It’s a wrap: the 2020/21 academic year draws to a close


Round Up

As I sign off from the 2020/21 academic year here in England, I wanted to indulge in a little reflection on quite how much has happened in my world of physical education in just twelve short months. Thank you for being a part of that journey. If you don’t treat yourself to a similar moment of reflection, I can highly recommend it to help savour the preceding mayhem.

In August 2020, I teamed up with Liz to release our Key Stage 3 and 4 Wellbeing curriculums. Due to popular demand, these were quickly followed by a Key Stage 2 version to complete a trio of 12 themes for each of: foundation (best suited to key stage 2 or transition into secondary); development (Key Stage 3); and mastery (Key stage 4) lesson materials. These have already been accessed by over 150 schools and consequently thousands of students are already benefitting. If you like that, you will love our Concept Curriculum that comes following more than a year of design, discovery and testing from three dedicated PE leads and their teams. I met Lee, Lauren and Craig back in 2019 at Dorney Lake thanks to Laura Brookstein at Slough SSP and 8th July 2021 gave me the opportunity to return to Dorney Lake with them and 19 others to reflect on how far PE has moved on in their schools. We also planned for more next academic year.


Perhaps the most exciting contribution of my whole career to date came in April 2021 when we released a forerunner to our growing suite of courses to support PE curriculum design. This 12-part PE curriculum design programme recruited 100 dedicated teachers from 14 countries around the world to connect, learn, collaborate and create resources together to help transform their PE offer. I have loved sharing what I have learnt from working with over 175 schools since ‘lockdown one’ in March 2020 and ideas that have percolated over my 20 years within the education sector. We are now recruiting for September cohorts to this 12-part PE curriculum design programme. It will follow a similar model by running over two terms and including 8 live Zoom interactions but is also joined by a shorter Awesome PE in 5 ways course that can be completed in more like 5 hours with just 1 live zoom. This digs deep into ideas featured in a recent afPE webinar and PE matters article that I have written. You may also be interested in two courses written to support the exam and NEA aspects of the OCR GCSE (9-1) PE course. These feature ideas from my 2020 published book and more.

Global PhysEd

Meanwhile, I have learnt so much from collaborating with academics, researchers and practitioners from around the world to build a series of insight blogs that share policy and practice in PhysEd from different countries around the globe. The following links will take you straight to each one already published and I will update this post with other exciting editions in the pipeline for later this year.

Coming soon:

  • Scotland
  • Australia
  • Turkey
  • Wales
  • Ireland
  • Northern Ireland
  • And more.

Webinars, Blogs and Podcasts

This year has been a tough one for society, but I feel the pandemic has hit education nearly as hard as the health care system. Physical Education has been turned upside down with social distancing guidelines, lockdowns requiring home learning and real challenges around what could and could not be delivered safely. I hope my ‘Reflect and Reframe’, ‘Teaching Wellbeing‘ and ‘Leading Change‘ webinars and my ‘covid-19 and PE – Reflections on the impact so far‘ and ‘New Year, New Start – ideas to support a move beyond covid-19‘ blogs have been useful support during this time.

We have also seen a massive expansion of podcasts and these have certainly helped me to learn, reflect and get perspective during these times. Here are my ‘Podcast Picks’ and also ‘Books’ I have enjoyed reading recently. I have been lucky enough to be invited on to a number of podcasts:

and older talks with:

I really enjoyed the conversations. I have also started a new book club to share my thoughts on recent PE texts:

Watch this space for the growing catalogue to include:

  • Learning That Transfers by Julie Stern
  • Meaningful PE by Tim Fletcher et al.
  • Instructional Models in Physical Education 4th Edition by Michael Metzler

Youth Sport Trust have also recently refreshed their website and a number of PEople have been in touch to say they cannot find the world leading PE series of blogs that I wrote. I am happy to say the following links should now work:

  1. Understanding why PE?
  2. Auditing provision
  3. Creating a vision for PE
  4. Building your ambition for PE
  5. Teaching, Learning and Assessing in Core PE
  6. Extra-curricular Sport, Physical Activity and Enrichment
  7. Pathways in PE
  8. Community engagement
  9. Taking PE whole school

Other blogs I have enjoyed writing this year include:

I published my Masters dissertation research project ‘exploring physical activity and happiness in adolescents’ which has been a really interesting look into habits and attitudes across a group of Nottinghamshire schools thanks to the Sport England Secondary Teacher Training Programme.

2021 also brought our #EinPE competition, congratulations again to Amy Winter for winning and thanks to everyone who contributed or capitalised on ideas shared.

Liz and I also had the honour of presenting at the 2021 International Association for Physical Education in Higher Education (AISEP) Conference. Here is a quick look at what we presented on the good, bad and ugly of PE.

Thank you

I’d like to thank Nathan Horne and Adam Llevo for their commitment to sharing best practice and inviting me on to a number of webinars to share best practice. I have already confirmed commitments to quite a few exciting conferences and networking events for next academic year, so I look forward to working with many of you through those opportunities.

I have really enjoyed working with so many trainee teachers this year, not least those at Birmingham City University, Loughborough University and University of Buckingham who I have had lots of time with but also Leicestershire Secondary SCITT and plenty of others for a one off session. Thanks to the mentors who have supported a very challenging year in schools for these trainees and also to the 200+ PE leaders I have been fortunate enought to talk to this year. Wow, what a job you are all doing and I feel confident the future of PE is in safe hands.

I would also like to share a personal thank you to Danny Burton for whom YST has been your home for the last 2 and a bit years. The draw back to the chalk face means September 2021 will see you back in school every day leading PE and more across a group of lucky schools. I know students will really benefit from your daily interactions and that you will have left a legacy at YST, especially with the PE CatalYSTs and Sport England Secondary Teacher Training Programme.

Heartfelt thanks to Liz, Tim and the PE Scholar network for welcoming me. If you thought the 2020/21 academic year was exciting, then I cannot wait to share what we have lined up for September onwards! Until then, I hope those of you on summer break remain safe whilst getting the rest and recharge that you deserve. I hope that others from around the world continue to stay healthy and enjoy life with a shorter break. Most importantly, I hope that coronavirus doesn’t throw us all another curve ball next academic year.

Rest up and get ready!

Have you engaged with any of my work in the last 12 months? If so, I would love it if you could spare 2 minutes to drop me a quick email to [email protected] or complete this short survey to tell me about your year, what resonated with you and if it has had any impact on your students yet. Also happy to receive any requests for courses, resources and insight to throw in the melting pot for 2021/22.

Will Swaithes



Get brand new resources, courses, research and insight delivered every week!