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Preparing for a PE Deep Dive – Ofsted

So, you’re expecting Ofsted to deep dive into PE, and you would like to know more information beforehand.

Firstly, it is important not to try and impress Ofsted, or change anything you do on the day, so everything must be done way in advance and if children are happy, Ofsted will be too.

The Curriculum 

The key focus is on your school developing a high-quality PE curriculum, ensuring PE has a key place at school. The formal curriculum must be inclusive, well designed, relevant and purposeful, meaning it should not be solely games dominant. The curriculum ought to be progressive, involving ‘learning to move’ and ‘moving to learn’, as such, the context for learning is physical activity with the children experiencing a broad range of activities, including games, dance, and gymnastics.

In addition to the curriculum, Ofsted may focus on steps taken to offer a wide range of personal development opportunities since school reponed in March 2021, including spiritual, moral, social, and cultural development (SMSC & Cultural Capital).

To conclude, your curriculum should be thought through and built appropriately, taking into considerations your school needs, school development plan and pupil voice. The curriculum (and vision) should be easy to articulate and understood by all stakeholders. Snake diagrams/Road maps are useful, and examples found all over the internet. However, these must be manipulated to your school and show what skills, focus, and key learning is taking place, not merely what unit is being taught.

Avoid a ‘COVID PE Curriculum’ becoming the new normal, and plan for an ideal.

The Deep Dive 

The deep dive will focus around 4 main areas of questioning.

  1. How well does the curriculum meet the coverage requirements of the National Curriculum?
    – Does it meet NC expectations?
  2. How coherent is the curriculum?
    – What is the main thread everything is built on?
  3. How is the curriculum sequenced?
    – The order in which children learning skills and acquire knowledge.
    – Not just physical skills, but teamwork, leadership etc…
  4. What are the children learning?
    – How does it link to the past?
    – How does it link to the future?

Inspectors could look how teachers identify learning gaps. These again could be more social, psychological gaps not exclusively physical.

Lesson Visits

Ofsted will use this time to see first-hand what you have intended to do and the impact it has had in real time. Inspectors may ask themselves ‘How does this lesson contribute to the school’s curriculum intent’?

Staff maybe questioned on their CPD, where focus is on subject knowledge and the assessment process on how they know children make progress, ready for the next key stage in learning.

However, most of the focus will be on the children where conversations will be largely around challenge, progression, what they have learnt in PE, happiness, and the normality of the lesson, (e.g. Is this a normal lesson?). There will be usually no expectation of paper evidence or portfolio!

Useful Assessment Models 

Head’ (thinking), ‘Hands’ (doing), and Heart’(motivation/behavioural change) 

ME in PE’ (thinking me, healthy me, social me, physical me, personal me)

Inspectors will not ask for and cannot see internal data, such as RAG rating paperwork.

Think! What does your school do differently? 

Re-thinking Process 

  • Work through the national curriculum and scrutinise your whole school aims/mission/intent.
  • Decide how PESSPA can contribute to this.
  • Can you share coverage with other subjects?
  • Decide your end points and key markers of learning.
  • Create a curriculum overview of a child’s learning journey, not activity map.
  • Overview agreed with key stakeholders.
  • Help children and staff understand your approach.
  • Re-evaluate how inclusive is it and how do you know?

AfPE offers a wide range of high-quality resources for PE leaders and schools.

If you require any personal assistance with your own Curriculum or PE Deep Dive, please contact me on

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