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A Summary of Ofsted's PE Subject Report: Levelling the Playing Field

On the 20th September 2023, Ofsted released a review of PE education in England. The review is formed from inspection findings from 25 primary and 25 secondary schools and it uses Ofsted's PE research review (click here for the summary) to evaluate common features of PE. Whilst it's important to read the report in full, I've made a summary as an aide-memoire which will hopefully save people some time in making their own.


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Main Findings

  • Most primary schools teach PE for 2 hours per week.

  • Around half of secondary schools teach PE for 2 hours per week for both key stages.

  • Few schools have clearly defined the broad and overarching aims of their curriculum and developed a clear progression with broken down component knowledge of what pupils needs to learn.

  • Stronger curriculums prioritise the most appropriate physical activities and sports to teach. These enable pupils to learn crucial subject-specific knowledge which enables them to meet the clearly-defined, ambitious curriculum outcomes.

  • In around half of primary schools, Reception children are well supported by adults to quickly develop safe, efficient and effective movement.

  • Most verbal explanations given by staff are clear and precise with subject-specific vocabulary and questions used to check understanding being used effectively in most schools.

  • Where areas of the curriculum are taught clearly and where key content is revisited, pupils' verbal recall is often strong.

  • In around half of schools, pupils with SEND are supported to achieve well. This is due to clearly defined curriculum end points, well-trained staff, and clear, specific and actionable information which supports staff in meeting pupils' needs.

  • Many pupils have a broad understanding of health and the social and mental health benefits associated with participating in physical activity.

  • PE assessment is well-designed in a. small number of schools.

  • All secondary schools teach PE or sport-related qualifications at KS4 and KS5. In these schools, the exam specification informs the curriculum, and the knowledge is detailed clearly and precisely.

  • Planning and teaching of PE qualifications is stronger than the teaching of compulsory PE at KS4: teachers give high-quality explanations with relevant real-life examples.

  • Many curriculums lack coherence because they lack clarity over what is to be taught. In addition, sequencing is not always well considered. Many schools provide significant breadth in providing experiences of different sports, but their curriculums can lack clarity as a consequence.

  • The average time learning about a 'topic' in PE is 5 hours per year. For many pupils, this is insufficient time to build knowledge and develop relative fluency.

  • Many schools do not meet the requirements of the National Curriculum: dance is not taught, or is not well organised, in two thirds of schools; in three quarters of schools, outdoor adventurous activities (OAA) are not taught effectively, if at all.

  • In primary schools, attainment in pupils' swimming and water safety is mixed. The challenges of provision can limit schools' ability to successfully evaluate the curriculum, and the sports premium is not always used effectively where needed.

  • Most pupils actively participate in lessons though the quality of this activity varies.

  • Practice is weaker where pupils lack the foundational knowledge needed for the next stage of the curriculum or to participate meaningfully in competitive elements of PE lessons.

  • Significant gaps in motor competences are not always identified and addressed quickly enough in many primary schools - particularly the fundamental movement skills.

  • A small number of pupils routinely miss PE due to interventions.

  • In most secondary schools, compulsory PE at KS4 often lacks rigour, balance and depth, rarely matching the ambition of the NC.

  • Some schools have a strategic approach to developing staff subject knowledge.

  • In both primary and secondary schools, extra-curricular provision is broad and ambitious.

  • Over half of schools do not monitor attendance of extra-curricular clubs and activities which make it unclear whether schools' programmes are inclusive for all.


Discussion of the Findings

  • The role of Physical Education (PE) in fostering competence and confidence in physical activity and sports is crucial, particularly as not all students will engage in such activities beyond PE classes.

  • Schools must strategically use PE lessons to impart essential knowledge for informed decisions regarding a healthy, active lifestyle.

  • Some schools excel in offering a high-quality PE curriculum, aligning with national standards, breaking down curriculum goals into vital knowledge, and prioritizing specific sports and activities.

  • In contrast, many schools fall short, with curriculums either lacking depth or neglecting specific activities mandated by the NC, leading to varying pupil proficiencies.

