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Physical Education

Mrs Davies PE Subject Lead

Intent - What do we want children to learn?

Quite simply, it is our intention that every pupil, irrelevant of needs, develops such a passion for Physical Education that they seek out and embrace the plethora of sporting opportunities provided here at Birchwood and, that are signposted further afield.   We wish for every pupil to become technically proficient,  wholeheartedly drive both competitive and non-competitive sporting opportunities and lead a healthy lifestyle.


Through PE we aim to support this philosophy by:

  • fostering the enjoyment that taking part in physical activity and sport can bring;
  • enabling children to develop and explore physical skills with increasing control and coordination;
  • encouraging children to work and explore independently and with others (pairs/groups) in a range of practice and competitive situations;
  • developing the way children perform ‘fundamental’ skills, and apply rules and conventions, for different activities;
  • showing children how to improve the quality and control of their performance;
  • teaching children to recognise and describe how their bodies feel during exercise and learn how to make healthy lifestyle choices (promoted by our pupil voice initiatives - Get Active poster campaign, class 2km a day etc);
  • developing the children’s enjoyment of physical activity through creativity and imagination;
  • developing an understanding in children of how to succeed in a range of physical activities, and how to evaluate their own success (dealing in competitive contexts with success and loss).

At Birchwood we know that children learn best when the curriculum is well sequenced to enable revisiting of core knowledge, skills and understanding to deepen conceptual awareness before demanding application across the whole curriculum. Please see the PE Progression of Skills documents (held in school), which outline how the key skills are developed, revisited, assessed and built upon during EYFS to Year 6.

Implementation - How are we going to achieve our intent?

All classes participate in 2 hours of National Curriculum PE per week, with the daily class ‘2km a day’, break and lunch time play equipment/ Play Leader sessions, Forest School time, residential/non-residential educational visits, masterclasses, Garden Gang and extracurricular opportunities are used to supplement this coverage further still.  As required in the National Curriculum, we teach dance, games and gymnastics at Key Stage 1. In Key Stage 2 we teach compulsory dance, games and gymnastics, plus two other activities: swimming and water safety, and athletics.  Our Outdoor and Adventurous curriculum is fulfilled through curriculum time, Forest School sessions and during residential weeks for children in upper Key Stage 2.  Swimming and water safety lessons are delivered through Years 3, 4 and 5 in order to complete the full requirements of this activity.


At Birchwood we use a variety of teaching and learning styles in PE lessons. Our principal aim is to develop the children’s knowledge, skills and understanding, and we do this through a mixture of whole class teaching and individual, pair or group activities. Teachers draw attention to good examples of individual performance as models for the other children, and we encourage the children to evaluate their own work as well as the work of other children. Within lessons we give the children

the opportunity both to collaborate and to compete, and they can use a wide range of resources.


In all year groups children have a wide range of physical ability. Whilst recognising this fact, we provide suitable learning opportunities (following our progression of skills grids) for ALL children by personalising the curriculum intentions to meet the needs of the child.  We may: 

  • set common tasks that are open-ended and can have a variety of results (e.g. timed events, such as an 80m sprint);
  • set tasks of increasing difficulty, where not all children complete all tasks (e.g. deep-water swimming);
  • group children by ability, and setting different tasks for each group (e.g. masterclass provision, SEND Panathlon);
  • provide a range of challenge through the provision of different resources (e.g. different gymnastics equipment).
  • We know curriculum challenge is achieved through the PE curriculum's ambition...not by activity type - therefore we adopt a 3 pronged approach to all PE learning for all types of learners.


The curriculum planning in PE is carried out in three phases (long-term, medium-term and short-term). The long-term plan maps out the PE activities covered in each term during the key stage. The PE subject leader devises this plan following analysis of the breath of coverage from the previous year in conjunction with the ‘competition calendar’ for the following year.  We use the adapted Suffolk scheme of PE planning tailored to our Wheel of Wisdom curriculum (cross curricular learning opportunities) and accompanying core task assessment opportunities as the basis for our medium-term plans (ensuring statutory National Curriculum coverage). This gives details of each unit of work for each term. These plans define what we teach and ensure an appropriate balance and distribution of work across each term.  Class teachers complete a short-term plan for each PE unit of work. This lists the specific curriculum intentions and expected outcomes (guided by our progression of skills grids) and gives details of how the lesson is to be taught. 


We plan the PE activities so that they build upon the prior learning of the children. While there are opportunities for children of all abilities to develop their skills, knowledge and understanding in each activity area, there is pre teaching and progression planned into the scheme of work, so that the children are increasingly challenged as they move up through the school.


