Statutory guidance

National curriculum in England: physical education programmes of study

Published 11 September 2013

Purpose of study

A high-quality physical education curriculum inspires all pupils to succeed and excel in competitive sport and other physically demanding activities. It should provide opportunities for pupils to become physically confident in a way which supports their health and fitness. Opportunities to compete in sport and other activities build character and help to embed values such as fairness and respect.

Aims

The national curriculum for physical education aims to ensure that all pupils:

  • develop competence to excel in a broad range of physical activities
  • are physically active for sustained periods of time
  • engage in competitive sports and activities
  • lead healthy, active lives

Attainment targets

By the end of each key stage, pupils are expected to know, apply and understand the matters, skills and processes specified in the relevant programme of study.

Schools are not required by law to teach the example content in [square brackets].

Subject content

Key stage 1

Pupils should develop fundamental movement skills, become increasingly competent and confident and access a broad range of opportunities to extend their agility, balance and coordination, individually and with others. They should be able to engage in competitive (both against self and against others) and co-operative physical activities, in a range of increasingly challenging situations.

Pupils should be taught to:

  • master basic movements including running, jumping, throwing and catching, as well as developing balance, agility and co-ordination, and begin to apply these in a range of activities
  • participate in team games, developing simple tactics for attacking and defending
  • perform dances using simple movement patterns

Key stage 2

Pupils should continue to apply and develop a broader range of skills, learning how to use them in different ways and to link them to make actions and sequences of movement. They should enjoy communicating, collaborating and competing with each other. They should develop an understanding of how to improve in different physical activities and sports and learn how to evaluate and recognise their own success.

Pupils should be taught to:

  • use running, jumping, throwing and catching in isolation and in combination
  • play competitive games, modified where appropriate [for example, badminton, basketball, cricket, football, hockey, netball, rounders and tennis], and apply basic principles suitable for attacking and defending
  • develop flexibility, strength, technique, control and balance [for example, through athletics and gymnastics]
  • perform dances using a range of movement patterns
  • take part in outdoor and adventurous activity challenges both individually and within a team
  • compare their performances with previous ones and demonstrate improvement to achieve their personal best

Swimming and water safety

All schools must provide swimming instruction either in key stage 1 or key stage 2.

In particular, pupils should be taught to:

  • swim competently, confidently and proficiently over a distance of at least 25 metres
  • use a range of strokes effectively [for example, front crawl, backstroke and breaststroke]
  • perform safe self-rescue in different water-based situations

Key stage 3

Pupils should build on and embed the physical development and skills learned in key stages 1 and 2, become more competent, confident and expert in their techniques, and apply them across different sports and physical activities. They should understand what makes a performance effective and how to apply these principles to their own and others’ work. They should develop the confidence and interest to get involved in exercise, sports and activities out of school and in later life, and understand and apply the long-term health benefits of physical activity.

Pupils should be taught to:

  • use a range of tactics and strategies to overcome opponents in direct competition through team and individual games [for example, badminton, basketball, cricket, football, hockey, netball, rounders, rugby and tennis]
  • develop their technique and improve their performance in other competitive sports [for example, athletics and gymnastics]
  • perform dances using advanced dance techniques in a range of dance styles and forms
  • take part in outdoor and adventurous activities which present intellectual and physical challenges and be encouraged to work in a team, building on trust and developing skills to solve problems, either individually or as a group
  • analyse their performances compared to previous ones and demonstrate improvement to achieve their personal best
  • take part in competitive sports and activities outside school through community links or sports clubs 

Key stage 4

Pupils should tackle complex and demanding physical activities. They should get involved in a range of activities that develops personal fitness and promotes an active, healthy lifestyle.

Pupils should be taught to:

  • use and develop a variety of tactics and strategies to overcome opponents in team and individual games [for example, badminton, basketball, cricket, football, hockey, netball, rounders, rugby and tennis]
  • develop their technique and improve their performance in other competitive sports [for example, athletics and gymnastics] or other physical activities [for example, dance]
  • take part in further outdoor and adventurous activities in a range of environments which present intellectual and physical challenges and which encourage pupils to work in a team, building on trust and developing skills to solve problems, either individually or as a group
  • evaluate their performances compared to previous ones and demonstrate improvement across a range of physical activities to achieve their personal best
  • continue to take part regularly in competitive sports and activities outside school through community links or sports clubs

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