  • Inconsistencies in teaching swimming, water safety, and assessment of the primary NC create challenges, with access and costs being limiting factors for some schools.

  • Pedagogical approaches are often mismatched with students' prior learning, limiting their confidence and competence.

  • Adaptations to address misconceptions and gaps in knowledge are insufficient, and pupils lack secure foundational knowledge. This affects pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), as they may not receive precise support.

  • Efficient movement teaching is more successful in some primary schools, with explicit teaching and assessment of Fundamental Movement Skills (FMS) guiding pupils' learning.

  • Assessment practices vary, with stronger assessments aligned with curriculum goals and used for revisiting and reinforcing key concepts. However, weaker assessments often fail to align with the curriculum, leading to inadequate evaluation.

  • Extracurricular activities complement PE in many schools, providing a broader experience, but the inclusivity of such activities is often not adequately monitored.


Recommendations

For Schools


  • Align the curriculum with the national curriculum's breadth and ambition, ensuring that it includes structured swimming and water safety lessons in primary schools, as well as outdoor adventurous activities (OAA) and dance in both primary and secondary schools.

  • Define essential knowledge that all pupils must be taught, enabling teachers to plan, select pedagogical approaches, and assess effectively.

  • Select appropriate physical activities and sports to help pupils achieve curriculum goals. Sequence these activities coherently within and across key stages.

  • Focus PE lessons on developing competence by allowing pupils to practise, refine, and revisit previous content before introducing new or complex knowledge. This may involve reducing the number of physical activities covered in the curriculum.

  • Provide effective support for pupils with SEND to ensure they can access and excel in an ambitious curriculum.

  • Ensure that staff are well-trained to offer precise support to pupils with SEND.

  • Regularly check pupils' understanding, address gaps in knowledge, and correct misconceptions, including revisiting previously taught but inadequately learned content to prevent knowledge gaps from widening.

  • Offer opportunities for all pupils to learn and refine Fundamental Movement Skills (FMS) from an early age to prepare them for competitions and tasks requiring the synthesis of various knowledge.

  • Ensure that assessments align with the important and precise knowledge outlined in the curriculum. Use assessment data to inform teaching in the short, medium, and long term.

  • Focus departmental monitoring and evaluation on the quality of pupils' knowledge and skills in PE.


For Wider Policy Leaders


  • Support schools to make evidence-informed decisions which focus on improving staff competence and helping more pupils make progress in PE.

  • Consider how schools can best use funding to improve swimming and water safety outcomes for all pupils in primary schools.

  • Support schools to provide professional development opportunities which are informed meaningfully by school leaders' evaluations of pupils' attainment.

  • Support schools with their extra-curricular programmes to add depth to timetabled PE sessions and extend pupils' knowledge and understanding.


PRIMARY


Curriculum

  • Most primary schools meet the recommendation of 2 hours of timetabled PE per week.

  • Schools are not prescribed a specific amount of time for PE by Ofsted, but the Association for Physical Education (AfPE) recommends 2 hours of PE per week.

  • Many primary schools have a general vision for PE but lack clear curriculum design to achieve their ambitions.

  • More specific aims for the curriculum result in better planning, teaching, and assessment.

  • Most schools use commercial PE schemes, but such schemes often lack clear and incremental knowledge building.

  • Curriculum decisions sometimes rely on staff members' knowledge rather than explicit expectations provided by leaders.

  • There is a lack of clarity, in around a third of schools, about how to teach running, jumping and throwing: this impacts pupils' foundational knowledge.

  • Many schools match the breadth and ambition of the national curriculum.

  • Activities are often chosen based on the agreed body of knowledge for KS1 and KS2.

  • Some curriculums lack coherence and are planned around specific activities rather than incremental knowledge building.

  • Where teaching time is limited, this hinders knowledge development and fluency.

  • On average, schools spend 5 hours per year on one topic or activity and their curriculums include 10 different sports/activities each year.

  • The location and availability of swimming facilities vary, affecting curriculum time.

  • In around a half of schools, leaders do not have a clear oversight of what is taught in swimming.

  • Some schools use the PE and sport premium to provide additional swimming lessons.

