Ofsted’s PE research review


On 18th March 2022, Ofsted published it’s PE research review. Here is Hanna Miller, HMI Subject Lead for Physical Education talking briefly about what it means to get better at PE:

In this second video, Hanna explores some of the key principles that can influence the quality of PE:

The full document will take you at least an hour to work your way through, but it is important that you do get a detailed account of the current thinking within Ofsted of what is valuable and in fact valued in terms of physical education.

Research Review Summary

It is hard to reduce all that is contained within this research review into a handful of bullet points, but here is what we picked up on:

  • the importance of understanding similarities and differences between PE, sport and physical activity in terms of purpose or goals
  • the need to understand underpinning ideologies of physical literacy better (please see Physical Literacy: A Guide for Educators)
  • PE is for everyone and as such inclusion should be a high priority for all
  • repeated reference to three pillars that cover the national curriculum aims:
    • motor competence – knowledge of the range of movements that become increasingly sport and physical activity specific
    • rules, strategies and tactics – knowledge of the conventions of participation in different sports and physical activities
    • healthy participation – knowledge of safe and effective participation
  • a focus on high-quality instruction, practice and feedback
  • the key role fundamental movement skills (FMS) can play as the foundation or building blocks for development
  • the importance of declarative (knowing what) and procedural (knowing how) knowledgewhat do students know and what can they show?
  • the importance of depth over breadth of learning (avoiding ‘a mile wide and an inch thick’ taster curriculum)
  • the need to select activity areas carefully based on their role in meeting a broad and ambitious curriculum
  • the importance of scope and sequence of learning to be coherent and meaningful
  • the importance of holding data on participation percentages for different target groups in your extra-curricular programme to extend your offer within lessons
  • the importance of 50-80% activity time within lessons
  • assessment should be ongoing and reflective of what is valued in physical education
  • the importance of CPD, strong subject leadership and concerns around outsourcing of PE within the primary sector
  • the need to carefully connect your intent, implementation and impact to meet needs and motivations in your context (consider our popular Awesome PE course to help you think this through)

Please remember the ‘subject report’ has been promised before September 2023 and is anticipated to give further ideas about best practice in PE through the eyes of inspectors.

Recommended Further Reading

If you would like more reading to help you survey the research landscape we also recommend that you read the following blogs:

We also recommend the National Plan for Sport, Health and Wellbeing.


Access the full Ofsted research document here and answer the following 5 questions as you go:

  1. What 3-5 messages come across as most significant from this research review?
  2. What were you most pleased to read as part of the review?
  3. Can you see any potential bias or missing perspectives in what has been shared?
  4. What do you think is missing from the physical education literature or realities within school in this review?
  5. What do you think you need to focus on most to ensure you impress during a potential inspection framed around this review?

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