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Benefits of Physical Education for the Development of Pupils

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Physical Education
Wordcount: 3981 words Published: 4th Nov 2020

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The physical benefits of Physical Education and sports are easily identifiable, however, the mental benefits of exercise are often overlooked. Exercise improves the mental health and cognitive development of children which can shape the children to become better adults and later in life help them to contribute positively to society (Sibley, 2003).  Shields and Bredemeier, (1995), Green  (2003), Capel (2003) all believed that PE teachers have a special empathy towards children’s needs which helps with their development of Personal, Social, and Health Education (PSHE).  However,  I believe  that we as teachers have a much greater impact on children and may influence them in many more ways including but not limited to spiritual, moral cultural, intellectual and social developments.

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It is important at a young age to encourage pupils to take part in Physical Education (PE) in order for them to have the opportunity to socially interact with their peers which links directly with our schools values which are Endeavour, Respect, Courtesy and Honesty.  The national curriculum states what should be taught in schools across England and the importance of each subject. The national curriculum guidance promotes the spiritual, moral,  cultural, mental and physical development of pupils within school and society. Therefore, schools try to prepare pupils for society later on in their lifetime with different opportunities, responsibilities and experiences (DFE, 2013). The Independent School Standards guidance states that schools should try to develop SMSC through all parts of the curriculum and link with the everyday running of the school. Every school’s approach ought to be modified depending on the age and ability of the pupils including the individuals who have learning needs (DFE, 2019).  Bailey (2005) believed that participation in curricular Physical Education and sport contributes towards social inclusion and the development of their physical competence.

This essay will examine how Physical Education is a contributing factor to the moral, spiritual, social, intellectual and cultural development of pupils and how the current curriculum incorporates these values. I will also be discussing what I believe could be improved to enhance these aspects within schools. Throughout this assignment evidence will be critically evaluated to emphasise the importance Physical Education commits to the development of students within education.

Main Body

Spiritual Development

Spiritual development involves the growth of how children feel about themselves (self-esteem), their potential to do well, understanding their individual strengths and their determination to achieve (DfEE and QCA, 1999). Spiritual education helps to promote involvement in a variety of sports which helps to develop a number of skills. In school dance is believed to help students express their feelings and emotions using different body movements to show expression. We encourage children to move actively with full effort. This is supported by Bloom (2006) who believes that this can allow strong feelings to be expressed such as anger, joy and love. Spirituality in particular is an important aspect for all human beings as they all need to be given the chance to grow (Lavery and Hay, 2004).

During my PE lessons I like to create a positive learning environment for all age groups taking part in different sports. I create this opportunity for pupils to have a love for the sport and to have a sense of enjoyment. Without the enjoyment and enthusiasm for the lessons, pupils' determination to achieve may decrease (Pascall, 1993).

In accordance with the National Curriculum, religion is not connected to spiritual development. However, Pascall (1993) argues that spiritual development is believed to be open to everybody and is not restricted to people religious beliefs or a particular faith. Furthermore, Robbins et al., (2011) believes that there is a strong correlation between an individual's self esteem and spirituality. This link may be due to religion or it may not.

Mcguire, Cooper and Park (2006) believed spiritual development is comparable to pupils abilities, attitudes and experiences. I believe as educators we should try to encourage children to be spiritual in all lessons, especially PE. At Edenhurst, activities are provided to help develop motor skills and fitness,  leading to a positive mindset for physical activity which in turn will influence motivation to take part in physical activity (Prochaska et al., 2003). Enjoyment is accessible for all children in sport due to the differentiation of activities making the lessons accessible for children meeting their individual needs. Thereby uplifting their feeling towards the sport, if all children can find success in sport either being on the sports field competitively or during PE lessons they will start to feel valued as an individual.

Moral Development

Within teaching there is no set way on how to implement moral values successfully, teachers will use different strategies depending on lessons being taught (Theoduoulides, 2003).

Physical education offers the chance for children to experience, fair play, corporation and competition (Hellison and Templin 1991). Physical education helps children to understand how regularly taking part in physical activity can have a positive impact on their lifestyle. This can be achieved by being part of a sports team and fitness classes. At school we try to develop the children’s moral attitude by developing positive sportsmanship, fair play and following the rules at all times. At Edenhurst, this is achieved by shaking hands at the end of the game, following the rules to small sided games, respecting the referees decisions and to the rules at all time. We encourage all children from the age of reception to respect children and teachers on the playing field.  At the end of any competitive game we perform three cheers for the opposing team, no matter what the result. Within schools it is important to constantly talk about the rules of the activities they take part in and that they abide by them. Children need to understand that they can not always win and that sometimes they have to lose to learn, therefore it is important to learn from their mistakes and to get back to the game. At Edenhurst, we like to be inclusive in sport allowing everyone to take part in competitive sport giving them the opportunity to develop their skills in the sport. This also allows pupils to gain more experience in the sport, to learn from their experience and most importantly to have fun. The youth sport trust currently working with a number of sporting bodies to help provide schools with different formats to be inclusive and different ways sports can be adapted to make it challenging or easier for children ( The youth sports trust, 2020).