  • Some curriculums are unbalanced: opportunities for dance and OAA can be limited because of staff lacking competence and confidence.

  • Only in a fifth of schools can pupils recall dance-related declarative knowledge.

  • Many schools teach PE through one weekly indoor and one weekly outdoor session.

  • Some schools have well-defined plans for what to teach in Reception based on children's abilities and progress.

  • Clear guidance is often available to staff to make effective decisions on teaching methods and assessments.

  • In certain schools, more significant objectives lack detailed breakdowns and clear outcomes, especially for activities which should develop gross motor skills. Some children in these schools struggle due to a lack of clear and consistent instructions, practice opportunities, and feedback.

  • Schools with better development and refinement of Fundamental Movement Skills (FMS) provide staff with clear examples of activities and key vocabulary for teaching efficient FMS. These schools offer structured opportunities and play to revisit and enhance FMS knowledge.

  • Reception-age children are taught foundational knowledge, particularly those requiring additional support, to prepare them for future education.

  • An example highlights teaching jumping, emphasizing key commonalities and essential knowledge.

  • Clear teaching points and success criteria help staff provide targeted support.

  • Visual aids contribute to consistent language and high-quality models across staff.

  • In stronger curriculums, there is a significant focus on supporting children with knowledge gaps during planned sessions and other points in the timetable.

  • Schools commonly consider what children are taught in Reception and link this to what they are taught in KS1.

  • In nearly all schools, all pupils have access to the same curriculum and are taught through the same range of physical activities and sports.

  • The content of what to be taught in KS1 and KS2 has not been precisely set out in a very small number of schools, with staff free to choose sports and physical activities. These decisions are often not reviewed. An unintended consequence of this approach is that pupils in different classes are not taught the same knowledge, with groups having varying experiences of the subject.

  • The importance of ambition for all, including pupils with SEND, is believed by all school staff. Some curriculums do not always make it clear what is the most important knowledge for pupils with SEND to know and be able to do.

  • In around a half of schools, some PE content (especially Dance) is linked to wider curriculum themes. This can often mean that the PE-specific knowledge is not clear and not prioritised.

  • A minority of schools have thoughtfully adapted their curriculums to take account of what pupils have missed as a consequence of the pandemic.

  • Approximately 50% of schools have considered teaching students how to participate in physical activity and sport in a healthy manner, covering topics such as exercise preparation, recovery, hydration, and rest. These schools focus on the physical, mental, and social aspects of health and well-being within the PE curriculum. Knowledge in these schools is carefully sequenced, drawing connections and comparisons between various activities in the curriculum. These schools enable students to confidently explain both similarities and differences between various activities.

  • Additionally, some schools establish links between PE, PSHE (Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education), and science to teach students important and age-appropriate knowledge about leading a healthy, active life. Staff make purposeful connections between PE and safety-specific elements of PSHE, emphasizing the importance of rules and responsible risk-taking.

Impact


  • In some schools, the vision for PE is not translating into secure and consistent practice, resulting in considerable unevenness in pupils' knowledge and abilities in PE.

  • Many pupils across key stages 1 and 2 are not secure in FMS, as these skills are not explicitly and consistently targeted in lessons.

  • Inadequate refinement of FMS limits opportunities for pupils to learn more complex PE knowledge, hindering their achievement of intended curriculum outcomes by the end of primary school.

  • By the end of Year 6, 63% of pupils can swim at least 25 meters, and 72% can perform safe self-rescue.

  • Lack of time, access to swimming pools, and high-quality teaching affect this curriculum element.

  • Factors like affluence and ethnicity influence whether pupils achieve these outcomes, and few schools use additional funding to help such pupils to surmount these barriers, and to support weaker swimmers.

  • Outcomes for pupils with SEND vary within and between schools.

  • Effective support and monitoring are evident in some schools, with tailored strategies developed by staff and SENDCo.

  • Adaptations for pupils with SEND might involve specialised equipment.

  • Pupils' verbal recall of PE lessons is inconsistent between schools and between curriculum outcomes. Pupils excel in recalling rules, strategies, and tactics for invasion games, which are given more time in the curriculum. Knowledge of rules, strategies, and tactics for other activities is limited, impacting their participation.

