The Outstanding PE Teacher

Screen Shot 2015-01-31 at 13.03.39Guest Post from Gareth @Coach_Teach_Gaz

The Outstanding PE Teacher

Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn”, a quote from Benjamin Franklin that has remained within my thoughts and philosophy since undertaking my undergraduate degree, and one that I stand by during teaching. Like most PE Staff I am deeply passionate about Physical Education (PE) and have being since an early age, where I was privileged to experience a broad curriculum with an inspirational teacher who took the time to build a positive relationship with me.

In 2004, the department for education released a report on ‘A guide to recognising and achieving high quality PE and sport in schools and clubs’. The report suggests there should be 10 outcomes of high quality PE within schools, which are mainly evidenced through the attitude of the pupil observed. For example, the report suggests that pupils should understand what they are trying to achieve; and how they are going to achieve it and that PE and sport are important parts of a healthy and active lifestyle. Furthermore in 2012 the coalition government released a report stating that the Olympics should provide a legacy to improve physical activity and sport across the nation and in particular within schools. In contrast to this, a recent report at the Youth Sport Trust conference suggests that the majority of pupils are not active enough within lessons and the risk of obesity is ever increasing. Contrastingly, the coalition government has just released this week a proposed increase in the theory element in examination PE leaving teachers with a conflicting opinion on what the purpose of core PE actually is within the curriculum. Is KS3 PE aimed to provide a positive experience of PE and physical activity to sustain life-long participation or is it to prepare pupils for the GCSE specification? If the latter, should we as teachers be delivering more theoretical information in the PE lessons?

It is in response to these questions, reports and research that I have formulated my current opinion surrounding what are the qualities of an outstanding PE teacher. In my opinion, PE is a fundamental tool in any child’s development; it has the capacity to teach children about fair play, commitment and patience, amongst other important life skills. Therefore, it is vital that we as PE teachers provide pupils with a broad curriculum that pupils can participate and carry forward into lifelong habits as well as learning how to maintain a healthy mind and body.

Physical Education should be active, engaging and challenging for all; where pupils are encouraged to be independent and take responsibility for their own learning and development with guidance from the teacher. In addition to a strong a teaching philosophy, I believe there are several other key strands which contribute to being an outstanding PE teacher: enthusiastic and passionate about PE and physical activity; innovative and creative in and out of the classroom; organised and, most of all, caring and understanding of pupils’ backgrounds.

In any profession I believe it is paramount that you enjoy what you are doing, but in PE it is more important to demonstrate this while teaching. I have always adopted the phrase of “If I can’t be bothered, then why should the pupils?” within my teaching as pupils need to see that you are passionate and enthusiastic about the activity they are participating in. I wonder how many teachers out there have to teach a sport that isn’t a strength of theirs and turn up looking uninspired? Natural enthusiasm can inspire the students to aspire and achieve their own personal targets as well as inspiring pupils to take part in various different activities and sports. Furthermore, I believe that conveying enthusiasm and being passionate about PE, demonstrates clearly that you care about what you are doing. When teaching PE I believe it is vital, which leads to my next point of being an outstanding teacher.

In my experience, it is important to understand each pupils’ background as it often underpins why they may or may not want to participate in PE and physical activity. For Example; in one lesson you may have a pupil who dislikes PE and another who is overweight and anxious about participating because they struggle to cope with the demands. Therefore, it is vital that the teacher has a variety of different activities and strategies to be able to enthuse and engage both of the pupils within the same lesson. In light of this, an outstanding PE teacher is continually observing and adapting to ensure pupils gain the best possible experience and education. No one PE lesson is the same because of the large amount of different variables a lesson may face: a different surface; a weather change; available equipment and the varying states of mind.

In addition to knowing your pupils, I believe it is imperative that a PE teacher plans meticulously for all eventualities to challenge and support pupils. Teachers must plan for progression through varied equipment, space and opponents to allow pupils to reach their personal best. I feel that physical education is an ideal opportunity for pupils to learn in a managed risk environment. Through this challenge, pupils are able to develop holistically and develop broader life skills such as effective communication, leadership and resilience to preserve when a challenge presents itself.

In conclusion, drawing together the research and my personal opinion from my experiences to date; I believe there is no one single explanation for what an outstanding PE teacher is, but it is a combination of several areas revolving around the knowledge and understanding of the activity and pupils attending the lesson as well as excellent planning and preparation for the lesson ahead. Furthermore I also believe high quality PE is the consistent and regular implementation of good teaching practice ensuring all pupils are challenged and supported through their individual learning journey with a positive and conducive atmosphere. Most of all it is important to develop a positive experience of the activity or sport the pupils participate in.

What in your opinion makes an outstanding teacher of PE?


If you are a Teacher of PE and you would like to write a Guest Blog on Drowningintheshallow, then please contact me on Twitter @ImSporticus or email


4 thoughts on “The Outstanding PE Teacher

  1. For you then what is the aim for key stage 3 core p.e., I’m currently in my pgce year and my two schools have had contrasting approaches. The first one was more about quaility physical education trying to give students a broad range of activities whereas my second placement is assessed through gcse at year 7 and students are being given levels 4 as if they were being assessed there and then. I do appreciate that some theoretical knowledge is valid and for some groups increases the challenge in core p.e. but it is a fine line. The assessment for me is also dangerous as it can lead to dis engagement in key stage 4 for those who haven’t taken gcse or Btec.


    1. Ian,

      A you make very valid points. For me ks3 core PE is about providing a positive experience of PE and Sport for all pupils through a broad range of activities. The issue is that even in the new era of ‘life without levels’ teachers have to show progress, now for some this is pupils comments on a variety of different formats. For others it is utilising the current practical GCSE spec and the performance indicators they use in a watered down system, which actually can be beneficial as pupils know where they are in relation to the GCSE specification and it isn’t a grade, it is a performance indicator of a personal best.

      The beauty of the matter is that there is no justfied one ‘right’ way as so many changes have just arrived, so it’s a case of believing what you believe is right and listening to others opinions to develop your idea from there.





  2. Thanks for the reply, Gareth. I would agree it is ultimately about finding what benefits the students as a whole and an approach that you support. I definitely feel it is important to approach every sport with enthusiasm, I thinks this is something totally abnormal to most teachers of classroom subjects. Many p.e. teachers deliver sports which are completely out of their comfort zone, for example dance. Nevertheless it is vital that we promote this opportunity to offer value for the students.

    In regards to refusers of p.e. how should you approach such an issue, as I have found the liberties given to one is often interpreted as unfair by others who don’t refuse but would rather not be doing p.e. which then leads to an uncomfortable battle.



  3. I found this blog really interesting and inspiring! Particularly the part when you talk about teaching an activity that you are weak in and turn up uninspired which then affects the students! As an NQT I did a study about exactly this with the aim of finding out if it was evident to my pupils that this was a weak area of mine and that I really had no enthusiasm to teach it! The results were scary… Of course it was evident and actually the pupils can read us as teachers very well indeed! Needless to say now I ensure I am enthusiastic about my lessons and motivate my pupils regardless of what activity I teach!


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