PE: Improving bodies and minds
It’s common knowledge physical exercise is vital for keeping our bodies in good shape but the benefits of Physical Education in school extend far beyond the sports field.
In 2020, after the national lockdown, children’s charity Youth Sport Trust carried out a survey of 1,396 young people aged 6–15 to discover how they now felt about sport and exercise. Over a quarter said physical education, sport and exercise had made them feel better during that time. Additionally, 40% said not being able to play sport had made them feel worse. Clearly, sport and exercise has a positive impact on the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people.
At Ipswich Academy it is easy to see the positive effects PE has on our students. In lessons following PE their attention is noticeably greater, their ability to focus is far better. And in the long-term PE builds self-confidence, reduces anxiety and improves self-esteem. It also helps young people develop attributes which help them cope with difficulties and setbacks.
We take a skills-based approach in our PE lessons to improve the fundamental movement skills – running, jumping, hand-eye coordination, balance, agility, throwing and catching – this way pupils can develop the core abilities which are used in multiple sports and physical activities.
The mental side of sport isn’t ignored though. We place a great emphasis on the ability to outwit opponents with strategy and tactics, and students are routinely exposed to attacking and defending principles specific to activities through in-depth discussion.
To be able to track our students progress effectively, measurement is key. We use five assessments each term to check how they’re improving in areas such as speed, fitness, coordination and strength. We then use that data to adjust our lessons accordingly, so the pupils continue to make progress, term after term.
At the core of sport is competition, which is important for helping students develop a winning mental attitude and equipping them to handle both success and failure. To do this we play competitive games in sport and take part in inter-school competition. As well as teaching pupils about sportsmanship and respect, it fosters a sense of friendly rivalry and school pride, and boosts morale and self-esteem. PE is an essential part of the curriculum that builds strong character and develops qualities in pupils which are beneficial in all subjects, as well as their lives beyond school.