Recently my friend ‘had Ofsted’, and the usual stress ensued at her school.  My friend is a good teacher, in fact, a great teacher, and her school know it.  Listening to her talk about the stresses and strains of the event I was left to question what makes a great teacher.

I regularly speak with this friend about her classroom experiences. I enjoy hearing the developments, the successes, failures and everything in-between of her pupils.  But what makes her a great teacher is what she considers to be a success, and how she goes about drawing out this success in her pupils.

Listening empowers you as a teacher

She listens and listens deeply.  She’s never told me this, and I’ve never seen her teach, but I know it’s what she does.  I can tell because she knows exactly how to support the pupils to progress.  She can tell you all about what her children do in and out of school and the things they enjoy and are worried about.  This helps her teach excellent lessons.

Listening is a skill

Ever been with a friend for a coffee and left thinking, gosh all I did was talk about myself?  I’ve done it.  It’s a horrible feeling and makes you feel a bad friend and a little bit selfish.  The same thing is true in teaching, even though we have the best intentions.  We spend a lot of time talking and very little time listening.   We expect the children to do all the listening and then regurgitate the past hour on to paper or through demonstration.

Stop, Look, Listen

To listen we need to ask questions.  We need to create space to watch pupils on task to listen to their concerns or help them to solve their problems through trial and error.

PE is an outstanding opportunity to develop your listening skills as a teacher.  PE and after-school clubs can help you increase your observation of the pupils;

The simple stuff.  But it takes practice, maybe start with listening to your friend or colleague over that coffee, I know I shall!



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In January the BBC launched their latest offering to schools.  With the help of teachers, BBC Super movers is designed to get school children more active.  Super movers has teamed up with the Premier League to inspire children across the country.

The BBC are undertaking this project as part of their Royal Charter.

To support learning for people of all ages; accessible, engaging, inspiring and challenging.

The BBC should provide specialist educational content to help support learning for children and teenagers across the United Kingdom.

It should encourage people to explore new subjects through partnerships with educational, sporting and cultural institutions… BBC Royal Charter 2017

Activity levels falling – Can BBC super movers help?

The Government recommends that children should be getting 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity each day.  However, activity rates in children have fallen dramatically in the last 40 years.  Research suggests that activity is set to reduce further still.  A frightening 15% more by 2030.

Development of Super movers

The BBC hope to play their part in reversing the rise of inactivity. Physical activity helps shape young minds as well as developing self-confidence and self-esteem.  The Super movers videos enable teachers to bring activity to their classrooms and at the same time cover key numeracy and literacy topics.

Characters such as ‘Moon Bean’ will teach children their times table through catchy songs. The videos also contain simple dance steps and are fun to use in the classroom but are also suitable for teachers to set as active homework!  Topics covered at key stage 1 include times tables, reading out loud and fractions.  For key stage 2 BBC Super Movers looks at algebra, money handling and word families.

The BBC will also be rolling out an ‘at home’ series for families to get involved.  It is rumoured to include some of our favourite strictly come dancing stars!  Watch this space.

Have you started using BBC Super Movers yet?  If so how are you getting on?  Does it work for your school or family?

Ready to take your school’s PE to the next level?  Sign up now using coupon code SUP5and receive 5% off your chosen subscription package!

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In the second part of our two part blog on initial teacher training and PE, we look at some simple steps to ensure you have everything you need to make a success of teaching PE in your early career, regardless of your previous training.  We look at

Contact your PE coordinator

Every primary school will have a PE coordinator and they should be your first point of contact.  Your PE coordinator’s job is to ensure equipment, planning resources and a curriculum plan are all in place.

Your PE coordinator can sign post you to any relevant courses and training in your area.  These might be activity specific such as gymnastics or directly aimed at new teachers.


It sounds obvious but be sure you know what you’re teaching.  If possible choose an activity you’re familiar with e.g. you may have played netball in your own time, or were keen on it at school.  Find an appropriate assessment for learning task for lesson 1.  Selecting an activity you are familiar with will help build your confidence when getting to know your class in the PE setting.

