The Importance of Physical Education and Physical Literacy

by | Nov 12, 2020 | Community, Education

“A physically literate individual will develop important life skills such as: independence, communication, teamwork and leadership.”

As a PE teacher, I want everyone to access the benefits sport and exercise can bring and for them to continue their involvement with it throughout their lives. Already in my teaching career I have seen so many children’s lives impacted upon so positively through understanding the importance of sport, exercise and an active lifestyle. This is known as physical literacy.

It is the aim of PE teachers for every pupil to become physically educated and reach a certain level of physical literacy. A student that is physically literate will have developed the confidence, motivation, physical competence and knowledge to understand the value of engagement in physical activities for life. Physical literacy is vital to the overall development of a child for a multitude of reasons. Sport and exercise can improve an individuals’ fitness/health, social skills and mental well-being. All of these benefits can be delivered within PE lessons in school.

The physical, social and psychological aspects of PE lessons ensure the learner reaches a certain level of physical literacy. A physically educated child will be physically literate. They will have an appreciation of the significant impact of leading a healthy active lifestyle and engaging in regular physical activity. A physically literate student will understand the benefits of incorporating exercise and physical activity into their weekly schedule, plus the value of continuing with this throughout their lives. They will also understand the negative impact of not taking part in regular exercise and not having a healthy active lifestyle.

From my own time within teaching I have seen many examples of just how important PE can be to young people. Pupils can make strong friendships through PE, improving their social interaction and social skills. Simply through participation, sport, exercise and especially PE can dramatically improve mental wellbeing. I have seen evidence of this first-hand with students that have anxieties but PE and sport has proven to be a welcome distraction. Other examples that I have witnessed with numerous students is the platform given to less academically gifted pupils or those with behavioural difficulties. PE allows them a certain freedom to express themselves in ways that other subjects are unable to.

A physically literate individual will develop important life skills such as: independence, communication, teamwork and leadership. They will consider their own conduct, show respect to others and demonstrate fair play and good sportsmanship. However, all of the previous mentioned benefits and positive outcomes are potentially wasted if there is a lack of commitment to engaging in regular purposeful exercise/physical pursuits. The individual must realise they are responsible for the decisions they make and are in control of their own destiny where personal health, fitness and wellbeing is concerned. From a personal perspective, it is extremely satisfying to see students develop, flourish and thrive within PE lessons and with all the positive effects PE offers the student they can become a well-rounded, well-educated, physically literate members of their communities and wider society.

In conclusion, a physically literate student will have enjoyed valuable and rewarding experiences through a varied PE curriculum, whereby engagement and dedication brings about tangible rewards as well as physical, social and psychological benefits. Physically literate individuals will understand what constitutes a healthy active lifestyle, including diet, personal fitness and the correct life choices. Thus, emphasising the vast array of benefits and importance of physical education in the holistic development of a child.


Neil Coleman is a PE Teacher at Macmillan Academy, Middlesbrough.


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