Sport in school: What will the new curriculum bring?

Nobody can deny the educational benefits of children doing sport, but what sport do your children actually get to do at school? How often do they have PE lessons, what do these involve and what about the changes to the National Curriculum?

Changes and improvements are often seen in a number of areas of a child’s schooling when they take up sport. Young people learn about the importance of key values such as: honesty, teamwork, fair play, respect for themselves and others, and adherence to rules. Sport-based programmes have been shown to improve the learning performance of children and young people, encouraging school attendance and a desire to succeed academically.

The Culture and Sport Evidence programme, led by the Department for Culture Media and Sport, has studied published evidence on the varied benefits of sport.It was found that young people’s participation in sport improves their numeracy scores by 8% on average above non-participants. Also underachieving young people who take part in sport see a 29% increase in numeracy skills and a 12 to 16% rise in other transferable skills.

Sport helps children form friendships, something that is crucial to their development in education and also their desire to attend school. Friendships formed through sport give children a common bond and these friendships often last a lifetime. There is also evidence to support the view that skills learnt through sport, such as catching, throwing and hand-eye coordination all help develop children’s motor skills-aiding their writing ability.

If children don’t learn to jump, run, throw or catch it has a serious impact

In September 2014 a number of changes will be introduced to the national curriculum, including what is taught in P.E lessons. For 5-7 year old’s they must master basic movements (run, jump, throw, catch etc), and they will be introduced to team games. From age 5-11 there are requirements for every child to be able to swim 25 metres, perform a range of strokes and also to know lifesaving techniques. For 7-11 year olds competitive games such as football, netball, rounders, cricket, hockey, badminton and tennis will be introduced and developed.

From the age of 11-14 physical education will be ‘stepped up’ with analysis of previous performances and discussions about how they can improve. Children will also be encouraged to take part in competitive sport outside school, through clubs or academy programmes.
There will no longer be references to creativity and theory in P.E, and the changes come after a number of Ofsted reports expressed concern that not enough strenuous physical activity was happening in schools, and only a minority of schools played competitive sport at high level. There are plans to send in specialist physical education teachers to a number of primary schools in England to give pupils advanced exercise sessions, healthy living advice and more competitive sport.

Ofsted warned in a report last year that a third of state primaries were failing to provide good lessons, with no warm-up sessions, little strenuous exercise and able athletes ignored. Existing primary teachers get just six hours training in PE, it was claimed. Baroness Sue Campbell, chairman of the Youth Sport Trust said that better physical education for children would have positive benefits on other areas of children’s education.

“Many teachers talk about children not being able to hold a pen these days, which is all about fine motor skills,” she said. “If children don’t learn to jump, run, throw or catch it has a serious impact.” she said.

Primary schools in England will also be the beneficiaries of an extra £150m sports specific funding per year. The Primary PE and Sport Premium has allocated the £150m pot for primary schools to share until 2020. It is hoped this money can be put towards employing specialist PE teachers to help raise the standard of physical education in schools, with the aim being to encourage a more competitive sporting environment within P.E lessons to encourage children to play regular sport from a young age, in the hope they will continue this on throughout their teenage years.

Download more information on the new national curriculum.


  1. Gwyn Harvey

    Under the Equality Act 2010 Section 195 Para.4 makes it crystal clear that school children are not included in the exemption for sport which allows discriminate by gender. Yet no mention of this in the National Curriculum with schools segregating the genders for sport. Ofsted are still in a state of denial and are complicit in the unlawful discrimination of schoolgirls. Appalling!

    June 27, 2014 - Reply
    • Emma le Fleming

      Why does segregation by gender mean inequality? Excellence for each gender is the most important thing which SOMETIMES means that teaching boys and girls separately is relevant and maximises outcomes in terms of enjoyment, confidence, participation and excellent performance? The worst model is to water down the experience, do everything half heatedly in order to tick an equality box. That was the model that failed in the 90’s in many schools.

      July 5, 2014 - Reply

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