Hampshire schools adapt PE during COVID-19

Date: 4 March 2021   Author: Energise Me

Adapted PE during COVID


When schools returned in September 2020, many wondered how PE, Physical Activity and School Sport would be able to continue. Changing, using shared equipment, inside space at a premium, pupils’ loss of fitness and muscle tone and maintaining social distancing were all challenges that PE Leads had to deal with. There was a need to find solutions and take their teaching colleagues on a journey back to the new normal.

But as we know PE Leads have such a passion for their subject. They didn’t let these things become insurmountable. Everyone worked to find solutions that were right for their school and pupils.  Now as we head out of a third lockdown we’ve been talking to some teachers who have made changes. They continue to strive to ensure everyone will be active on their return to school, some of which may well stay beyond COVID.


COVID safe equipment

Ensuring their PE lessons were delivered as near to the curriculum as possible was key for Lyndsay Bennet at Wellow Primary School. With most pupils missing 6 months of curriculum PE she was keen to hit the ground running on returning in September. She had spent the summer sorting through all the schools plastic PE equipment. Pulling together COVID friendly PE boxes. These were complete with resource cards, health and safety guidance and ideas to simplify or extend the activity.

These boxes had clip lids and were watertight so that following a PE lesson Milton Liquid could be poured in and the equipment sterilized. A process that took just 30 minutes and didn’t require rinsing. These PE boxes then would be rotated around the classrooms and safely shared across the school.

Adapted PE during COVID

Emotional support through yoga

Re-engaging pupils, who had on the whole been less active during the summer lockdown, was a top priority for Callum Wright from Hiltingbury Junior School. He wanted his pupils to fall back in love with physical activity and PE.  And to see the benefits.

On returning to school, it was apparent that their normally large extra-curricular offer wasn’t going to be possible. But they still worked to ensure that every pupil had the chance at least once a week to do 1 activity.

At Hiltingbury they also switched around their curriculum program to put in place PE lessons that helped maintain social distancing and limited equipment. For example, in the Autumn term, they did Orienteering rather than Tag Rugby. Saving that for later in the year, when hopefully there is less of a need to socially distance.

Callum also introduced new activity into the school. Having noticed that there was a cohort of pupils who would not only benefit from a physical activity intervention but also some emotional support. He brought in a Yoga teacher, with great success.  As a result of this small group activity, he then started implementing it across all year groups. During the most recent lockdown he has done weekly online Yoga for all classes at home and in the classroom. An activity he feels will continue even after Covid is suppressed.


Re-engaging Pupils and getting the buzz back

Despite the challenges, Wellow Primary School proved it was still possible to engage with community clubs. They managed to put on a Multi-Sports Taster day in the Autumn term. This included support from external coaches. It required careful planning but the day showed it was still possible to deliver a rich and diverse curriculum. It also continued opportunities to form those all-important club links at the same time. At the end of the day, the children were all buzzing and eager to get back to activity.

Adapted PE during COVID


Active throughout the day

As with many schools during Covid, when pupils returned to Hamble Primary School they came to school on their PE days already changed into their PE kit. Rianna Leonard the PE Coordinator thinks this is something they may well continue to do in the future. This is because it allows time to do more PE activity and less time doing up buttons and searching for socks!

The school felt it was really important to encourage pupils to be active throughout the day to help rebuild confidence and social skills and simply play. They introduced Playground Games Assemblies. During these classes were introduced to games like ‘What’s the Time Mr Wolf’.

Lower down the year groups they also notice pupils had really missed out on the fine motor-skills development. As a result, some pupils were struggling to do basic PE and sports activities.  As a result, intervention groups were put in place to support these pupils.

The school felt that it was important that the pupils didn’t lose these skills during the most recent lockdown. Every pupil at Hamble Primary was sent home with a bag of equipment and activity cards to encourage more activity during home learning.


Supporting each other

Across all the schools, support from senior management has been incredibly valuable.  Having the autonomy to make changes and to implement these across the school has been key.

Even during the difficult times, the extra hassle, greater planning and thinking required all three of these PE leads have had fantastic support of their colleagues in making changes. Helping to not only improve physical fitness and core skills but also the wider aspects of returning to normality, better mental health and social interaction with their peers.

Sharing ideas, thoughts, solutions and interventions across the PE lead network has been really important during these last 12 months. The clear message from all three of these PE leads is talking and sharing is a great way to support each other and in turn, help their own pupils be more active.


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