Adventurous activities should form a key part of schools’ PE offering to pupils, Ofsted has said.
In Ofsted’s report into the state of PE in English schools which was published recently, the regulator said that pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) can be more effectively supported if schools offer a broader physical education (PE) curriculum.
It called for schools to create “an ambitious curriculum” for PE and further support SEND pupils by ensuring “staff are well trained to provide precise support in different sports so that all pupils can meet clear and ambitious end points”.
Outdoor adventurous activities “are either not taught effectively or not taught at all”, they found. Schools focused instead on traditional sports, with almost all schools visited offering football.
Schools’ focus on team sports means “other sports are often given significantly less curriculum time and content is rarely revisited over time”.
It recommends schools broaden activities to include outdoor adventure sessions.
One school that is already seeing the benefits of offering adventurous activities as part of its PE curriculum is the outstanding-rated New Ways School in Kings Norton, Birmingham.
Headteacher Michelle Woodward said: “Our group of Year 11 and 12 students go to a Peak adventurous activities facility every week and are working towards qualifications including AQAs. They are also working towards a Duke of Edinburgh Award and they have the opportunity to complete their residential there too. This is beneficial for our young people because they will be in a familiar environment and with a familiar team supporting them while they are there.
“They’re taking part in watersports including kayaking, they’ve been mountain biking, axe throwing, learning bushcraft skills, and much, much more!
“As well as the physical activity and being out in the fresh air, these activities are excellent for exposing our young people to new experiences and to working as a team – both of which are vitally important as they move forward in life. Some of our young people are from inner city Birmingham and will never have seen a deer or birds other than pigeons!
“This builds their resilience up in so many ways, as well as confidence.
“The children love it and that shows in attendance, which is excellent.
“The working relationship between Peak and the school is excellent, with lots of two-way communication. It’s also been really beneficial for the staff team too who are developing their skills and overcoming their own challenges by taking part in the adventurous activities too.
“The other benefit is that just taking part in these activities together helps build relationships and bonds, it helps the staff team and the young people connect over a shared experience. They’ve shared some challenges together and bonded more closely as a result.
“I’d highly recommend adding adventurous activities to any school’s PE curriculum!”