  • In very few schools, where pupils have a broad and balanced recall, the curriculum matches the ambition of the NC.

  • Most pupils understand and discuss various social and mental health benefits associated with physical activity. They can provide examples of how participation in physical activity improves fitness and strengthens the heart.

  • In some schools, time allocated for PE is sacrificed for additional interventions or to support pupils catching up with missed teaching in other subjects.

  • This might include missing PE to support reading, although it is not a deliberate decision to do so.

Pedagogy

  • In all schools, what is being taught matches the curriculum,.

  • In some schools, the most appropriate pedagogical approaches to teach the curriculum are not always used.

  • Teaching is sometimes based on what pupils have been taught rather than what they have demonstrated they have learned. Pupils' knowledge and competencies are not always checked before moving on in the curriculum.

  • Time in some Reception classes is not always sufficient for pupils to receive high-quality instruction, practice and feedback. Many schools give children opportunities to be physically active but it is less clear how low-attaining children have opportunities to receive the explicit teaching they need to improve the quality of their movement.

  • Reception pupils in some schools are only taught and are able to practise movements when they self-select. This can mean that some children do not have enough experience of the things they need more practice with.

  • In schools with effective physical development teaching, staff meticulously plan explanations and demonstrations of various movements and patterns based on pupils' demonstrated abilities. They design play-based and targeted activities to allow all pupils to practice and receive constructive feedback to enhance their movement skills. Knowledgeable staff assist children in recognizing similarities and differences in various contexts and teach them to name and describe their movements using specific vocabulary.

  • In many KS1 and KS2 lessons, pupils are well-supported to use accurate declarative knowledge. Staff frequently model key vocabulary when describing, explaining and giving feedback; they encourage pupils to use the same ambitious vocabulary.

  • Many schools consider verbal recall to be important for checking what pupils know.

  • In nearly two thirds of schools, staff use clear and precise demonstrations to give pupils a mental image of what they need to know and do, with checking during and afterwards that pupils show good understanding.

  • In about a half of schools, pupils have purposeful practice time. This is because:

    • Staff ensure that pupils possess the necessary knowledge and motor skills to succeed in independent or group practice.

    • Clear teaching points and success criteria are communicated, providing pupils with precise guidance, and timely reminders are given during practice to prevent misconceptions from taking hold.

    • Pupils have ample time for practice, enabling them to build their knowledge before progressing to more advanced content or applying it in competitive settings. Minimal time is wasted on non-learning activities like waiting in queues.

    • Staff are quick to adapt practice activities in response to identified misconceptions or knowledge gaps. They ensure that practice activities remain appropriately challenging, gradually reducing support as pupils demonstrate success and increasing task complexity. This adaptability minimises the risk of pupils embedding misconceptions.

  • The tasks assigned to pupils may not be designed to enhance the quality of their participation.

  • Many lessons include elements where pupils are expected to think or move creatively, which some pupils lack sufficient knowledge to do.

  • Staff are committed to providing equal opportunities for all pupils to develop competence in PE, regardless of their starting points.

  • Some strategies for supporting pupils with cognition and learning needs lack specificity, making it challenging for PE staff to provide appropriate support. Lack of support leads to difficulties for some pupils with SEND in PE.

  • Pupils with SEND who receive better support have activities modified as needed, allowing them to participate effectively.

  • In just under half of the schools, available information for supporting pupils with SEND is either not used, unclear, or not well-understood by staff.

Competition
  • In many schools, competition in physical education lacks a clear purpose.

  • Pupils who struggled with previous tasks often cannot participate fully in subsequent competitions, leading to frustration and disengagement.

  • Lessons that carefully consider competition adapt activities to offer lower-attaining pupils fewer features to focus on.

  • As lower-attaining pupils become more successful, staff gradually remove adaptations to align the activity with the full competition.

  • An example lesson on passing in netball involved various competitive groups with specific aims and clear feedback from the teacher.

  • Pupils were moved between teams and games, ensuring all pupils practiced what they had learned and developed their competence.

