Belonging in PE: Embracing Gender Diversity

Providing PE practitioners and curriculum leaders with the confidence to build a better offer for all students.

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Course Overview

This course is the first in our ‘belonging in PE series’ aimed at supporting physical educators with embracing gender diversity. It will take you approximately 3-5 hours to complete.

There are a growing number of transgender and gender diverse (TGD) students in schools. Many schools are receiving whole-school training to support TGD students. However, the frequency and quality of this training varies from school to school and PE Departments face unique challenges, in what can be a very sensitive issue. TGD students experience high rates of common mental health conditions (such as depression and anxiety) along with suicidality.

This course starts with an informative section that aims to support PE practitioners to better understand the issues surrounding the trans (and wider LGBTQ+) community. Following a discussion of various research that validates the need to support this vulnerable group, the course is split into five sections that challenge participants to reflect on various aspects of PE provision through the lens of a young person with gender dysphoria and provide a range of practical and sometimes simple measures to support TGD students to feel genuinely safe and valued in PE.

The 5 A’s of allyship that provide the structure to the course are:

  • Awareness – about the LGBTQ+ community.
  • Advocacy – being seen as a safe person and place for students to be who they are without judgement.
  • Adjustments – to our language and environment that can be made so that we are more inclusive and less binary.
  • Activities – that are gender-neutral, avoiding stipulations that students take part in particular activities based on their gender.
  • Acceptance – of all students and who they are; celebrating the LGBTQ+ community that is seen in a positive and inclusive way.

The course brings ideas from research and practice to life through a rich variety of video clips, blog articles, low stakes quizzes and tasks. It is perfect for primary school PE subject leaders or secondary PE practitioners who want to proactively consider and improve their provision to support transgender students.

You can complete the 5 sections (lessons) in bite-sized chunks or all in one go with anytime anywhere access via our website.

You will be able to see the ideas and contributions of other participants via discussion threads along the way. You will also be invited to join the next live 60 minute Zoom meeting that will bring together others who have recently completed the online materials to collaborate, reflect on learning and ask questions of the course instructors. Our intention is to run one of these each year. We will share the next available date and time with you once booked on the course.

Each lesson is fully asynchronous, meaning you can log on whenever you want to complete the content. On completion you will be awarded a certificate for your professional development records.


Delivered by award-winning physical education experts from some of the UK’s leading universities.

Simon Scarborough

During the 20 years that Simon has been working in schools, he has developed a depth of experience in the classroom (sportshall, gym, sports field…), as a middle leader, senior leader, Initial Teacher Training tutor, a Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo) and as a specialist leader in Education (SLE). Throughout this time, two common themes remained; Physical Education (PE) and a passion for the inclusion of all students.

From early on in his career, Simon was prepared to challenge the status quo; looking at PE through the lens of all children, not just those that love sport. Six years of senior leadership, between 2012 and 2018, allowed him to develop his leadership skills in a role that had curriculum, pastoral and teaching & learning responsibilities. Periods of time as Vice Principal and having the role of SLE in PE within a large Multi-Academy-Trust enabled Simon to develop as a strategic leader, whilst at the same time keeping his skills sharp at the rock face. At this point, Executive leaders and national educational organisations started to invite Simon to speak at conferences and support schools with bespoke training. Areas of specialism included delivering Outstanding PE, supporting vulnerable students, emotional intelligence, behaviour management and quality first teaching.

In 2016 Simon took on a new leadership challenge which involved gaining Masters credits in inclusive education and vulnerable learners as part of achieving the National SENCo award. In his wider role, Simon had responsibility for all vulnerable groups in a large secondary school. A return to a Head of PE role in 2018 has enabled Simon to utilise his leadership experience to use the power of PE to improve the life chances of all children in his care. In 2022, Simon joined the PE Scholar team as an Education Consultant, whilst continuing to work in schools.
Simon has enjoyed a career that enabled him to support some of society’s most vulnerable children and their families, through his strategic leadership roles and also each and every day as a practitioner in schools. He has inspired thousands of children, many of whom with Special Educational Needs or from disadvantaged backgrounds, to develop the confidence and skills to lead a physically active and fulfilled life.

PE Scholar - Will Swaithes

Will Swaithes

Will Swaithes is an experienced teacher, teacher educator and leader of teaching and learning. With over 20 years’ experience in education, he is currently a Senior Lecturer in Physical Education at Birmingham City University leading the secondary PGCE programme whilst also contributing to Initial Teacher Education at several other institutions including Loughborough and Buckingham universities. Will is Education Director at PE Scholar, a Specialist Leader of Education (SLE) for Redhill Academy, previous Head of Physical Education and Achievement for Youth Sport Trust (YST), previous Assistant Head for Teaching and Learning and author of an OCR GCSE PE textbook. He achieved Advanced Skills Teacher (AST) status in 2006 and also holds a Masters in Educational Leadership. Will has a reputation for high-quality consultancy services, mentoring support and training with an ambition to ensure PE stands for Positive Experiences for all children in all schools.

The intention of this short course is to provide PE practitioners and curriculum leaders with the confidence to build a better offer for all students in their context.

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Course Includes

  • 5 Lessons
  • 16 Tasks
  • 1 Quiz
  • Course Certificate
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