PE Insights Episode 18: Neil Moggan – Trauma Informed PE and RISE Up


In this conversation, Nathan Walker delves into the inspiring educational journey of Neil Moggan, who not only found his way through the challenges of high school but also discovered a profound passion for physical education (PE) that shaped his career. From childhood experiences in sports clubs to university studies in sports management, Neil’s story takes us through the transformative moments that led him to become an advocate for trauma-informed practice in education.

Building Foundations in PE

Neil highlights the role of his PE teacher during high school, whose support and passion for the subject helped him overcome personal challenges. This foundation laid the groundwork for his future in PE. After studying sports management and working in insurance post-university, a chance encounter with a friend who was a PE teacher sparked a realisation. The friend’s enthusiasm for teaching inspired Neil to pursue a PGCE and become a PE teacher.

Early Teaching Career: Ambitions and Inspirations

Neil shares his experiences at a rural school, becoming head of year and then head of department within five years. The ambition to become a director of sport led him to a challenging inner-city school in Norwich, where he faced the stark realities of socioeconomic disparities among students. Motivated by a presentation revealing a 13-year life expectancy difference based on a child’s birth location, Neil channelled his frustration into initiatives focusing on reducing obesity and promoting mental well-being. His efforts gained recognition, and the school became a leader in these areas.

Trauma-Informed Practice: Future Action

Facing challenges in the later years of his teaching career, Neil discovered the power of trauma-informed practice. This approach transformed his relationships with students and significantly improved classroom dynamics, ultimately leading him to establish “Future Action” during the lockdown to support colleagues worldwide in implementing trauma-informed PE. Future Action now supports over 150 schools globally with a focus on early intervention, mental well-being programmes, and trauma-informed PE. Neil discusses his upcoming book, which delves into early intervention, mental well-being, trauma-informed practice, and the future of childhood. Stepping out of the classroom to concentrate on Future Action, Neil expresses gratitude for the incredible journey in PE and looks forward to supporting more educators.

Building Strong Foundations: The Power of Relationships in PE Teaching

Neil emphasises the impact of relationships in education. Anecdotes of transformed student behaviour and motivation highlight the effectiveness of prioritising psychological safety and trauma-informed approaches. In the realm of Physical Education, intentional relationship-building takes centre stage, amplifying the effectiveness of teaching strategies. Utilising facial expressions and body language creates a psychologically safe environment, fostering connections with students.

The Rise Concept: A Holistic Approach to Mental Wellbeing

Neil introduced the RISE concept to bridge the gap between physical activity and mental health for lasting impact. RISE encompasses Repeater activities, Inclusive teams, Stress busters, and Energisers, providing diverse avenues for students to manage stress and enhance mental wellbeing. Tailoring the RISE concept to various educational levels, Neil stresses the importance of introducing it early. From primary schools to secondary education, the goal is to help students find a lifelong passion for physical activity, managing stress effectively.

Empowering Teachers: Prioritise Relationships and Wellbeing

Encouraging teachers to focus on the bigger picture, Neil emphasises the significance of building relationships intentionally. Smiling, creating a psychologically safe space, and incorporating student voice into PE lessons enhance the overall teaching experience. Prioritising teacher wellbeing is equally crucial to fostering empathy and compassion for both educators and students.

Challenges and Call to Action

The primary challenge lies in promoting trauma-informed practices among mainstream teachers and highlighting its relevance in the post-lockdown educational landscape. Neil advocates for continuous efforts, sharing case studies, and spreading awareness through the Future Action platform. The ultimate goal is to transform the lives of children, ensuring their mental wellbeing and a positive trajectory beyond school.

Conclusion: A Call for Transformation

As we conclude this podcast review, it’s evident that Neil’s journey is more than a personal narrative; it’s a call for transformation in education. Through trauma-informed practice and a focus on relationships, educators can create safe spaces, fostering not only academic success but also holistic well-being for their students.

About the Guest

Today’s episode featured Neil Moggan. Neil is a trauma informed practitioner and has created and tested the ‘Recover’ roadmap to guide PE departments how to implement trauma informed PE to transform relationships, wellbeing, engagement, behaviour and progress in the short term, and children’s life chances in the long term. Neil is currently writing a book in collaboration with Scholarly on the decline of children’s mental health over the last 15 years and what schools can do to support young people.

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You can connect with Neil directly via X at @neilfutureact

Listen and Connect

To listen to the full episode please follow these links to Spotify or Apple Podcasts. If you would like to be a guest on the PE Insights Podcast please reach out by contacting us here or reach out to Nathan Walker via X at @NWalkerPE

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