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National Fitness Day – Best 2023 resources for schools

Young children taking part in National Fitness Day

Get kids moving on National Fitness Day and put them on a healthy and active path for life…

by Teachwire
Five-a-day exercises lesson plan
DOWNLOAD A FREE RESOURCE! KS2 PE lesson plan – Get fit with five-a-day exercises

What is National Fitness Day?

National Fitness Day is a chance to highlight the role physical activity plays across the UK. It’s all about raising awareness of the importance of physical activity in helping us to lead healthier lifestyles. 

Last year, more than 22 million people across the UK got active on the day, including over 11 million children.

When is National Fitness Day 2023?

It’s on Wednesday 20th September.

National Fitness Day resources

Fitness is something that many of us have taken for granted until it’s too late (OK, it’s never too late, but we all wish we’d done something sooner).

But as we all know too well from statistics regarding our nation’s youth, when sport and activity becomes something a child loathes or fears, their physical and mental health can suffer. And that only makes it harder to break the cycle of inactivity as they get older.

National Fitness Day is a great opportunity to show that health and fitness can be fun, that it doesn’t have to be competitive, and that it can be implemented into activities throughout the day.

Five-a-day lesson plan for KS2

The aim of this cross-curricular KS2 lesson is to learn about parts of the body and what happens to them when we exercise, linking PE to science. You’ll set up mini circuits involving five different activities, with pupils doing a 20-second burst at each before rotating.

10@10 exercises

Children taking part in National Fitness Day

This year, schools are encouraged to take part in 10@10. This simply involves doing ten minutes of physical activity at 10am on National Fitness Day. Download a digital toolkit that contains assets to support your school in taking part.

KS4 PE lesson plan

This free KS4 PE lesson plan from teacher John Maycock will help pupils identify and explain the components of fitness. Across each practical session pupils will get active and use the components of fitness they’re learning about.

Fitness booklet for KS3

Fitness booklet

This 11-page fitness booklet will help KS3 pupils record their thoughts about fitness and make a note of the results of a number of fitness exercises, activities and challenges.

Studio You

Studio You is a tool for secondary PE teachers to help you make exercise more inclusive, accessible and open to girls. Head to the website to look at a range of resources that will help you incorporate Studio You into your curriculum, including hundreds of free video-based PE lessons.

Disney dance-alongs

Help pupils get moving to songs they love with this selection of Disney Dance-Alongs from This Girl Can. Learn the moves in the video or put your own spin on the routine.

5-a-day Fitness subscription

5-a-day Fitness is a fun subscription-based fitness resource for primary schools. Increase daily physical activity with online five-minute exercise routines, and two-minute chill-out routines. Find out more.

How to plan inclusive secondary PE lessons for pupils with SEND

In many respects, PE lessons are far more inclusive than they used to be – but there’s still room for improvement, says PE teacher Zeph Bennett

Schools, and PE departments in particular, have a responsibility under the Equality Act 2010 to prevent discriminatory participation. Schools must also ensure that students with SEND have access to the same adapted curriculum as other students. This means that you promote the same opportunities for learning and development to all students equally.

Long gone are the days when one would see SEND students standing on the sidelines officiating, or acting as equipment monitors during lessons.

“Long gone are the days when one would see SEND students standing on the sidelines officiating”

Nowadays, students are bound by ever-expanding curriculum options to demonstrate progress through participation.

Battling misconceptions

Before we look at the PE curriculum itself, it’s worth noting how schools must battle several misconceptions before the planning and implementation of a new curriculum can even begin.

One challenge in recent years has been disengagement among students and parents. This is due to the belief that a child’s motor cognitive skills aren’t appropriate for traditional PE lessons.

Parents usually support this form of disengagement. And it will often lead to alternative provision that ensures the student will rarely, if ever, experience physical activity within a school setting.

Thankfully, however, following the introduction of the Statutory Inclusion Statement in 2003 (since replaced by Education, Health and Care plans) this kind of arrangement would raise significant red flags during a school’s inspection.

We must now modify curriculums to accommodate all students. This is alongside removing any potential barriers to participation as part of the curriculum planning process.

As such, the main problem in this area now is ensuring that parents are on board with schools’ efforts to increase physical activity opportunities for their children. It’s about helping parents overcome the unconscious bias of their own PE experiences decades before.

Curriculum depth

Admittedly, PE does still involve a certain degree of competition-based learning compared to other subjects. After all, students in mixed ability sets regularly play games against each other during lessons.

This isn’t the PE that some may remember from the 1980s, though. The subject’s curriculum depth and variety has since increased significantly. Many schools now opt for a choice-driven approach to curriculums at KS4 where students can participate in gym classes, trampolining, table tennis and volleyball, among other activities.