  • In certain schools, TAs play a role in PE lessons. Many TAs possess in-depth knowledge about the pupils they assist and effectively support their learning.

  • Weaker provision is evident when TAs lack specific guidance related to the subject, leading to a disconnect between the school's ambitious goals and practical implementation.


Assessment

  • Pupils often receive feedback that is unclear in terms of what they need to do next, or the feedback suggests actions that are currently beyond their motor capabilities. For instance, in a small-sided game of football, pupils may be encouraged to find space for passing, even if they are not yet capable of passing the ball successfully over the required distance.

  • Various assessment systems and approaches are evident across the schools.

  • However, very few of these assessments align with the taught curriculum or assess the precise knowledge required for pupils to enhance their competence.

  • In schools with weaker practice:

    • Assessments lack clear expectations regarding what pupils should know and instead focus on broad 'I can' statements.

    • Declarative and procedural knowledge essential for building competence are often not identified, leading to inconsistent criteria for assessing pupils' progress.

    • Assessment prioritizes pupils' enjoyment and effort in PE over providing specific feedback on learning and improvement.

    • Information gathered through assessment is not effectively used to inform subsequent teaching.

    • Staff do not consistently address misconceptions or knowledge gaps, resulting in an insufficient foundation for more advanced content.


School Systems and Policies

  • Despite PE being reported by most leaders as a highly valued subject, there is sometimes a disconnect between this ascribed value and the actions taken to communicate and reinforce it throughout schools.

  • A common complaint by staff is that a lack of equipment and facilities is a barrier to improving PE.

  • 21 out of 25 schools meet the Association for Physical Education's recommendation of teaching PE for 2 hours per week. Not all schools spend this time on high-quality instruction, practice and feedback.

  • Just over a third of schools review the curriculum regularly and rigorously.

  • Curriculum review is in some schools mainly done through visiting lessons and observing what staff are doing rather than what pupils are learning.

  • Staff who teach PE have varying levels of subject knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge. Many staff value the support of the subject leader.

  • In many cases, self-report surveys and conversations with subject leaders are the main ay that schools identify staff competence and confidence. Such approaches do not always obtain the detail needed to provide targeted support.

  • Some staff are well-supported to meet the needs of pupils with SEND.

  • Subject leaders and staff have PE-specific CPD available but it is often limited and irregular.

  • PE is taught by unqualified teachers (including HLTAs and external sports coaches) in just over a third of schools. There is a noticeable difference in the understanding of inclusion between trained and unqualified teachers.

  • Many ECTs have a clear and accurate self-evaluation of their ability to teach PE effectively.

  • Some pupils are provided with a range of meaningful PE-related leadership opportunities, such as pupil-elected sports councils.


SECONDARY


Curriculum

  • Ofsted does not set out how much time should be allocated to teaching PE each week, although 2 hours is suggested by both the AfPE and the government. Around half of secondary schools meet this requirement at KS3 and KS4.

  • Some schools use information about what pupils have retained from primary to inform their curriculum; others, around three quarters of schools, do not identify starting points. This can lead to some pupils struggling due to having gaps in their knowledge.

  • Many schools describe their vision for PE in terms of developing a love of sport and enabling pupils to participate beyond school. In some schools, there is a lack of a clear and shared understanding of the knowledge which pupils need to learn in order to achieve these outcomes.

  • In schools with more specific curriculum goals, it is clear how the curriculum has been designed to meet them. Clarity and specificity help.

  • In most schools, leaders have thought about the declarative and procedural knowledge to teach pupils in supporting them to live healthy, active lives. Some schools teach about healthy participation including knowledge about the short- and long-term impact of exercise.

  • Some schools make clear and appropriate links to science, PSHE and DT (cooking and nutrition elements) in teaching about healthy, active lifestyles.

  • In a few schools, sports and physical activities have been chosen in order to achieve the clearly defined end points, with teaching being sequenced to ensure that knowledge developed in complexity over time.

  • Many schools have based their decisions on which sports to teach based on extracurricular competitions; this can lead to some sports and physical activities not being the most appropriate for teaching the intended knowledge.

