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Research and Reports around Engagement and our Response

Research and Reports around Engagement and our Response

At St Mary's, we keep up-to-date with current research and recommendations for our PE, School Sport and Physical Activity (PESSPA) offer.


Below are some key findings from research and reports that we have responded to and have considered when we designed - and when we continue to refine - our offer:


  • Pupils that participate in extra-curricular activities gain confidence and build up their social skills, which is much sought after by employers (Social Mobility Commission, 2019).
    • Our response - Our extra-curricular offer provides a breadth of activities for pupils to engage with. Our staff volunteer their time to offer a variety of sports, creative and STEM-linked clubs for our pupils. We work with Inspired Schools to offer further clubs where we see there is a need. We ensure that all pupils have access to our extra-curricular activities and that gender is never a barrier. To make sure that all children leave St Mary's with the experience of taking part in extra-curricular activities, we commit to offering all children at least two experiences outside of the curriculum before they leave Year 6.


  • Pupils’ swimming and water safety attainment in primary schools is mixed (Ofsted, 2023) - Please note that this is not a comment towards St Mary's, rather a comment about school swimming across the country.
    • Our response - The closest swimming pool for our pupils to attend is a 38-minute walk away at 1610 Trinity Sports and Leisure. This geographical barrier means that we are limited to what we are able to offer due to the cost of transport to and from the swimming pool, as well as the knock-on impact of missing learning time, so opportunities are carefully considered. We offer twenty lessons as part of our PE curriculum offer (currently in Year 4 and Year 5) and have been working on providing further opportunities to our pupils as we know that water confidence and safety are vital life skills. In 2023-2024, we increased our swimming offer to now include the following opportunities: Aqua Splash Festival for 40 KS2 pupils; St Mary's Swimming Gala intra-school competition; and the Bridgwater Schools Swimming Gala, which is open to all through a trials process. We are looking into furthering our water safety offer as well as we know how vital this life skill is.


  • A small number of pupils in both primary and secondary schools routinely miss PE lessons so that they can receive support in other areas of the curriculum (Ofsted, 2023).
    • Our response - PE is a core part of our school life. Pupils come into school wearing their PE kits to reduce any wasted lesson time. Staff wear sports clothing too as being physically active is a priority. To ensure the best for our pupils, sometimes support is needed in other areas of the curriculum. Without providing this extra support, we would be doing the pupils a disservice. We know that feedback should be given in a timely manner to be effective (University of Greenwich), so our interventions are short and focused. We also rotate our additional support timetable to ensure that PE is rarely, if at all, impacted.


  • Timetabled PE lessons might be the only opportunity for some pupils to learn the knowledge they need to make informed decisions about participating in physical activity and sport and leading a healthy, active life (Ofsted, 2023).
    • Our response - We are in a privileged position to be role models for the next generation. We model good manners, our interactions with one another and high standards in class-based lessons. At St Mary's, our PESSPA culture is considered equally as important. We share our sports news in our weekly Celebration Assembly, regardless of the outcome; we share our wins and losses with the school community through a 'write-up' in the newsletter, that is predominantly written by the pupils; and we should exceed 50 different PESSPA opportunities this academic year, with a significant number of these being inclusive events. If our pupils have been involved with any physical activity outside of school, we always want to know and we share it with other staff too - especially Mrs Dunstan. Pupils at St Mary's take part in a daily lap (or two) of our running track to socialise and to build positive habits for a healthy, active life in a no pressure environment. We have an active culture at St Mary's that we are proud of. Therefore, our response to the statement above from Ofsted is that we know our timetabled PE lessons are not the only opportunity for our pupils to develop. Instead, we provide our pupils with the opportunity to learn the knowledge they need to make informed decisions through PE, promoting active journeys to and from school, promoting active break and lunchtimes, sports leadership opportunities for KS2 and offering a broad and balanced range of extra-curricular activities to enjoy.