EYFS Physical Development is a prime area of learning.  Development in this area involves providing opportunities for young children to be active and interactive; and to develop their co-ordination, control, and movement. Children are also helped to understand the importance of physical activity, and to make healthy choices in relation to exercise and food. We aim to deliver this through planned, purposeful activities, with a mix of adult-led and child-initiated activities (see EYFS policy for more detailed information).

Impact - What will it look like when we have achieved our intent?

There are literally hundreds of ways we can demonstrate the excellent impact our curriculum design has on our pupils. In a nutshell, here are some examples:

1 -A significant use of the Sports funding allocated to the school has been used to establish a masterclass program at three tiers of ability – the talented, those meeting expectations and those vulnerable to not keeping up.  The program involves initial talent identification, the writing of personalised learning plans with personalised goals, termly reporting to parents (including bespoke PE parent consultations), family learning together sessions and collaborative masterclass working with other schools.  “The ‘masterclasses’ that many pupils take part in for tennis, for example, not only demonstrate the variety of activities that pupils experience, but also the amazing outcomes that they are capable of” (OFSTED).  Over the last year, the masterclass program designed for those vulnerable to not keeping up saw 100% make expected progress and 57% accelerated progress.

2 – The school offers a broad range of extra curricular provision to support the Bolt Curriculum: boys & girls football, running, circuits, hip hop dance, netball, basketball, start to move, rugby, volleyball, athletics, tennis, Birchwood Boot Camp, cricket and cycling to name a few!  Curriculum time ‘taster sessions’ prior to the commencement of the club promote interest (the increasing ‘take up’ statistics show this has been a real success).  Intra School Competitions introduce the children to ‘competing’ against those they know, and Inter School Competitions see pupils compete against other schools, at local, regional and national level.  Teams represent the majority of the ‘clubs’ mentioned above, whilst additional entries are made into ‘friendly’ tournaments. Nationally, our pupils attend and compete, representing their school and country eg - national gymnastics floor champion / national ballroom champion...masterclass pupils regularly attend Wimbledon / Twickenham etc. Over the last 6 years, utilising the Sports Funding to subsidise the clubs, we have seen a significant rise in the number of pupils engaging with our extended learning opportunities from 12% in 2012/2013 to 86% in 2018/19 (with 95% take up across KS2).  In 2018/19, 100% of Pupil Premium children attended extra curricular PE provision fully subsidised from the Sports Premium Funding. A book mark of pupils' names that haven't attended an extra curricular sporting opportunity over the course of an academic year is given to the Play Leaders at lunchtimes to harness their engagement in physically active sessions.     

3 - It is widely recognised that Obesity is a serious health concern for children living in the UK. Government findings suggest the problem begins early with excess weight gained before a child starts school. "More than one in five children are already overweight or obese in reception year at age 4-5, according to the most recent national child measurement programme, and by year 6 (aged 10-11) this figure had increased to one in three" (UK Government's Childhood Obesity Strategy 2019).  Once established, obesity tracks through childhood and adolescence. This is a major concern as being overweight or obese is associated with adverse health outcomes both in the short and long term and has potential long-term consequences through adverse effects on educational attainment and lifetime achievement.  Improving dietary choices and increasing activity levels are key to this agenda... Physical Activity is a ‘Birchwood Bolt’.  It is an inherent part of our school ethos and alongside the other three Bolts (Forest School, Plot to Plate and Pupil Voice) children are encouraged and supported in making healthy lifestyle choices.  The child designed class 2km a day, our ‘get active’ poster campaign, Garden Gang, Chicken Monitors and Head Gardeners nurture of healthy produce for our school lunches are examples of pupil voice initiatives to encourage every child in school to seek out more opportunities to be physically active and lead a healthy lifestyle.  Over the last year, Birchwood’s School Council have designed an activity/equipment rota to promote active play and lunchtimes (their favourite day is scooter day)!  The school's Senior Leadership Team were invited to 10 Downing Street to talk to Ministers about how the school is so positively and so successfully promoting active and healthy lifestyles.  

Team GB sailor, Saskia Clark, delivered an inspirational assembly (July '19) addressing the benefits of eating healthy food and exercising. Saskia talked to the pupils about her experience of the Olympics and took them through her challenging training regime. 

The staff have worked tirelessly since Sept’18 on producing ‘Progression of skills,’ documents for every subject taught at Birchwood.  From Writing to Forest School skills.  These documents are kept in school and are available upon request. 

More information about Birchwood's PE and Physical Activity work can be found by following these links...