Aims and purposes of PE

PE offers opportunities for students to:

  • acquire and develop skills, performing with increasing physical competence and confidence, in a range of physical activities and contexts;

  • learn how to select and apply skills, tactics and compositional ideas to suit activities that need different approaches and ways of thinking;

  • develop their ideas in a creative way;

  • set targets for themselves and compete against others, individually and as team members;understand what it takes to persevere, succeed and acknowledge others' success;

  • respond to a variety of challenges in a range of physical contexts and environments;

  • take the initiative, lead activity and focus on improving aspects of their own performance;

  • discover their own aptitudes and preferences for different activities;

  • make informed decisions about the importance of exercise in their lives;

  • develop positive attitudes to participation in physical activity..


Initially students build on their natural enthusiasm for movement, using it to explore and learn about their world. They start to play and work with other students in pairs and small groups. By watching, listening and experimenting with movement and ideas, they develop their skills in movement and their coordination, and enjoy expressing and testing themselves in a variety of situations.

Developing, students enjoy being active and using their creativity and imagination in physical activity. They learn new skills, find out how to use them in different ways, and link them to make actions, phrases and sequences of movement. They enjoy communicating, collaborating and competing with each other. They develop an understanding of how to succeed in different activities and learn how to evaluate and recognise their own success.

Developing further, students become more expert in their skills and techniques, and learn how to apply them in different activities. They start to understand what makes an effective performance and how to apply these principles to their own and others' work. They learn to take the initiative and make decisions for themselves about what to do to improve performance. They start to identify the types of activity they prefer, and take a variety of roles, such as leader and official. Students may tackle complex and demanding activities, applying their knowledge of skills, techniques and effective performance. They decide whether to get involved in physical activity that is mainly focused on competing or performing, on promoting health and wellbeing, or on developing personal fitness. They also decide on which roles suit them best including performer, coach, choreographer, leader and official. The view they have of their skilfulness and physical competence gives them the confidence to get involved in exercise and activity out of school and in later life.


  • find out what they can do as they explore a range of basic skills, actions and ideas, such as running, jumping and turning, throwing or kicking a ball and responding to music in dance;

  • learn to practise by repeating what they have done in ways that make it better, such as making movements more controlled, effective or expressive;

  • use movement imaginatively to communicate ideas and feelings;

  • watch, copy and describe what they and others have practised, to build their awareness of how to improve the way they move and play;

  • recognise that their bodies feel different when they run short or longer distances, move slowly or suddenly, and lift heavy objects or float in water;

  • learn to use space safely when they work alone and with others, showing increasing control over their movements.

  • enjoy being active, showing what they can do;

  • practise new skills across a range of activities that may include dance, gymnastics, games, swimming, athletic and outdoor and adventurous activities;

  • learn consistency by repeating their movements and linking their skills until their performance is clearer, more accurate and controlled over time;

  • pace themselves in challenges in activities such as swimming and athletic activities;

  • use their creativity in performing dances, making up their own games, planning gymnastic sequences, responding to problem-solving and challenge activities;

  • know how to improve aspects of the quality of their work, using information provided by the teacher and information and communication technology (ICT) opportunities, and increasingly help themselves and others perform effectively;

  • know why activity is important to their health and wellbeing;

  • understand the rules and conventions of taking part in different activities safely.

Building on children's earlier experiences

Students will have had the opportunity to move and play, alone and with others, in both indoor and outdoor environments. They will have had opportunities to find out and learn about their world and to develop a range of skills that promote their own physical development.

These experiences are likely to have included:

  • developing manipulative and motor skills through learning and playing:

  • experience of spatial awareness, control and coordination gained through:

  • imaginative play, for example in a play house, on a space ship;

  • games play, for example chasing and dodging games, starting and stopping, experiencing stillness, throw-and-catch games, skipping and jump-rope games, other playground games;

  • movement, for example crawling, creeping, shuffling, jumping, landing, turning, rolling, swinging, climbing;

  • mathematics, for example space and position, shape, patterns, relationships;

  • responding to sounds, music, signs, symbols and words;

  • developing an awareness of health and the importance of caring for their bodies, for example by appreciating simple hygiene, washing hands, keeping clean and tidy, wearing appropriate clothes for play, playing safely;

  • developing observation skills, for example by appreciating the work of others, working in pairs and small groups, designing and making things together, observing and describing what they see;

  • sharing, turn-taking, choosing and making decisions.

Features of progression

To ensure students make progress in PE teaching will provide opportunities for children to progress:

  • from early movement explorations to acquiring and developing a range of skills that show improved control and coordination, and then to refining and extending these skills and being able to perform them with some accuracy, consistency and fluency;

  • from the simple selection and application of skills in a series or in combination to the planning and use of more complex sequences, games strategies and compositional principles;

  • from being able to describe what they see being performed to making simple evaluations of performance and being able to use this information to improve the quality of their work;

  • from knowing that exercise makes them hot or out of breath to developing an understanding of why activity might be good for them and how important it is to their general health and wellbeing, and how different types of fitness affect their performance.

Health and safety

Teaching risk concepts to students will help them make their own decisions about risk so that they can:

  • recognise the existence of hazards, risks and uncertainty in a range of contexts;

  • assess their own ability, and the ability of others, to deal with different situations;

  • assess the consequences when dealing with hazards presented to themselves and others;

  • seek advice from appropriate sources to minimise and manage risk;

  • understand that rules and regulations follow from risk assessment and help define individual and collective responsibility.