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Creating your Core Values in PE

Martin Radmore, director of VisionED, shares his advice for creating your own core values and direction for PE teaching.

Posted on Friday 21st April 2023

 “Core values are a central belief clearly understood and shared by every member of the school community.”

I often start by asking PE subject leaders these 3 questions:

  • What do pupils in your school need and how will this be embedded in a planned, progressive curriculum that supports the school’s core values?
  • Which unique aspects of PE do you feel are important within your school’s context?
  • Do you have a broad, rich and well-sequenced curriculum which is ambitious for ALL?

Clarity is essential in achieving high-quality PE provision for all

For me, this is like a jigsaw puzzle. You need the picture on the lid of what you are trying to achieve before you can plan the detail. In many ways the school’s core values and vision are the corner pieces of the puzzle. We place these first and that can, along with the context, help to influence our choice of PE content and sequencing.

It’s why our company’s logo is the jigsaw piece – supporting schools to build their ‘picture’ piece by piece.

What is the benefit of starting with the schools core values?

Starting with your school’s core values helps staff to understand how the PE curriculum map has been informed. It will help them to articulate how the learning fits into the sequence, builds upon prior work, and how it relates to progression, key vocabulary, and assessment. It will also help them believe in how the school’s core values are supported through the PE curriculum offer.

Sharing your core values for PE

Schools should, in my opinion, have a PE (PESSPA) Policy or statement which provides the strategic direction and core values. It should specify how PE will be taught, the nature of the content and the provision. Not all schools have individual subject policies, but however it is done, subject leaders will need to look at embedding the school’s core values into their PE Policy, or Intent, Implementation and Impact Statement for example.

It is then important to communicate the overall Vision & Intent for PE at the school, clarifying its impact and outcomes. In effect, setting out what the PE Core Offer for ALL will be to deliver the desired outcomes.

How do we implement the core values?

The PE subject leader needs to be clear what the school intends to offer, as well as ways they plan to enrich its curriculum. These could include such things as educational visits, extra-curricular provision, competition, leadership & specific entitlements.

For example, one school may specific:

All pupils will:

  • receive 2 hours a week PE as an entitlement.
  • have the opportunity to take part in Intra & Inter school sport competitions.
  • have a residential OAA experience.

So, think about what will this look like for your school? What will you offer to enrich your curriculum and how will you support all pupils’ needs?

When answering these questions, remember to consider your pupils, their community and the school’s aims and aspirations for the pupils.

Non-negotiables for PE

In setting out the ‘how’ (implementation), I talk about ‘non-negotiables’. These are those things which you believe passionately will enrich, enhance and extend pupils’ experiences of PE.

A school based example:

At a school recently, they considered what they wanted for pupils – ‘to boost resilience, teamwork, perseverance, collaboration & communication skills, independence, to enrich their lives’. They believed that Outdoor Adventurous Activities (OAA) had a significant role to play.

This school had extensive grounds and proximity to community facilities for sailing, canoeing and water-sports. PE linked well with science, geography and history so staff were keen to collaborate using OAA and educational visits to support not just PE but geography, history and the science curriculums. A great example of context and curriculum working together.

They mapped out a progressive pathway which they felt would meet the intent, creating their ‘non-negotiable’ framework.

Our ‘non-negotiables’ for our pupils’ OAA provision:

  • Pupils in Year 3 will be introduced to OAA culminating in a one-night camp on school grounds.
  • Year 4 will build upon this through off-site activities – canoeing, sailing, archery culminating in a three-day residential at our local outdoor centre.
  • Year 5 will be offered the opportunity to take a sailing qualification, learning how to sail or canoe. Work on-site will include archery, orienteering culminating in a visit to an orienteering course.
  • Year 6 will work on-site with progressively more challenging problem-solving tasks, team building as well as archery, orienteering. They will have the opportunity to further their competencies in sailing, canoeing and windsurfing with the local outdoor centre. Their experience of OAA will culminate in a 5-day residential in a remote environment.’

We then created this simple statement (below) to include in their PE policy’s Implementation section:

All pupils will follow a coherently planned and progressive experience of Outdoor Adventurous Activities (OAA) which will include off-site visits, an over-night camp, learning new life-skills and gaining qualifications in outdoor activities, progressing to a week-long residential.

 So, what will be your PE ‘non-negotiables’?

Take some time to talk about and decide together about your own non-negotiables. Consider what will help to underpin your core offer and deliver the very best coherent, ambitious, broad and rich curriculum for ALL your pupils. It can support your intent with some specifics which can then be embedded into your skills progressions, long-term, medium term and even short-term planning.

When done collaboratively, this will help to ensure leaders, teachers and even the pupils can articulate not only the unique contribution of PE but the way in which the curriculum is constructed and its content and sequencing.

Always remember, the focus should be on what you feel is right for your pupils, which takes account of their community and is ambitious and aspirational for their growth!

Many thanks to Martin Radmore for sharing is many years of insight within this blog.

Martin Radmore is the Director at VisionEd – The Primary PE Experts

VisionED is all about curricular PE provision and ensuring that ALL pupils receive a high-quality experience and entitlement in physical education that inspires them to learn and be active throughout their lives. It’s our ‘Big Picture’ and why we use the jigsaw piece as we help you to build your Vision, your Big Picture for what PE will be. We do this by empowering staff and schools to sustain high quality provision through CPD, professional qualifications, guidance and support. We work to ensure PE is lead by well-informed, trained and empowered subject leaders who have access to high-quality professional development, including national qualifications in primary PE for themselves and their colleagues. Take a look at our offer, download free resources or book your CPD at

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