The importance of high quality physical education to demonstrate the value of being active

Mike Crichton, Chair of the National Association of Physical Education shares his thoughts on the importance of high quality physical education in light of the Youth Sport Trust's National School Sport Week.

In the light of the Youth Sport Trust’s National School Sport Week, it is useful to reflect on the importance of the physical literacy journey from the ABC’s of basic movement to taking part in more challenging physical activities and sports. Every child learns to move. They do this through experimentation, taking risks and becoming more confident in the way their bodies move and understand what happens dependent on where they move to, how and in the space around them. As challenges become more complex children move to learn so that they can cope with the various situations they find themselves in.

The Association for Physical Education (afPE) recognises, values and promotes the importance of high quality physical education (PE) for all children. In a nursery setting in the early years through to school and then onwards and upwards through the key stages; every child and young person is entitled to a broad, balanced and enjoyable experience in PE and school sport. The subject in itself is the ‘education of the physical’ so therefore every child and young person deserves a valuable and rich experience. As the PE national curriculum states in its purpose: ‘it should inspire all pupils to succeed and excel in competitive sport and other physically-demanding activities. It should provide opportunities for pupils to become physically confident in a way which supports their health and fitness. Opportunities to compete in sport and other activities build character and help to embed values such as fairness and respect’.

The Youth Sport Trust’s National School Sport Week provides all schools and all pupils with a focus to celebrate the importance of taking part in physical activity and sport and to fully enjoy the experience. Many a champion started their journey to international success with an inspirational experience in a PE lesson which was followed up by an interest to join a sports club in extra-curricular time and then taking the opportunity to involve themselves in a school team, an event or a competition.

The new Active Lives survey will measure the engagement of children from the age of five. To support the improvement and enjoyment of PE and sport, the sector needs to become familiar with the school’s curriculum. At a local level, sport and recreation organisations need to ensure they understand the unique priorities of schools, to offer a design that fits with the local needs. If there are strong links between the school and its community sport and vice versa, then a cohesive and collaborative approach can be tailored to deliver an enriched learning environment that benefits the young person’s entire school experience.

A well planned and inspirational range of sports and activities and extended PE lesson time during National School Sport Week will give pupils an opportunity to demonstrate their potential, experience for the first time a new sport or activity, develop their confidence and self-esteem and support them in the realisation that being physically active is a great and important thing to do.

The Association for Physical Education (afPE) is made up of many individual and school members who will be there during the Youth Sport Trust’s National School Sport Week inspiring and motivating children and young people to take part. With this year’s theme of Rio 2016, the activities will be replicating Olympic and Paralympic activity. A big thank you to all who ‘go the extra mile’ in organising those wonderful opportunities that I know will be undertaken and provide lasting memories.

afPE will be delighted to hear the stories of successful activity and innovative ideas. Keep us informed and afterwards you could look to write an article about the week that we can post on the website or even include in our member’s termly magazine PE Matters. Contact afPE at

The Association also produces a range of resources that support schools in their risk assessments, their planning of high quality learning and teaching and a very good definition poster of physical education, physical activity and sport. Again contact afPE click the link.

As one of the group of national partners supporting schools in their delivery of physical education and school sport you don’t have to ‘go it alone’. Look for support from local and national organisations and of course the Sport and Recreation Alliance who can support you. Just ask! Make the sport week a great success for all. Good luck!

National School Sport Week takes place from 20-24 June 2016