  • Some schools are following a trust-wide curriculum but many have designed their own curriculum,

  • Many pupils with SEND are taught the same curriculum with support and adaptation in lessons.

  • In schools where boys and girls are taught separately, occasional differences in sequencing do not have a negative impact on what they learn.

  • Not all schools' curriculums match the ambition of the NC: dance is not taught in over a third of schools, and in over half of schools, OAA is not being taught either at all or to all pupils.

  • Most schools' curriculums are unbalanced: they are commonly dominated by invasion games with other areas given significantly less curriculum time.

  • Many schools have worked hard to build a broad curriculum with many sports being featured. However, this can sometimes lead to pupils being moved on to new topics without having secured important foundational knowledge. This is due to curriculums being designed around sports and experiences, rather than what pupils should know and be able to do.

  • The average number of sports and physical activities that pupils encounter per year is 10.

  • It is quite rare for links between different sports and activities being made so that pupils have opportunities to revisit and refine important knowledge.

  • In many schools, declarative knowledge is well-defined, linked to procedural knowledge, and students have explicit opportunities to reinforce both types of knowledge across various activities, with particular attention to teaching essential rules, strategies, and tactics for successful participation. This can include mapping important vocabulary, too.

  • There is considerable variation between schools in the quality of compulsory KS4 curriculums. There is not always a clear specification of curriculum outcomes and thus the component knowledge which pupils need to be taught.

  • Nearly all schools allow pupils to have some choice about what to do in the KS4 curriculum but these choices do not always match the ambition of the NC.

  • The curriculums for qualification-based PE are stronger than for compulsory PE: they clearly set out and sequence the knowledge pupils need to learn as well as provide opportunities for pupils to revisit and secure what they have learned.

Impact

  • The vision for PE is not always being implemented consistently across many schools.

  • Outcomes for pupils with SEND are variable. In schools where pupils with SEND enjoy better outcomes, staff tailor support to pupils' needs and help them learn the content being taught.

  • In a few schools, not all pupils are taught a broad and ambitious curriculum. This can affect pupils' perceptions of the nature of PE.

  • Although not a deliberate leadership decision, some pupils miss their compulsory lessons due to having additional support and interventions for other subjects. This often creates significant gaps and misconceptions.

  • There is some variation in the quality of pupil participation. Some pupils lack the knowledge they need to participate. This can lead to pupils considering PE only to be good if "you are sporty". Many pupils who lack proficiency are moved through the curriculum without securing the important knowledge they need.

  • In most schools, pupils are confident in discussing their declarative knowledge, using clear and accurate terminology.

  • In a few schools, pupils are confident in discussing important conventions from activities other than invasion games.

  • Pupils have differing perceptions of PE. Some report the enjoyment of a break from learning and being with friends, making it unclear whether they value the subject and its purpose.

  • There is also variation in pupils' understanding of what it means to be 'good at PE'. Many report 'being athletic' and or 'being a team player'. It appears their understanding of developing competence in PE is limited.

  • Many pupils have a clear and detailed understanding of the importance of social and mental health.

  • For those who study a sports qualification at KS4 and KS5, many pupils benefit from a clearly organised curriculum with regular checks of their knowledge. These pupils remember the content being taught, use subject-specific terminology, and can provide examples to show the depth of their knowledge.

Pedagogy

  • In most schools, high ambitions for pupils are not always translated into consistently high-quality lessons. Often, low attainers are not well supported.

  • PE is taught by subject specialists in all of the sample schools. Subject specialists tend to have strong subject knowledge: they give clear and precise explanations, using ambitious vocabulary.

  • Questioning is often very effective in many lessons. They allow teachers to identify misconceptions across the three forms of knowledge (motor competencies; rules, strategies and tactics; and healthy participation).

  • In about 50% of schools, pupils benefit from high-quality and timely physical demonstrations which give pupils a clear mental model of what they need to do. These are often more successful when teachers break them down into smaller, manageable segments when required.

  • In some schools, what pupils need to do to be successful is not always clearly communicated or understood by all pupils. Some lower-attaining pupils would benefit from more frequent demonstrations.

