Promoting Positive Competition in PE

There has been much written in the past about the benefits and perceived pitfalls of competitive physical education and sport. On one hand, you may have those who did not enjoy PE at school and would do everything possible to avoid a competitive interhouse cross country and, on the other hand, those that loved the excitement of competition and the opportunity to challenge themselves against others.

Whilst Heywood Prep’s sports fixtures have been put on hold due to the pandemic this autumn, this hasn’t deterred the department providing a competitive element in each of our PE classes.

With a new theme each week under the Health/ Skill Related Fitness unit of work, children have been exposed to warm up games, fitness, skill elements and a fun end of lesson challenge.

Each child from Year 1 to Year 6 can achieve a Gold, Silver or Bronze challenge sticker which they can add on to their class sheet by the new Sports Office. We are currently at the end of week five, and the challenges so far have included the Pro Agility Challenge, Continuous Running, Ruler Reaction Test, Sit n Reach and Box Jump Challenge.

At Heywood we believe in the benefits of a little healthy competition in the classroom. It inspires children to do their best whilst becoming more inquisitive about the subject and learning about themselves and others. Much research suggests that there are many benefits to exposing our pupils to competition. Being in competitive situations tends to have two possible influences on our pupils’ motivation: they try harder to succeed or they reduce their efforts because of perceived failure.

Encouraging teamwork, learning about winning and losing, moral development, teachers managing nerves, accelerating learning due to increased motivation and an outlet for controlled aggression are just a few of the benefits that we see.

As Director of Sport at Heywood Prep, I believe some element of school curriculum competition can be highly motivating and great fun with careful planning and thought. It is also important that we are able to provide a variety of progressive tasks within each lesson that allow our children to work at their own level and experience success. Through individualised praise, rewarding effort and encouraging positive peer feedback in line with this, we can create a feeling that success / winning is possible for all.

Regardless of their engagement in competitive sport, the number one priority for all our young children is to engage and have fun in some form of physical activity. The best schools’ curriculums will develop the fundamentals of physical literacy, have a broad and inclusive competition programme involving both intra and inter school competition and promote health and well-being through a commitment to physical activity. This is certainly our aim and hope that this is felt at Heywood Prep.

CG Knight

Director of Sport

Heywood Prep