Premier Education

Check your sports class is inclusive this Learning Disability Week

Coming up in June is Learning Disability Week. While it’s important to have inclusive PE classes every week, Learning Disability Week is the perfect time for you to review your school’s PE lessons to ensure they’re truly inclusive.

For a class to be inclusive for all pupils, traditional perspectives of PE must be turned on their head. For example, the concept of competitive sports and winning should shift to focus on cooperation, getting involved and personal growth.

Additionally, it’s important that teachers look past their own biases or preconceptions about disability, and instead, view their PE class as a group of learners with a variety of skill levels.

More and more, we’re seeing how people with learning disabilities, whether that be a mild learning disability or a severe learning disability, are busting myths about their own abilities.


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Learning Disability Week 2024

Learning Disability Week aims to raise awareness about the challenges that children and adults with a learning disability face their whole life.

This year’s theme for Learning Disability Week 2024 is ‘Do you see me?’. It encourages everyone to celebrate those with a learning disability, and gives them the opportunity to be seen, heard and valued.

When is Learning Disability Week 2024?

This disability awareness day occurs annually in the third week of June. In 2024, this falls on Monday 17th – Sunday 23rd June 2024.

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Are your lessons inclusive for people with a learning disability?

The goal of inclusive PE is for all students (who can safely participate) to successfully engage and participate in the class in a way that is both fun and challenging.

Being inclusive is not just about being prepared for particular situations that may arise for people with a learning disability. More importantly, being inclusive is being able to adapt or modify your activities as you notice that any pupil isn’t able to fully participate in the class.

This may involve implementing rules that every team member must receive a pass before the team can score, or using a ball that makes a noise as it moves to allow students with visual impairments to get involved more easily. Or, it may be as simple as using videos in your class to help initially teach specific skills.

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4 ways to make your PE lessons more inclusive

Making your PE classes more inclusive doesn’t just benefit people with reduced intellectual ability, it can directly and indirectly benefit your entire class.

Globally recognised, the TREE method of sport inclusivity gives you four ways that you can make your class more inclusive – whether it’s planned ahead or during class delivery.

1. Teaching style

This is all about how you deliver your class including how you communicate and lead the activities. As you know, a teacher makes a huge impact on learning and how pupils develop new skills.

Some things you can try changing to make teaching more inclusive include:

  • being aware and educated about the abilities and needs of your class,
  • using age-appropriate language,
  • keeping your instructions short and sweet (and checking they were understood),
  • ensuring your class is within visual and audible range,
  • using visual aids and demonstrations (whether that’s cue cards or video tutorials),
  • try a buddy system to allow for peer support.
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2. Rules

How the game is played can also make an impact on your pupil’s ability to participate. However, you’re in control of the rules. You can remove or simplify rules to allow for different skill levels and then reintroduce them as their understanding of the game and skill level increases.

Some rules you can try changing to be more inclusive include:

  • allow for more ball bounces in games such as tennis or more steps in netball,
  • reduce the number of players on a team so that there is more opportunity to get involved
  • alternatively, increase the number of players on a team to decrease the amount of physical activity required by each player,
  • remove competitive elements, like scorekeeping.
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3. Environment

Where you play also affects access to the sport. You may find that some surfaces or surrounding stimuli pose challenges for children with a learning disability. Or that a full-sized field or court is not inclusive for children of different ability levels or reduced mobility.

Some things you can try changing to make the environment more inclusive include:

  • adapting the size of the playing area to match ability,
  • implement zones within the playing area to reduce the required physical activity,
  • reduce net, hoop or goal height or width,
  • using a smooth surface such as an indoor court,
  • limit distractions in the surrounding area such as loud music, unnecessary equipment or other activities.
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4. Equipment

‍Finally, the fourth way to consider in making your class inclusive is the equipment. This is all about adapting the equipment typically used in the activity for something more suitable to the individual’s needs.

Some changes to equipment may include: ‍

  • change the size or weight of the equipment,
  • change the way the equipment can be used,
  • use balls that bounce less or float more,
  • use equipment that is a contrasting colour to the area of play.
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Here at Premier Education, our coaches pride themselves on their ability to engage their entire class and encourage participation through fun activities. A crucial part of this is providing the right support for children living life with a learning difficulty as well as working with the school and families to ensure the whole class get the most out of their PE lessons.

Check out our blog on mental health and wellbeing for ways to bring effective mental health strategies into your school.