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Tips for COVID-friendly PE and physical activity

By Premier League Primary Stars · Wed 09 September 2020

Glenn Short, the Premier League Primary Stars coordinator at Leicester City in the Community, teaches PE and physical activity in local schools. Here’s how he has been adapting his lessons to keep pupils safe.

Glenn says: As teachers and coaches in this current climate, we can still achieve our usual learning outcomes for PE by thinking creatively and applying some simple principles.

PE can still be an enjoyable and fulfilling experience for pupils if we remember to reduce the risk, put measures in place and remind them of the rules. 

Here are 5 tips to make your sessions COVID-friendly:

Tip 1- Establish rules 

Introduce rules to the pupils at the start of PE lessons to support Government guidance on respiratory hygiene and hand washing. 

Some rules you could introduce are: 

Keep your distance - keep apart from one another, where possible.

Only use the equipment you are given - any equipment used, keep to yourself and do not use anyone else’s.

Wash your hands - before and after the lesson. 

Catch it, Bin it, Kill it! - maintain respiratory hygiene. 

Always stay safe - by following instructions. 

Put your hand up if you need assistance - don’t run over to get the teacher’s attention - stand patiently with your hand up.

Tip 2 - Maintain distance and plan for limited equipment  

Plan activities that allow for social distancing and limited shared contact with equipment. For example, work on individual activities and isolated movements you find in athletics and dance. 

In our sessions with schools, we do use equipment, but we keep this limited with all equipment being sanitised pre and post lessons. 

A good way of using the equipment is ensuring each pupil has their own or, if not practical, small groups should use the same equipment throughout the lesson.

Remember that pupils will touch the equipment with their hands as a natural reaction. Focus on reducing the chance by putting measures in place and reminding them regularly.

Tip 3 - Keep pupils engaged by allowing them to compete against themselves

A great way of keeping the pupils engaged is through self-assessment and competing against themselves to achieve personal bests.

You could spend three lessons on the same activity in athletics and track pupil progress. For example, you might want the pupils to practice the standing long jump. This is where pupils stand at one cone and then try to jump as far as they can. This could then lead to a socially distant jump-off against other pupils. 

Pupils can still work together: it’s all in the planning! With individual activities, you can peer assess from a distance. Pupils can have a checklist to refer to when they are observing their partner. 

Tip 4 - Review lesson objectives in the classroom

Maintaining a social distance during a PE lesson is difficult as pupils often link PE to play as they are being physically active. This is also where they expect to be running around and being competitive with their friends. 

PE is like any other lesson and I feel it is imperative that the pupils know what they are learning and the steps they need to take to work towards the goal of the lesson. One idea is to discuss the learning outcomes of the lesson prior to the  activity starting and include a visual aid on the board of where you would like them to stand. 

Be clear and concise about when they will be working on their own and when they will be working with a partner.

Tip 5 - Use several different stations to keep pupils engaged, and manage the area

This also allows you to break the skill up into several different parts. This will also help the pupils to identify where they need to stand.

If you place small groups in zones, you can still relate your teaching to the curriculum such as; developing simple tactics or applying basic principles for attacking and defending. You can support your teaching with the use of a visual aid and demonstrate what the activity looks like.

You can reduce the equipment required for activities by using stations, so pupils are not all doing activities at the same time.

For more great physical activity ideas from a range of football clubs, check out our brand new COVID friendly physical activities