Working towards Outstanding PE

Many PE teachers will teach roughly 22 sessions a week amassing approximately 858 lessons over the course of a school year with sometimes as little as 3 being observed.

With such a sheer volume of lessons how can we be expected to deliver ‘outstanding lessons’ over and over again?

Earlier in my career I used to go all out during observations – all dancing and all singing until I realised that actually this told me very little about my teaching. Now I just carry on completely as normal and instead try to work towards outstanding in all lessons. – the key words being ‘working towards.’ – I simply do not believe that I have ever seen or have ever taught a truly outstanding lesson simply because when I review it I always feel that their are elements that can objectively be improved for the learner.

I actually now really enjoy the process of observation – something I used to dread. The opportunity for fresh eyes to look at what I do and to have the opportunity to discuss with them and to try out new ideas helps keep me fresh and motivated.

So how do you work towards delivering ‘Outstanding lessons’ consistently? – Well there are no easy answers but through observing others and reviewing and preparing my own sessions I started to come up with what I think are some key ingredients.


So to continue on the ‘Key ingredients’ theme – a lesson that is working towards outstanding should be like a great cake –


(A Carrot Cake is definitely a Great Cake! (in moderation of course!))

– for it to be great there are certain ingredients that you really need to include. Just to complicate things further those ingredients can change and the amount can vary depending on which group your working with!

I essentially developed a personal check-list – once I have planned my session I check through – are the ingredients in the mix?

So here is my Check-list:

Organised – are things set up and ready, is equipment prepared? Supporting resources?

Recapping – A clear link with prior learning and transfer of knowledge

Fundamental Movements – skills are referenced, reinforced and identified within session. Different directions of travel.

Clear Objectives

 For example

  • Lesson objective
  • Character development objective (Links to whole school)
  • A thinking objective

These can be delivered in classroom so students have time to know ahead of the lesson what they are doing and can have thinking and processing time.

Leadership opportunities – such as PE helpers who help to set up or assist with transitions/take warm ups/lead sections of session

Scaffolding – Such as use of ‘I can’ statements for scaffolding for demonstrations

Progressive activities – Logical progression and building during lesson

Invisible behaviour management – Well practised routines and protocols

Health and Safety – facilities, layouts, equipment and management of group and activity

Linking – Cross curricular links and growth of whole child (Character)

Sustained activity time – Sustained periods of physical activity

Open Tasks and Accessibility – Inclusion of open tasks allowing for differentiation and creativity

Concise teacher talk time – Quick clear group instructions and individual feedback

Differentiation – Different tasks for different groups so stage appropriate (similar to table work in literacy and numeracy)

Engagement – and behaviour management allows flow and fluency in lesson. Students are interested and enjoying their learning. Does it have context?

Use of others and resources – Use of other adults such as Teaching Assistants actively contributing and role modelling within sessions. Use of ICT to support learning, Equipment suitable for learners?

Questioning and Feedback – Use of questions and feedback plus opportunities to respond to feedback.

Achievement –Students are set targets and achieve, they are knowledgeable about their performances

Then once the lesson is complete I do a quick check again – were any ingredients missing? were there any that I needed to include more?

By doing this check before and after each session it allows me to work towards that goal of outstanding – not in one off lessons but as a matter of course. The check-list is quick and becomes part of habit. Involving a check list in your teaching also allows you to be less emotional about a lesson and more objectionable – when I have had a rubbish lesson I can look through and find what is was that was missing or find the thing that I did not do enough of. It gives me the confidence that I can find the answer.

Does it mean outstanding lessons all the time? – No of course not but it has personally helped me to keep improving upon my work in the hope that I am not standing still and that I am in fact working my way towards ‘Outstanding PE.’

For me the lesson to lesson teaching of PE and the quality of it – if we can raise it as high as we can then more and more students develop that life long love of it.

Please find below a printable check-list that I hope you might find of help.

What does an outstanding PE Lesson look like

If you have any other magic ‘ingredients’ please let me know – I’ve never yet tasted the perfect cake – but am willing to keep trying! (In moderation of course!)

By Kevin Peake

Founder of PESA; The PE and Sports Assessment Tool

Get it on Google Play





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