Premier Education

Reimagining PE in Schools


There is an opportunity to use physical activity and PE in schools to support other aspects of learning and development, beyond just physical health. This article explores the importance of physical education for young children, detailing its numerous benefits.

How Important is Physical Education in Primary Schools?


The benefits of sport and physical activity go far beyond the body. There is an increased acknowledgment and understanding that physical activities, from running alone, to team games and even free play, help to improve more than just movement skills and physical health. In young children, physical activities (from team sports, to drama and dance) support the development of personal skills and abilities such as confidence, communication, interpersonal skills, diplomacy, teamwork, and relationship building. Physical activity can also impact mental wellbeing, improve sleep and even behaviour.

This may be old news to some teachers, but many education structures still miss the opportunities to develop other key benefits.

As well as the mental and emotional benefits, studies show that physical activity in primary education helps classroom learning. One conclusion stated: “Teachers believed PE was beneficial as a vehicle for physical activity and positively impacted on learning and behaviour in the classroom.”

What are the Benefits of PE Class for Primary School Children?


The physical benefits of PE classes in primary schools are well recognised. For example:

  • Fitness
    • Physical education helps to increase fitness levels, including muscular and cardiovascular endurance, strength and flexibility.
  • Motor skills and coordination
    • Children develop the fundamental motor skills that lead to safe and successful involvement in a wide range of sports.
  • Obesity
    • Regular physical activity is the best way to tackle the growing issues of obesity in young children and sustain a healthy body weight.


Physical education and activity also have benefits back in the classroom, supporting aspects of teaching:

  • Attention
    • Being physically active during the school day results in improved attention in class.
  • Concentration
    • While this is particularly evident in older pupils, even younger children who play sports are better able to concentrate and maintain focus. This can have a positive impact on their academic achievement – far beyond the football pitch and the netball court.


Physical activity has a long list of psychological, developmental, and emotional benefits:

  • Creativity
    • PE provides opportunities for kids to be creative. This may feel at odds with traditional ideas of creativity being the preserve of the arts, but sports and play offer great opportunities for young people to solve tactical, physical or spatial problems.
  • Collaboration
    • PE and in particular team activities from football to orienteering can help children work with others: cooperating, collaborating, communicating, organising themselves and others to solve a problem (even if the problem is, get the ball in the goal), even delegating. This also helps children work out their role in a task or group – how they can be helpful. For many children this also becomes a great place for acquiring leadership skills that will prove valuable throughout their lives.
  • Anxiety
    • Physical exercise helps to ease anxiety, tension and stress. As well as having short and long-term benefits on child mental health, this also brings benefits to the classroom, improving attention in class.
  • Friends
    • Sports activities are a great way for kids to meet and make new friends.
  • Communication
    • Physical education is particularly important to help children who are slow to build verbal communication skills.
  • Fair play
    • PE and competitive sport in particular, deliver important life lessons, helping kids to understand the concept of fair play, honest competition and good sportsmanship. School sports also teach the often hard lesson of losing as well as winning. This is an important lesson because it prepares children for real life, equipping them with a thicker skin and the knowledge that while losing isn’t fun, you can survive it and live to play another day!
  • Good habits
    • Among the many benefits of physical education in school, children learn to appreciate the significance of physical fitness for a lifetime.
  • Sleep
    • Those who exercise regularly have a better quality of sleep – and this is true of people of all ages. Good sleep has a range of benefits from general mood and mental health to ability to concentrate in class.
  • Confidence
    • School sport helps children to develop confidence and self-esteem. Children build a sense of their own abilities and value. This is a very important part of child development as it can influence life beyond the academic year: seizing opportunities and knowing that they can achieve, accomplish and solve if they apply themselves. Positivity breeds positivity. Confidence also helps kids with goal setting and stretching themselves, building a broad range of new skills and realising their ambitions.
Children doing athletics at a Premier Education PE session

A different approach to getting kids active


If a child struggles in their English or Maths lessons, they may be given additional support. But, what happens to a child that is struggling in PE? One member of the Premier Education team experienced this first hand.

“My wife’s experience is the perfect example of ‘the child who got left behind’ in PE. She wasn’t a fast runner, she couldn’t really catch or throw a ball, and was offered little technical input in order to improve.

“And so she began to dislike PE lessons because she felt she always let the team down or always came last in the race. Other kids teased her because of her ‘ineptitude at sport’.

“This early experience has had a profound impact on her life. Even until recently she was reluctant to try new activities for fear of not being able to do them. It was only when she found a dance class with a teacher who understood her fears, that this began to change. Today she has more confidence and is beginning to get out there and give things a go. It is a shame that there were so many lost years. We only hope our daughter’s experience is a better one.”

This story helps to illustrate our approach to physical education.

Prior to Covid-19, Premier Education is working with schools across the country, to help get children active. In some schools we focus on the less active and disengaged children, encouraging them to try new activities. We reassure them that it was not about ‘being the best’, but simply about having fun. This gives many children the chance to succeed. Parents and PE teachers involved enjoy helping these children develop confidence over time, helping them to thrive by framing physical activity in a new, non-competitive, non-sport-based way.

How Much Sport and Physical Activity Should Children do in School?


NHS guidance states that 5-18-year-olds should aim for an average of at least 60 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a day across the week. They add that children should take part in a variety of types and intensities of physical activity, developing skills, muscles and bones.

In 2019, the UK Government committed to providing pupils with greater opportunity to access 60 minutes of sport and physical activity every day. This was part of the School Sport and Activity Action Plan which also recommended that 30 minutes of this be delivered during the school sport sessions.

This initiative came as a result of recent research that the majority of UK adults (including teachers) were “unaware of the amount of physical activity that children and young people should be doing every day.” It also found that “parents often over-estimate the amount of exercise their children are doing at school, and therefore under-estimate the amount of activity that they should be doing out of school hours.”

Premier Education coach teaching children to do gymnastics in a school PE session.

Primary School PE National Curriculum


Since Physical Education in primary schools is not a core subject, teachers are given relatively little training or guidance on the subject unless they choose to specialise as physical education teachers. Many fully qualified primary school teachers receive only eight hours of training on PE during four years of teacher training.

The national curriculum guidance for KS1 and KS2 teachers for PE is less than 500 words. Guidance for English is 88 pages. This places undue pressure on primary school teachers who are expected to teach PE lessons every week.

A number of our partner schools choose to utilise Premier Education’s sport sessions as an opportunity for ongoing professional development, encouraging their teaching staff to observe physical education sessions. This increases staff confidence, and improves their ability to teach children a variety of different sports.

For physical education teachers with little time or interest in professional development, our coaching programmes comply with national standards, giving time back to teachers during the working day, whilst offering kids the opportunity for safe practice of sports.

Current curriculum


Key stage 1 is for ages 5-7

Key stage 1

Pupils should be taught to:

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


This is followed by key stage 2, relevant for 7-11 year olds.

Preceding secondary school, 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; and
  • compare their performances with previous ones and demonstrate improvement to achieve their personal best.

Inspiration for your PE lessons


There are lots of different ways to engage children, and deliver the wider benefits of physical education within the KS1 and KS2 curriculums.

Premier Education delivers a wide range of activities for primary schools including before/after-school activities. Consider how activities like those we deliver could help you and your school reimagine PE.

For example:


Discover more activities.

Here at Premier Education, we support the specific curriculum intent of our partner schools, while synchronising with the National Curriculum purpose and aims for PE. Key to the overarching curriculum design will be a range of opportunities to support child development in being creative, confident, and caring. This aligns with a high-quality, inspiring PE curriculum that builds character and an understanding of fairness and respect.