At KS3 there’s now much more emphasis on developing students’ basic motor skills. Think catching, throwing and jumping. This is rather than focusing primarily on their progress in traditional ‘invasion’ games like hockey, football and rugby.

The importance elite sports now place on strength and conditioning has trickled down into PE curriculums. A growing number of schools have on-site gym rooms. This broadens the range of physical activities students can choose from.

“The importance elite sports now place on strength and conditioning has trickled down into PE curriculums”

The TA problem

Yet for all that, we can’t pretend that SEND provision in PE is good enough. One statutory requirement is for students with SEND who require TA support to have this in PE lessons.

As a PE practitioner for 27 years, I can confirm that this is sadly often not the case. Students with severe motor coordination difficulties aren’t always accompanied in lessons.

One can lay the blame for this at the school. However, if you dig a little deeper, the problem invariably leads back to central funding cuts. This is alongside the necessity to ensure that an ever decreasing pool of available TAs support classrooms.

When I recently ran a Twitter poll asking PE practitioners about the support they saw being provided, only 44% of respondents stated having specific SEND support in place during their PE lessons. PE departments have increasingly had to adapt to teaching students with SEND without the aid of specialist TAs.

At first glance, this would seem like an impossible situation. But what we’ve actually seen is a remarkable evolution of curriculum intent.

Curriculums designed around the progress of individual needs with physical activities (such as specific sports) is often now a secondary consideration.

Those PE departments that make inclusive education work will thread adapted activities into their curriculum seamlessly. This allows all students to experience physical activity on some level.

“PE departments have increasingly had to adapt to teaching students with SEND without the aid of specialist TA”

Case study

One PE department currently on this journey of evolution is Carlton Bolling school in Bradford. Head of PE Paul Brennan initially arrived to find a department where ‘inclusion’ amounted to SEND students acting as assistants to the teacher, rather than learners within the class.

This being far from what Paul wanted, he promptly rewrote the department’s curriculum intent. This was to ensure that all students could take part in warm-ups, and fully participate in adapted drills and games within a mixed ability setting.

Paul has since carefully crafted a second curriculum. This runs in parallel with the main curriculum, which enables students to get involved at different points along a specific unit of work.

This adapted curriculum employs the STEP model. This means mapping out ‘Space’, ‘Task’, ‘Equipment’ and ‘People’ considerations to maximise student participation.

Key to its success is giving SEND students a role within every drill or game. That might be taking kick off, or taking free hits in a small game of hockey.

The department’s adapted curriculum is still in its early stages, but based around a model that’s increasingly being seen as the norm in many PE departments across the country.

After-school issues

And yet, despite the gradual diminishing of barriers to lesson participation, access to extracurricular activities remains a hot topic. Most schools offer an extensive programme of after-school sporting and physical activities, but uptake among SEND students remains low.

This can primarily be down to after-school options being weighted in favour of competitive fixtures and team practice. And with even less availability of support staff, the activities on offer will hence be less varied compared to PE lessons.

After a second Twitter poll canvassing people’s thoughts on extracurricular PE activities specifically for SEND students, I found that an overwhelming 81% of respondents were based at schools that didn’t provide any.

Over time, we’ve learnt that curriculums have to be adapted if they’re to be inclusive. It follows that if we fail to do the same when it comes to extracurricular provision, we simply won’t attract students with SEND to those sessions.

For our part, we run a SEND trampolining club once a week – a regular session that initially started with five students, and which now frequently attracts 25+.


The PE curriculum continues to evolve at pace, with departments broadening their offerings and developing dual purpose curriculums.

Specific support for SEND students is proving to be an ongoing issue, however, in the face of educational cutbacks and the spreading of limited TA capacity across multiple subjects.

As a result, departments are becoming ever more ingenious in their efforts to improve student participation, amid a proliferation of new sports and hybrid activities designed to be non-invasive and non-competitive that strike a chord with students and teachers alike.

“Departments are becoming ever more ingenious in their efforts to improve student participation”

Competitive Boccia festivals are now organised by a number of local authorities which successfully draw in most schools – but with these typically only taking place annually, the next step must be to integrate more extracurricular opportunities for SEND students throughout the year.

Finally, it’s worth noting that the vast majority of SEND students participate in PE without any need for an adaptive curriculum, thriving and progressing like any other student.

This serves to show how a successful curriculum pathway for SEND students can be both progressive and supportive, depending on the individual needs of the students in question.

Zeph Bennett is a PE teacher and illustrator, and works as an achievement lead at Werneth High School in Stockport.

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