whole child and to enable mastery learning. Take time to then focus on the development of life skills specific to the needs of your pupils. For example, if they often give up, take time to go off plan and teach and develop life skills such as resilience.
  10. Assess how active your pupils are in your lessons. One way of doing this is to actually time yourself. Every time the class is static, start a stop watch. Pause it when the pupils move again. Ask yourself at the end of the lesson whether they were active enough.

Complete P.E. is an interactive primary Physical Education resource, written by Primary School PE Specialist Teachers (QTS), designed to support the implementation of a high quality Physical Education curriculum.

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