Learning from lockdown PE

When the lockdown began 15 weeks ago I started filming physical education videos for the local Willand Primary School. What initially started out as a short, 3-week project to help the teachers provide content for pupils to do at home eventually turned into a large archive of lesson plans. As our local schools just closed for summer break, it is a good time to reflect on the project.

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The structure

Primary school in the UK is for children from 5-11 years old. This is an age where we want to focus on three main areas: movement, physical abilities, and skills. Therefore, the three lessons each week focused on one of the areas:

  • Lesson 1: Movement
  • Lesson 2: Get Physical (strength, balance, mobility).
  • Lesson 3: Skills (balls, frisbees, spatial awareness).

I tried to combine some exercises, skills and drills as well as showing the progressions/regressions. PE can be messy, so having children in the videos shows how/what they can grasp and where they need help. This has nothing to do with ‘talent’ and everything to do with opportunity and environment.

Sports coaches may bemoan the lack of skills and ‘ability’ of children trying out for their squads: these videos may well be useful in helping all children (and athletes of all ages) develop a basic level of competence. They also track 10-year old Jack, who has appeared in all the videos, as he learns and progresses over the months. This may well be useful in the future for coaches and teachers looking to benchmark progress of other children.

Greatest hits

Here are 5 of the most popular videos that have been viewed so far spanning a wide range of themes: basic movement, skipping, jumping rope, walking, and strength.

Basic movement progressions (Week 1, Lesson 1)

Where it all began! It shows me helping a small group with basic movement progressions of skipping and crawling.

Skipping progressions (Week 3, Lesson 1)

Showing some of the multiple variations of skipping movements and how they form the foundation for more advanced agility work.

Rope skipping footwork (Week 13, Lesson 1)

More advanced rope skipping drills and encouragement for young people to practice. The kids loved it. Largely forgotten because adults are unable to demonstrate.

Back strengthening exercises (Week 8, Lesson 2)

Some adults really liked doing this with their children . . . home-working and desk work takes its toll on everyone.

Walking (Week 11, Lesson 1)

Watch the children laugh and smile as we help them discover different ways of walking. No step counting or measuring involved, just joy.


A big thank you to the Head Teacher of Willand School, Anne Hawkins, for her support and enthusiasm for this and the other home-learning projects. Thank you to all the teachers who have been using the lessons to help the children in and out of school. I am hoping they continue to use these videos over the coming months and years.

A special thank you to my wife, Sarah Marshall (@physioexcelsior) for filming and to Jack Marshall for being the subject and guinea pig without whom, the videos would be worthless.