When you’ve decided what planning you will use, annotate it to shape the lesson to suit your school’s facilities and equipment and your class’s ability.


Head down to the PE cupboard and see that everything you need for your first lesson is there.  If not, can you adapt or improvise so your class still experience what you’d planned?  For example, if there’s only one set of netball posts, how can you ensure there is somewhere for each team to shoot? Can you rotate groups so all get to use the proper equipment?

‘Set’ your pupils ready for the first lesson and the assessment for learning task – who do you think will be in your lower, middle, and upper band?  Remember you can always move individuals during the lessons if they make more or less progress than you would expect.  These groups are simply a starting point.

External ideas

Although your school should have plenty of resources, there’s a lot to be gained by looking at those of National Governing Bodies (NGB’s such as England Hockey).  One such site I found useful when developing my tag rugby teaching included a video on the rules developed by England Rugby.

The step by step nature of the video as well as seeing things ‘play out’ was invaluable for me as an inexperienced teacher of rugby!  With a bit of time exploring the web you can find some extremely helpful content.

Model others

When I was a new PE teacher I spent much of my PPA time watching other teachers.  I sought out teachers that I knew were considered outstanding or real experts in their subject.  I’d watch maths and see if any of the pedagogical methods could be transferred to my practically based lessons.

You may find watching experienced teachers lead PE valuable or even ask to go to the local secondary school to see what methods they use to deliver fun, effective and progressive PE.

It can seem that due to the lack of attention PE receives during ITT that it is a second rate subject.  Some of the things I’ve shared here may seem time-consuming and that you’d be better focusing your attention elsewhere during the high pressure of your NQT year – but teaching good PE pays dividends with your class.  We all know of the health benefits but the relationships you build with your pupils spills over in to other aspects of their learning.

Children learn trust, respect and resilience and that they will know that it is you that they shared this process with.

If your school needs planning for both new and experienced staff, take a look at what we do at The PE Hub our lesson plans and schemes of work offer support across a wide range of PE activities.

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It was over 10 years ago, that I fulfilled my dream of training to be a secondary school PE teacher.  Little did I know that I would spend the greatest amount of my time in primary education and ultimately, find my true passion.  However, I feel that if initial teacher training and PE (ITT) for primary teachers had been what it should, I’d never have stepped through the front door of our campus primary school back in 2002.  Sadly, it appears not much has changed in the proceeding 15 years.

Initial teacher training and PE

At 22 and fresh out of university I was sent as a ‘specialist’ to work within the primary school and help train the staff.  As an NQT because I’d only just learned these skills for myself, I felt ill-equipped to lead others.  Who was I to tell a professional of 30 years how to teach a lesson?!

This was not the first time I was part of the ‘training’ of new teachers.  During my PGCE we had practical sessions covering the rules, skills, and teaching practices of the main activity areas such as invasion games and gymnastics.  One afternoon we were told that we would be teaching the primary PGCE students to play hockey…and this was to complete their 4 hours of PE as a foundation subject.   4 hours of students teaching students.

Changes in initial teacher training

While conducting research for my blog, I was interested to see what changes had occurred in initial teacher training and PE. I looked at 3 universities that run the PGCE and Teach First routes.  First of all, I expected to see a huge amount of change because of the recent investment in schools for PE, sport, and physical activity.  Maybe the government is now insisting institutions prepare their students better?

University of Wolverhampton ‘Introduction to foundations’

University of Cambridge  ‘Two half-day visits’

University of Hull  ‘4 half days’

PE is different from other foundations subjects due to its practical nature; so in my next blog, I will explore these differences.  The blog will cover ways in which new teachers can prepare themselves to overcome these obstacles to delivering PE.

If your school needs planning for both new and experienced staff, take a look at what we do at The PE Hub our lesson plans and schemes of work offer support across a wide range of PE activities.

