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Primary PE and the National Curriculum

In the UK there is growing awareness and concern about people’s sedentary lifestyles and the associated health risks. Obesity, especially in school-aged children, is on the increase and the only exercise some youngsters take is during their PE lessons at school.

High quality physical education in the early years can establish positive lifelong attitudes towards activity, sport, health and well-being. The government encourages primary schools to provide two hours PE every week and in addition many schools deliver an excellent wide range of extra curricular physical activities.

At KS1 and KS2 children should experience a range of activities starting with the basic movements of running, jumping, balancing, throwing and catching and then learning skills which will equip them to participate in sport and physical activities throughout their lives.

All children enjoy being challenged and a strong PE programme will enable children to find out what they are capable of achieving. There should be opportunities for practising and testing skills, working in small-sided games, developing team-work and experiencing competitive and cooperative play.

PE lessons should be enjoyable, engaging and active. The aim should be to develop children physically, socially and cognitively and foster a sense of well-being and achievement.

Some children learn physical skills very readily, for others the pace of progress is much slower. Some parents organise coaching sessions and holiday activity camps for their children out of school, whilst others do not. Consequently children vary hugely in terms of their skill level, knowledge and experience when it comes to physical activity.  There is a need for differentiation in PE, just as there is during literacy and maths lessons. This can present a challenge for teachers but differentiation can be achieved by a number of means: different equipment can used for different groups, skill progressions can be added, the rules adjusted and tasks tweaked so that everyone is actively challenged. The aim should be to foster an atmosphere of everyone trying to achieve his or her personal best.

Here at More2play we have sought out and selected equipment to meet the needs of all children as they progress through their PE programme. For throwing we have balls of all shapes and sizes to suit the most timid or proficient thrower and catcher. We have bean bags for the early years, as well as hoops, skittles and mats. We can supply you with a themed activity bag containing  a selection of items to promote a specific skill or offer a set of sports products of the same type. All our products are competitively priced. To accompany some items we provide activity cards with suggestions for how the equipment might be used. We don’t want to teach ‘grandmothers to suck eggs’ however, we are aware that some teachers find themselves responsible for teaching PE who would not regard themselves as expert. Our aim is to make PE teaching a positive experience for all.

Below is the National curriculum in England: PE programmes of study for Key stage 1 and Key stage 2

Purpose of study

A high-quality physical education curriculum inspires 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 national curriculum for physical education aims to ensure that all pupils:

  • develop competence to excel in a broad range of physical activities
  • are physically active for sustained periods of time
  • engage in competitive sports and activities
  • lead healthy, active lives

Attainment targets

By the end of each key stage, pupils are expected to know, apply and understand the matters, skills and processes specified in the relevant programme of study.
Schools are not required by law to teach the example content in [square brackets].

Subject content

Key stage 1

Pupils should develop fundamental movement skills, become increasingly competent and confident and access a broad range of opportunities to extend their agility, balance and coordination, individually and with others. They should be able to engage in competitive (both against self and against others) and co-operative physical activities, in a range of increasingly challenging situations.

Pupils should be taught to:

  • master basic movements including running, jumping, throwing and catching, as well as developing balance, agility and co-ordination, and begin to apply these in a range of activities
  • participate in team games, developing simple tactics for attacking and defending
  • perform dances using simple movement patterns

Key stage 2

Pupils should continue to apply and develop a broader range of skills, learning how to use them in different ways and to link them to make actions and sequences of movement. They should enjoy communicating, collaborating and competing with each other. They should develop an understanding of how to improve in different physical activities and sports and learn how to evaluate and recognise their own success.

Pupils should be taught to:

  • use running, jumping, throwing and catching in isolation and in combination
  • play competitive games, modified where appropriate [for example, badminton, basketball, cricket, football, hockey, netball, rounders and tennis], and apply basic principles suitable for attacking and defending
  • develop flexibility, strength, technique, control and balance [for example, through athletics and gymnastics]
  • perform dances using a range of movement patterns
  • take part in outdoor and adventurous activity challenges both individually and within a team
  • compare their performances with previous ones and demonstrate improvement to achieve their personal best

Swimming and water safety:

All schools must provide swimming instruction either in key stage 1 or key stage 2.
In particular, pupils should be taught to:

  • swim competently, confidently and proficiently over a distance of at least 25 metres
  • use a range of strokes effectively [for example, front crawl, backstroke and breaststroke]
  • perform safe self-rescue in different water-based situations