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I’m Having To Cover PE, What Do I Do?

With staff shortages due to the Omicron variant of Covid-19 absolutely rife in schools and education settings already this term, staff members may be expected to cover subjects they usually would be less than comfortable delivering. PE is normally top of the list of these subjects. So how can we support those members of staff who may be reluctant to teach PE? 

If possible, provide them with clear planning to follow. If they have never delivered PE before, then they certainly won’t know where to begin without a clear starting point. Make sure the planning is written in a way that is easy to access. This means the activities are easy to understand by someone who may never have played them before. If extensive planning isn’t an option, then a simple breakdown of each section of the lesson, with clear instructions will work just as effectively. 

A lot of the time, people are apprehensive about teaching PE because they think it requires them to be absolute experts in the sports they teach. Remind them this isn’t the case and that as long as they follow a structure like they would for any other subject then it will be a success. An example of this for PE would be starting the session with a recap of pre-learning, followed by introducing a new skill and then applying it to a game. 

Where possible, it helps if the topic of choice is something the person delivering it is at least semi-comfortable with. This may require some swapping around of the Long Term Plan, but as (hopefully) this is only a temporary measure whilst staffing issues get resolved, then it could be worth it to ensure high-quality PE delivery continues.

Use the children to help! Generally pupils love PE and enjoy showing off their knowledge and expertise. Using your Sport Council (or equivalent) as mini-teaching assistants could be a lifesaver for those staff members who are less-confident with the subject. Even simply utilising these children for skill demonstrations can alleviate some expected pressure from teachers worried about feeling silly in front of their class. 

Finally, cut everyone some slack, including yourself. Things aren’t going to be ideal at the moment. There may be a drop in skill and knowledge acquisition across the board, there may be more behaviour issues and there may be staff delivering subjects they really don’t want to, but we are living through unprecedented times. So be kind to yourself…and others!

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