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UKPE Cross-border Learning and Innovation Collaborative

UKPE Cross-border Learning and Innovation Collaborative

Making space for interdisciplinary research, dialogue, and collaboration in Physical Education and Health and Wellbeing

Reflecting on how PE can meet the needs of all learners – blog by PE teacher Lindsey Gassner

In this second blog of the series, Lindsey Gassner – a Scottish PE teacher teaching in England, reflects on how her curriculum might have to change to meet the needs of all learners.

Reflecting on how PE can meet the needs of all learners

My name is Lindsey Gassner and I am a PE teacher in a school in an Academy Trust in the South of England. I graduated almost 10 years ago from a university in Scotland, having taught there for five years before moving South of the border. Even though I have some knowledge of PE in both Scotland and England, I was keen to attend the UKPE cross-border workshops to know more about PE in the other UK contexts. I was particularly interested to learn how colleagues were overcoming curriculum challenges, and to use this learning to work out if we could improve things further within my own school.

Although I teach what might be described as a fairly traditional curriculum – and I do value ‘performance’ in PE – I also believe that young people can learn multiple skills and develop wider capacities through our movement-based subject.  These skills and capacities can include communication, teamwork, determination, resilience and perseverance and can support young people both in school and in real-life. Importantly, all learners should enjoy this learning. This means that PE can look and feel different for different learners, providing them with opportunities to build on their own unique strengths. This, however, can be very difficult to do, restricted by timetabling, year grouping, staffing, space and the expectation by some that all pupils should learn the same activity and the same content knowledge.

From engaging in the UKPE cross-border workshops, it does seem that those within other contexts (for example, in Wales) are beginning to reflect and act upon how PE curriculum and pedagogy might change to meet the needs of all learners. In fact, listening to the other teachers during the workshop made me feel really proud that PE teachers across a whole variety of contexts are working hard to ensure that all of their pupils feel a sense of belonging, success and achievement in PE.

This reflection and curriculum re-design, and meeting the needs of all learners, are extremely important for the future of PE. In my context, a useful starting point to initiate change for the future would be to begin to break down stereotypes in PE, for example, gender stereotypes that suggest girls should do dance and netball and boys should do football and rugby. Even though I come from a strong sport and performance culture, I am beginning to realise that to break down such barriers we may also need to embrace alternative activities within the curriculum. Personally, I’d like to see more outdoor learning within the PE curriculum – this is a great context for learning through the body, building strengths and challenging stereotypes.

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