A year ago, Sport and PE teachers up and down the country were desperately seeking ways to engage children in PA during the first, and previously unprecedented, period of remote teaching. It was no different here at Gateway School and it quickly became apparent that we were not the only ones trying to keep our children active. Parents were also getting in on the act and as I glanced out of my living room window, and also at my social media feeds, it was clear that PA was prominent in lockdown lifestyles. Daily bike rides, gyms in garages, creative garden games and online workouts; what we were witnessing was PA in some of its purest guises.
This was a sight to behold when considering that our overarching aim as physical educators is to prepare our students for lifelong participation in PA. However, some of the terminology suggesting that these initiatives were an adequate substitute for PE did ruffle a few feathers. It highlighted common misconceptions around the complexity of the subject and its importance in the holistic development of young people by insinuating that the role of the PE teacher is simply to exercise their pupils. Whilst online fitness training can be a useful tool in getting people active, it could only ever make up the tiniest fraction of an effective PE programme. As well as physical development, our programmes should also be rich in opportunities for children to develop relationships, solve problems, understand their own capabilities and build resilience when faced with setbacks.
At Gateway, we are constantly striving to create positive learning environments that encompass as many of these areas of development as possible, regardless of the activity on offer. The lockdown periods have highlighted that opportunities to participate in PA are plentiful in the world around us but we must not lose sight of the importance of PE as the primary platform to educate our children and equip them with the tools required for a physically active lifestyle beyond their time in school.