Half of primary schools pledge to improve PE lessons in Sheffield

Sarah Williams during a PE lesson
Sarah Williams during a PE lesson
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More than half of primary schools in Sheffield have signed up to a pledge to improve physical education in the city.

Headteachers from 54 schools have already signed up to the pledge, set up by the Sheffield Primary PE, Sport and Physical Activity Strategic Alliance, to develop a city-wide plan for PE in schools.

The pledge aims to gather information about good practice and areas of weakness to help ensure every child has access to the best possible PE provision.

The alliance - made up of various organisations including Sheffield Council, South Yorkshire Sport and Sheffield Hallam University - will develop a plan which will give schools a platform to share positive practice and enable training and support to be focused in the areas which most need it.

Sarah Williams, a primary PE specialist course leader at Sheffield Hallam University, helped to set up the alliance 18 months ago.

She said: "I was visiting a number of school around the city and talking to teachers about their PE lessons and realised there was a lot of different things going on in schools and depending on where your children are in the city, then they children will access quite different PE and support.

"It was decided to set up a group that has been meeting for about 18 months to discuss what we need to do to support schools.

"We discussed a pledge that all primary schools sign up to, which we launched at the beginning of the year. It lists a number of things that we would expect for five, seven and nine-year-olds.

"Schools fill in a quick survey online about what they are doing and areas where they aren't quite achieving."

Schools are asked questions such as ' is at least one hour of PE within the curriculum led by a qualified teacher?' and 'is the school committed to working with partners to ensure all children learn to swim at least 25m before they leave primary school?'

Sarah said: "It's not an awards things. It's about raising awareness in schools.

"Many schools think they are doing a fantastic job, and they are in many ways, but this is about offering lots of different opportunities.

"The strategic group will look at training and support in the areas that aren't so strong - this could be around healthy eating and nutrition or physical activity."

Sarah stressed that Sheffield has some of the best PE provisions in the country.

"Sport in schools is very strong in Sheffield - We have some outstanding schools in the city," she added.

"South Yorkshire Sport recognises schools within the region that are centres of excellence and, compared with other areas, Sheffield is very strong but doesn't have a vehicle for sharing practice.

"We don't have to do anything big and grand but think about small changes.

"PE has a positive impact on attendance and emotional wellbeing. It is a great subject when done well to really build a school community."

To sign up to the pledge visit https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfQwfMOsYyCiJS6CJZvW-6e1Zsp-Db5tYqMD-Ha8WaqEG9Pzg/viewform