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When we started the PE Hub it was with one mission, to transfer ideas from our head to yours!  On March 1st I’m heading back in to the school where I was first given the idea for The PE Hub.  I was delivering athletics CPD for primary teachers and at the end I was asked where to get hold of ‘my plans’.  Well I didn’t have any plans! I used my experience and previous learning to shape each session so I would plan as and when needed.  I asked the teachers what they wanted, and their answer was what is now, The PE Hub.  A key feature of the PE hub is our teaching resource cards which now feature brand new illustrations.

Adding Value

When Sammy and I started our subscription service for schools we knew it was essential that we always added value, year on year.  We ask for feedback and are committed to bringing teachers, PE coordinators and senior management what you want.  We work hard to write and deliver new content in the form of units of work and launched our latest this week, Year 2 dance Unit 2.  But we also know the resources that support these PE lesson plans are equally important.

Brand New Illustrations

We’ve been working closely with an illustration company to create 52 new pictures for the website.  These will replace the photos we currently have.  What benefits do these illustrations have over our current photos?

  1. Clearer and more accurate depiction of skills and positions
  2. Cheaper reproduction costs – we want you to use the pictures and our simple line drawn format will reduce ink costs for printing and photocopying
  3. Easier for us to respond to specific requests – for example if we receive repeated requests we can commission specific images to meet demand
How you can use the illustrations

We will be uploading the illustrations over the next week or so and will contact all subscribers to let you know when they are available.  If you’re not yet a subscribero get your school set with AfPE approved PE lesson plans and resources.

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What a wonderful summer of sport we had with the Olympics and the huge success of Team GB and now we are now well into week 1 of the Paralympics! There’s no doubt we are on track with ParaGB having 47 Gold medals (as I write!).

The opportunities for disabled people have skyrocketed in the past 10 years but is this change reaching schools? Therefore, are we truly prepared to be inclusive and adaptive in our teaching? If schools are the launch pad for successful athletes, is enough being done to ensure equal opportunities for PE and School Sport and disabled pupils?

As an NQT I taught in a large comprehensive in London, which had a well-established inclusion unit.  As a result, PE was one of the curriculum areas in which pupils with disabilities were included in ‘mainstream’ lessons.

With no training at university and also no in school support I was left to my own devices.  I had to try and include children with diverse and challenging needs. Consequently, I was often left feeling deflated that by trying to include everyone I felt I was helping no one.

This was in stark contrast to my second teaching post.   There was a specialist centre catering for pupils with severe sight loss. We had regular whole school training as well as additional training as PE teachers. What a difference I could make with this new knowledge and understanding! Over time we developed a cricket team and three pupils achieved a GCSE in PE alongside their mainstream classmates. As a department, we worked with the local sports partnership and started a Judo club which continues to this day.

There have been some excellent initiatives lead by disability sports governing bodies to get individual sports in to schools, with Boccia being an excellent example. However, as a teaching profession, we need to go further and improve initial teacher training and ongoing CPD to be truly inclusive. Without meaning to heap more responsibility on the teaching profession, and gold medals aside, every child deserves to be included in PE.

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So, I survived the year (hurrah!).  I knew it would be tough, I expected it to wear me down, but with a job secured in my host school as a School Direct Trainee and a whole heap of positive memories from my first year ever working in a school, I can’t deny that it was worth it!

Challenges of the School Direct route

Teaching up to 90% alongside weekly lesson observations, mentor meetings, constant evaluations, masters’ level assignments, updating individual child profiles and what feels like a daily average of a billion hours of planning.  So, I said goodbye to my weekends right at the start and often found myself trawling through textbooks, Ofsted documents and government policies late at night.    Doesn’t everyone enjoy the National Curriculum as bedtime reading?

Without a doubt, the hardest part has not been one individual task, but fitting it all in.  In the beginning, planning one lesson took me an eternity.  Even once I was happy with the lesson content I would have seventeen goes tweaking the learning objective.  I’ve made sincere apologies to my social life, fitness regime, bank balance (returning to student-ism, eeek), diet and boyfriend.

What helped

Apart from surrounding myself with positive people, remembering the reason why I took this on has been crucial to my endurance.  I wanted to be a teacher for a long time for the love of working with children, helping them to thrive and being part of a constantly varied working environment.  Of course the holidays are pretty peachy too!