  • In just under half of schools, there is purposeful practice time for all pupils. It was purposeful because:

    • Pupils are expected to give their best effort in physical education.

    • Teachers maintain high expectations for all students to actively participate and exert the necessary effort.

    • Teachers set and model clear expectations regarding the quality of pupils' movements, offering feedback to help enhance their performance.

    • Teachers ensure that students possess the required knowledge and motor competencies for successful participation in practice activities.

    • Practice activities are designed with a sharp focus on the most crucial knowledge to be acquired, often providing visual and verbal cues for improved learning.

    • Additional support and appropriate adaptations are swiftly provided to pupils who need extra assistance. The STEP framework is used to make such appropriate adaptations.

    • Pupils are granted ample time to develop their knowledge before progressing to more advanced content or competitive situations.

    • This approach aids in preserving the quality of students' movements while allowing them to concentrate on essential content components.

  • In two thirds of schools, many pupils do not have sufficient knowledge to fully participate in the competitive activities seen during lesson visits.

  • In around a half of schools, pupils with SEND are well-supported to make progress through the curriculum.

Assessment

  • In many lessons, teachers' feedback does not help pupils to know more and do more. This mainly happens because:

    • verbal or written feedback is not always actionable as it lacks clarity for what they need to do.

    • verbal or written feedback is not always manageable because pupils lack the knowledge of how to achieve what is being set.

  • Technology is used effectively in a few schools to provide incisive feedback and to help pupils learn.

  • Common weaknesses in assessment include:

    • In some schools, key declarative and procedural knowledge essential for meeting assessment objectives is not clearly defined, leading to differences in what is assessed across classes, impacting assessment accuracy and reliability.

    • Assessment in certain schools focuses on broad skills rather than verifying the security of pupils' underlying knowledge, resulting in imprecise information used to inform subsequent teaching.

    • The chosen assessment methods sometimes fail to match the context, such as small-sided games assessing knowledge beyond what has been taught in some schools.

  • More effective examples of assessment include:

    • A specific school meticulously plans its athletics curriculum, prioritizing this discipline each year to provide opportunities for pupils to enhance their throwing, jumping, and running techniques while addressing various fitness components like speed, strength, and stamina.

    • Year by year, specific techniques are revisited and refined, with a focus on essential knowledge. Assessment methods include declarative knowledge checks through quizzes, Q&A sessions, and peer evaluations, along with observations for procedural knowledge.

    • Not every aspect of the curriculum is assessed, as the PE department agrees on what is crucial for students to learn and practice in each athletics unit, promoting consistency in teachers' assessment interpretations through shared examples in department meetings.

  • in most qualification lessons, assessment often meaningfully informs teaching.

School Systems and Policies

  • School-wide actions need to be taken to make sure pupils benefit from a clear, coherent and highly effective PE curriculum. Subject and school leadership play an important role in enabling these actions to take place.

  • In most schools, a wide range of subject-specific professional development is available to all PE teachers.

  • In just under half of schools, pupils with SEND are not well supported to achieve in PE.

  • Provision for pupils with SEND is stronger when:

    • Staff receive bespoke CPD.

    • Information on supporting pupils is precise and up to date.

    • Pupils with SEND are taught in smaller and more focused groups, being supported by knowledgeable staff who support them to achieve ambitious goals.

  • In some schools, the curriculum is not regularly or rigorously evaluated. In these schools:

    • lesson visits focus often on what is being taught, not on the quality of what pupils know and can do.

    • the curriculum does not match the ambitions of the NC.

    • some pupils are withdrawn from PE due to needing to attend planned interventions.

  • In some schools, school-wide assessment policies and procedures have a negative impact on PE. Often, these approaches do not provide the flexibility teachers need to check how pupils are developing competence. Often, assessment is more effective for PE- and sports-related qualifications.

  • All schools offer a range of extracurricular sports and physical activities, with most clubs not required a fee to attend. Schools usually pay for disadvantaged pupils when a fee is involved.

  • In just over half of schools, pupils' attendance of extracurricular activities is not monitored.

 


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