A 2009 study found that short breaks for physical activity between lessons improved classroom behaviour. At one school, it was reported that since the school began providing at least two hours of PE a week, the children became more tolerant of one another and work better in groups. PE and sport have also been shown to increase the sense of connection young people feel with their school.
Kevin Barton, executive head of achievement for the Youth Sport Trust, says this is because PE can make children feel wanted. He says: “The thing that leads to poor behaviour is kids not feeling any ownership of what they are doing and not feeling part of anything. “Sport can really help people to feel like part of a team. That may sound really obvious, but it is missing from a lot of young people’s lives.”
PE can also be an opportunity to develop resilience and independent learning skills. Graham Mallen, a PE and psychology teacher at Manor School Sports College in Northamptonshire, uses the instant video motion analysis tool Coach’s Eye in his lessons, and has seen skill levels increase as a result. He says the main benefit is that students can see what they are doing wrong and independently work out how to improve it by discussing with a partner or comparing their video with footage of professional athletes.
He says: “Students aren’t as resilient as they used to be and a lot of that is because they haven’t got autonomy over what they do. It’s very empowering to give a student an iPad and hand the reins over to them to improve their technique.”