The Primary Physical Education Concept Curriculum

Primary PE Concept Curriculum - Featured - EYFS Curriculum Map

Building on the success of the Secondary Concept Curriculum which was launched in 2021 and following several requests for a similar approach at Primary level, we got to work on creating a Primary Concept Curriculum. This article hopes to present to you how a concept approach to PE delivery can be utilised across Primary PE.

The purpose of the Primary Concept Curriculum

We firmly believe that PE needs to carefully re-examine how we get every child off to the best possible start and ensure that we lay the foundations for a physically active life.

PE should be a positive and meaningful learning environment within which every young person feels included and valued. Yet, for so many, PE is doing the opposite. It is a humiliating, alienating and a demotivating experience that is turning many away from the life-long benefits of physical activity and the joy of movement.

When reflecting upon the purpose of PE, especially in relation to the aims of the National Curriculum we must consider the ABC’s of being:

Active for sustained periods of time,

Building positive relationships with PEPASS

Competence in a range of activities and environments

and, we also have an opportunity to add a D by:

Developing character, knowledge and understanding through physical activity

The D should not replace anything from our ABC’s, but can be used to enhance our offer and build stronger connections to our subject and physical activity.

Therefore, the purpose of the Primary Concept Curriculum is not to create resilient individuals, strong leaders or effective communicators. Although I hope this might happen, the purpose is to provide personally relevant, PE-specific learning that engages every learner and enables all to build strong relationships with PE, physical activity and sport.

Curriculum map

A concept is a powerful idea that can co-exist alongside a cognitive and physically focused learning objective and therefore enable all to succeed in their own way. PE is not about delivering a carousel of activities nor is it just skills, techniques, rules and competition. It is time we looked to harness the full power of sport and physical activity to deliver a more meaningful and positive learning experience. Children will have opportunities to consider the importance of what they are learning in PE, physical activity and sport and be encouraged to consider how this learning will support them in life beyond PE.

The Primary Concept Curriculum provides full schemes of work and lesson plans (with activities) from early years to Year 6. Children will embark on an enriching learning journey that will develop fundamental movement skills, expressive and activity specific skills and opportunities to apply movements into practice. Enabling primary teachers of all levels and experience to deliver meaningful PE lessons effectively.

Early Years and Key Stage 1

The Primary Concept Curriculum was written to get children off to the best possible start in our subject. In Early Years, children discover, explore and practice fundamental movement through immersive stories and engaging activities. Using storytelling and play, we seek engage the children’s imagination and creativity to get children enjoying movement. Naturally, the story will provide opportunities to develop social and emotional skills, as well as learning through the cognitive and physical domains. Each unit of work will cover dance, gymnastics, outdoor adventure activities and mixed games. All whilst learning important PE specific concepts that will help them on their journey in PE and beyond.

Key Stage 2

In Key Stage 2 we move away from immersive stories to more activity specific categories with the aim of creating healthy achievers, confident creators, mindful communicators and motivated movers. Children will continue to explore PE specific concepts through this multi-activity approach, whilst developing activity specific skills that can be applied across a variety of physical activities. Children will continue to build upon the foundations that develop their movement competence and confidence that will truly motivate them to continue to engage in physical activity and sport beyond the PE lessons.

Introducing Know, Grow, Show

In the Primary Concept Curriculum, we are introducing three lesson objectives created by Becky Bridges (@becky_bridges): Know, Show and Grow.

Firstly, the ‘know’ learning objective is designed to focus on the cognitive domain and declarative knowledge. This objective aims to develop young people’s understanding of what safe and successful movement looks like, the rules, conventions, regulations, strategies and tactics for participation in different activities and what health and fitness mean in context.

The ‘show’ learning objective focusses on the physical domain and procedural knowledge. Within this objective young people will develop fundamental movement and activity specific skills, such as knowing how to perform safe and effective movement, how to perform the rules, conventions, strategies and tactics in a sport and know how to participate in an activity.

The final learning objective, ‘grow’, focusses on the affective domain and conditional knowledge with a link to an overarching concept to develop young people holistically.

With the inclusion of this learning objective, the lesson is not purely focused on the performance of skills within an activity, but knowing why they are performed, when they are performed and what holistic characteristics can be applied and developed through the activity and beyond the PE classroom.

Having this blend of know, show and grow learning objectives lends itself naturally to increased inclusivity and engagement.

LEAD Lesson Framework

The Primary Concept Curriculum offers a simple lesson delivery framework that can be utilised to effectively deliver conceptual learning whilst ensure students are active for a sustained period of time and developing movement competency.

  • Lesson Introduction: At the start of the lesson, by introducing the concept it opens the opportunity to focus the learning and explore its application within our PE context.
  • Energise, Explore and Link: Once students have understood what is meant by the concept, get them active as quickly as possible and encourage them to explore and make connections with the physical activity we are engaging in. This will enable a deeper level of thinking and learning. At the end of the activity, ask the students the link questions for them to understand and link the learning to the activity.
  • Activity: The most important part of any PE lesson is the opportunity to be physically active. Create engaging and challenging activities for students to demonstrate their understanding of the concept, develop their competence and confidence with the physical activity and have plenty of time to practice the skills and techniques required to engage with a variety of activities.
  • Discovery: The final stage of the L.E.A.D Model is to discuss the discoveries we have made in the lesson and how this learning could be applied elsewhere. Here we encourage students to consider what they have learnt, how they have demonstrated this learning and where else this learning might help them in PE and beyond.

Teachable Moments

Teacha­ble moments are times within a lesson that the concept can be embedded further, or coaching can be provided to enable practical progression. Teachable moments come in two forms:

  • Targeted learning: feedback provided to an individual or small group regarding the concept, key techniques, or sport specific information.
  • Discussion points: Feedback provided to a class to highlight key learning or address common misconceptions.

Look for these teachable moments within a lesson to deliver impactful learning at the most opportune time. If there are no opportunities for teachable moments at that time, stand back and keep the students active.

Create Your Own

Download the create your one template here.


This article has aimed to highlight an innovative approach to primary PE delivery. One which shifts the focus from a purely sport-specific and performance focused form of delivery to one that offers inclusive hooks and explicitly looks to develop character through physical activity. Primary PE is a vital part of the physical literacy journey and one that can build the foundation for a lifelong relationship with physical activity.


“This resource uniquely brings together creative, concept led and story based learning in Early Years Physical Education.  The incorporated activities of games, dance, gymnastics and adventurous activities are used to inspire imagination while retaining a focus on fundamental skill development.  Comprehensive and clear, any teacher would be able to use this resource effectively with their class.”

Dr Vicky Randall, University of Winchester


To find out further information around the Primary Concept Curriculum and to access the full resource with over 80 lessons from Early Years to Key Stage 2 visit the PE Scholar website.

For any questions related to the Primary Concept Curriculum email Lee Sullivan at [email protected] or Direct Message on Twitter @Lee_Sullivan85

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