Do Primary School teachers who deliver Physical Education require more professional development opportunities?

What do we know so far?

  • Over a third of primary school teachers lack confidence when it comes to teaching physical education.
  • Over a quarter of teachers when questioned in the study said they “do not feel adequately qualified to teach the subject”.
  • More than half have expressed the need for more professional development opportunities in the subject.

(Supporting primary teachers to promote physical literacy during PE lessons – | University of Bedfordshire, 2015)

And the knock-on effects of those stats?

  • Two in five teachers say their students don’t enjoy Physical Education.
  • One in three children across the UK leave primary school with negative feelings about being physically active.
  • Teachers believe 40% of children they teach leave primary school without the foundation movement skills to engage in physical activity.
  • Almost 1 in 5 children are overweight or obese when they start primary school, rising to 1 in 3 when they start secondary school. (About childhood obesity, n.d.)

(Supporting primary teachers to promote physical literacy during PE lessons – | University of Bedfordshire, 2015)

So, the big question is, why is this the case and what can we do to support an improvement in these figures?

The majority (88%) of teachers say they recognise PE is important, and as important as the other subjects they teach (TES, 2015); yet it is estimated that more than 40% of newly qualified teachers begin their careers with an average of just six hours initial training in PE (YST, 2018). You are not to blame!

It is a common misconception that only specialist PE teachers and sports coaches can deliver high quality PE lessons that will sufficiently impact children’s perceptions towards PE and their physical outcomes; but why?

All primary school teachers understand the core areas of learning and clearly demonstrate these in other subjects; and it goes without saying that they know their classes better than anyone else. So is it just a case of figuring out the best way to equip those teachers with the skills and knowledge needed to spark their confidence to deliver PE to a high standard; but with the added bonus of enjoyment and enthusiasm that transmits onto their pupils.

The Youth Sport Trust (YST) have set out 5 goals to improve children’s formative experiences of PE and school sport for a generation (YST, 2018), and the first one on the list?.… “for every primary school teacher to be professionally developed to help children become physically literate by the time they leave primary school.” This goal has of course been well supported due to the government’s announcement in July to extend the PE & Sport Premium for the current academic year.

How can you support the development of your teachers to confidently deliver high quality PE lessons?

  • Online CPD – throughout this pandemic there’s been heaps of free courses and webinars published online by various providers and governing bodies. Check out a list of courses we recommend and had our staff complete here.
  • 1:1 teacher CPD – if you’re looking for something a little more tailored to you and your staff then why not check out our PE CPD for Teachers programme. Teachers will identify termly, areas for development & support and using the information provided, our staff will plan a tailored personal development programme to impact your teachers self-identified areas for progression.
  • Sport specific qualifications – almost every recognised sport in the UK now has its own governing body and accredited coaching qualification. Use this most recent list of governing bodies for each sport before checking out the courses they offer.
  • Active Partnerships – formally known as County Sports Partnerships (CPSs). Every region has one and they are a great resource for finding out about courses that are running locally to you and can also signpost you towards local providers who can support you and your staff in your school. If you’re unsure on who your Active Partnership is then check out their website to search your region.

What impact can we have?

The really is no hiding place right now from the stats surrounding activity levels and obesity rates in primary school aged children which have no doubt worsened in recent months due to lockdown. Sport England state that during lockdown 44% of children were doing no activity or less than half an hour each day. (BBC Newsround, 2020)

There are numerous ways that we can support the increased physical activity in children and young people. A positive start is to ensure we are delivering a high quality, engaging and active PESSPA offer within our schools with the aim to engage every pupil.

With the PE & Sport Premium confirmed for the current academic year, what better time to support your staff in the development of their delivery of PESSPA. More details on how you should use the premium to secure improvements in the following 5 key indicators can be found here.

If you’re interested to find out more about how PH Sports can support your school with increasing staff confidence to deliver high quality PE with enjoyment and enthusiasm, contact our team or send us a message through the website.


BBC Newsround, 2020. Coronavirus: Children’s Activity Levels Are ‘Getting Worse’ Says Sport England – CBBC Newsround. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 24 September 2020]. 2015. Supporting Primary Teachers To Promote Physical Literacy During PE Lessons – Beds.Ac.Uk | University Of Bedfordshire. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 24 September 2020].

RCPCH. n.d. About Childhood Obesity. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 24 September 2020].

TES, 2015. More Than A Quarter Of Primary Teachers Feel Unqualified To Teach PE. [online] Tes. Available at: <> [Accessed 24 September 2020].

YST, 2018. Teachers Need More Support To Nurture A Love Of PE And School Sport | Youth Sport Trust. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 24 September 2020].