Making use of the support around me has been crucial to my success.  Worrying about the standard of PE lessons is something I haven’t done, thanks to using the PE HUB scheme.  Saving me time and stress, it’s been reassuring to know objectives and assessment opportunities are already in place.  I’ve been observed teaching PE on several occasions and feedback has been excellent.  Tutors noted engaging tasks, good questioning within the lessons and a fluent progression of activities.  The literacy and numeracy links are what made me look really super though!

What’s next

So I say farewell to teacher training I look ahead to my NQT year with year 6 (apparently the school trusts me!).  I’m not worried about it; I call it nervous excitement.  Nervous that the hormones in year six will be the end of me, but excited to embrace the challenge!

Bryony Raine

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With one day left until the opening ceremony of UEFA Euro 2016, we think schools benefit from embracing the beautiful game.  Sammy and I were discussing our memories of watching international sporting events at school and what a great experience it was for us.  With football being one of the UK’s most popular sports millions will be glued to the TV over the next few weeks.

Watching football in schools

Some of the schools we work with will be showing next week’s England v Wales game during school time.  With all the home nations but Scotland competing this summer, it’s set to be an exciting few weeks.  You can follow all the group stage games through the BBC European Championships page which has the schedule for all the group stage games.

With pressure on schools to hit the cornerstone subject targets of literacy and numeracy, why would we watch our nation’s favourite sport during school time?

Create memories

Celebrating or commiserating with your friends and teachers!  What a great way for pupils to see another side to their peers and their staff.


Not all children will have the chance to see live sport at home, so this is a wonderful way to extend sport for all pupils.


Discussing how the home nations make up Great Britain and Ireland through football is a wonderful way to start a greater dialogue.   It is undoubtedly an excellent opportunity to discuss why old rivalries exist and some of the historical features of our country’s past.

Furthermore, staff cannot wait to have a little punt on who will win!  For many schools, it’s traditional to run a sweepstake.  So act quickly there’s only one day left to pick the winning team!  I got Belgium in our office sweepstake, which I’m reliably informed are ‘quite decent’!

We’d love to hear how your school has celebrated this sporting event; you can email us or share via our twitter @thepehub

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During girls senior years of education, there is a significant drop off in their participation in PE lessons.  Furthermore, there is an even more substantial decline in participation in out of hour’s school sport.  According to the Women’s Sport and Fitness foundation by the age of 14 only 12% of girls are active enough.

Girls participation in PE lessons

During my time as a secondary school PE teacher, I saw first-hand the reduction in girls’ participation from years 7 to 11.  Girls were entering secondary school engaged. However, this dwindled for a significant number of students over time.

It could be argued that secondary school is to blame, and there is a large amount of research that states we are not teaching the activities that girls want to participate in.  I think that this is only partially true because a lot of pupils don’t experience a wide enough range of activities until they reach secondary school.  For example, hockey, only a highly motivated pupil enjoys their first ever hockey lesson on a freezing January morning!

Window of opportunity

Children’s physical skills are hard-wired by the time they are seven years old.  “Introducing the skills beyond the age of 7 will prove more challenging as their cognitive ability has developed to a point where the ‘can’t do’ attitude ignites” (Sport Wales, 2016).   There is no substitute for early, positive experiences of PE. So exposing girls to as wide a variety of sports and activities as possible throughout their informative years (0-7) is essential.

What can we do?

By working together, primary and secondary schools can map the transition from KS2 to KS3 and beyond.  Primary schools can plan their curriculum to hit as many activity areas as possible.  As well is early curriculum experiences, children must have opportunities to take part in extracurricular clubs.  This involvement in out of hours activity fosters a lifestyle of physical activity as natural and essential.

Also, both sets of schools can consider joining up their PE planning, in particular from the feeder primary schools.  Finding out which sports and activities the girls enjoy in primary school and immediately engaging them in these upon entering secondary school, will go some way to help.  A young girl is more likely to commit to PE if their early engagement in Year 7 is positive.

To find out more ways to inspire your girls to stay active visit the This Girl Can website.


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