Virgin Active to Inspire More Children To Love PE

Virgin Active, working with the University of Bedfordshire have created a new programme called the Playmakers programme.

A one year pilot has just ended involving 30 primary schools and 7,500 pupils across the UK. The objective has been to move away from the traditional teaching of PE in schools - winners, losers, who’s best at PE and who isn’t - to focus more on what they call ‘harnessing the imagination’ and ensuring that children have core movement skills.

The Challenge

The problem that playmakers was trying to solve was that unless children have a positive experience of PE in primary school they simply won’t continue being active or playing sport when they are older. So these early formative years are so important. So the need is to make PE lessons in primary school fun and imaginative. But an added problem was that primary school teachers who take PE are inadequately trained. Only 6 hours of PE training is given during teacher training to become a primary teacher. So it is no surprise that many teachers reported that they did not feel equipped to take PE lessons.

The Objectives

This initiative aimed to look at teacher training and engaging all children of whatever physical ability with a love of PE. In addition, the aim was to introduce a programme that could be easily replicated across schools.

What Does The Playmakers sessions Involve?

Children are encouraged to use their imaginations to design their own session such as dancing like animals or working through circuits whilst being that animal. The emphasis is on fun and total inclusion as opposed to what you can or cannot do physically.

Results from the Trial

Feedback has been very positive, with children enthused from learning PE in a more imaginative way and encouraging movement for children who may have done little sport or PE before they go to school.

 In fact the latest statistics show that more than a third of children say they dislike being physically active when they leave primary school. The deduction is that they will then be physically inactive in secondary school and then into adulthood, raising the risk of obesity and health issues in the future.

Robert Cook, Virgin Actives UK Managing Director said, The results of our programme show what is possible when teachers are given the tools to facilitate new ways of teaching PE.

“Harnessing the imagination of kids and getting them moving is something we do in our clubs every day.

“By applying this in the school environment and transforming PE lessons into fun and entertaining games, we can ensure future generations love being active and help turn the tide against rising levels of obesity.”

What Were the Findings?

The main findings of the trail were as follows

  • Those teachers involved in the trail said that they were more confident in delivering PE. 300 teachers in total went through the programme.
  • 7,500 pupils experienced the programme and received 2 hours of PE each week.
  • The programme allowed other aspects of the curriculum to be introduced into the PE sessions, including literacy, numeracy and science.
  • In feedback children did not feel they were being assessed on ability which many had found off-putting before. The vast majority of children in the programme reported a great interest in PE and a feeling that they wanted to be involved.

The Future

The Government continues to call for schools to devote more time to PE and in 2017-18 schools will be required to deliver at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day. But as this initiative suggests it is what happens within the 30 minutes that is key to developing a lifetime’s love of fitness and activity.