In my experience we encourage children to take part in as much physical activity as possible which will have a positive impact on their fitness level and they start to understand the benefits exercise has on their body. We also talk about the importance of being active regularly and healthy and how this has an impact on the whole society.  Whitehead (2010) states that children’s physical literacy and their health in the future could be due to their PE lessons they have at school as well as having an impact later on in life as adults who take part in physical activity. Rhodes et al., (2017) believes that physical activity will have a positive impact on physical, social and mental health.

Weiss and Biedermeier (1990) states behaviour that is seen immoral in sport is crucial for individuals to witness, as it helps with their moral development.  However this can also be perceived as a negative factor, as young children witness a lot of football supporting their local football teams. Therefore, if they see professional footballers swearing and not respecting the referee they will perceive this is acceptable behaviour. As a result of this the football association (FA) have launched a campaign called respect the referee and positively campaign (The football association, 2020). As a result grassroot football is influenced by the environment which will have an impact on the players enjoyment, this should be the case for all children when playing sport. It is important that all children are taught to encourage all players regardless of the team, to respect referees, coaches, teachers and any other spectators. This is supported by Smith et al.,(2017) who believed that teachers and coaches influence the children's moral judgements, learning to cope with success and failure, sportsmanship, team cohesion, fair play attitudes and well-being. 

Social Development

It is suggested by the work of Figley (1984),  that PE teachers help to promote social development using three different methods. These include pupils creating a supportive learning environment, being in situations that confront moral difficulties and teachers using indirect styles of teaching. These are just some of the teaching styles that I have experienced within my teaching so far this year and I continue to develop them as I progress through my teaching.  Social development is explained by Ofsted (2019) as being able to use a variety of social skills in a number of different surroundings, participate in a number of different social settings, accepting different values and beliefs and incorporating the fundamental british values. As teachers we must ensure that we develop social skills within our students across the curriculum not just PE. In PE we encourage pupils to take part in an array of sports working as part of a team, which leads to the children developing a sense of belonging and a valued member of a team. Throughout their school life children are encouraged to use their social skills in a number of different ways such as communication and interaction of working with others in pairs, small groups and whole class collaboration (Bailey, 2005).

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Promoting social education in PE allows students to work as a team which allows individuals to recognise and value the effectiveness of each individual. Brinkley et al., (2017) believes that social responsibility is linked to team sports and states that it has health benefits not only for individuals but for whole group cohesion and performance. Additionally Cronin et al.,(2018) discovered that PE helps to develop team work, goal setting, leadership skills, problem-solving, emotional skills and decision making which links to students experiencing the fun of exercising and the potential to develop a passion for exercise and positive attitude. As mentioned above these are the types of skills that we help to develop at Edenhurst through PE and games lessons regularly each week which could potentially help children in their adult life. This is delivered through a varied and balanced curriculum and offering children the experience to take part in sports such as archery, judo and tri golf during after school activity clubs. During my experience at Edenhurst, the PE department provides opportunities for pupils to be part of the school sports council and sports leaders. This allows children to be enthusiastic about sport in a completely different way instead of competing against other teams, allows children to be a good sporting role model for younger children and have a lot of good ideas to make the PE department better. Bloyce and Smith (2009) supports the idea of creating opportunities for children who don’t particularly like competing in sport but may like to coach or referee through a type of skills programme or leadership programme. I believe that there should be more programmes available in schools which link to the national curriculum to help encourage participation in sport and develop social skills. This could be achieved in a number of ways such as helping out at sports clubs in the local community, working with other pupils in the school including those from different social, religious and ethic backgrounds (sports leaders UK, 2016).

Intellectual Development

Intellectual development is perceived to how children think and how they organise their thoughts.  Children’s intellectual curiosity allows them to be open to alternative ideas and accept ownership of their own learning (Felder, 2004). Davis and Cooper (1934) believed there is a strong correlation between sport participation in schools and academic achievement as well as intellectual achievement. Intellectual development is believed to develop throughout an individual's life. Social Sciences (2017), states that the degree in which an individual learns to think is how they respond to new skills. In my experience, Intellectual development in PE allows students to logically think about the tactics and decisions making used game situations. For example was it the correct decision to use an overhead pass in netball to get the ball closer to the goal, is the team working well in a certain formation in football and were the tactics used to win the game. These are aspects that children and staff constantly think about when playing competitive sports. As a PE teacher I like to provide pupils with the opportunities to investigate in their own learning and take a step back to allow for ownership to take place. This may be providing questions for them to answer for example what tactics can be used during this game to try and out beat an opponent and score more goals. Children learn from past experiences and concentrate on processing information which they may have picked up on in lesson or during an extracurricular club. It is believed that an individual's self-efficacy is influenced by the individuals confidence to do well in sport or any other subject (Bandura, 1993). Most importantly, PE teaches children how to deal with challenging situations, having high levels of resilience,  being able to work as part as a team and showing high levels of respect to other children and staff.

Cultural Development

In my experience, cultural development allows students the opportunity to explore a variety of different sports and explore dances from different cultures. PE is a great opportunity to expose children to sports they don’t normally participate in and learn where they originate from.  At Edenhurst we offer pupils the experience to take part in a range of competitive sports. As a result, this provides pupils with the opportunity to compete against schools from around the county which in turn offers a variety of different cultures. The schools curriculum includes a lot of physical learning and physical activities across the different age ranges and subjects. This is achieved through movement between students in the class which may be due to planned teaching (active Maths and Physical literacy), the learning experience itself, free play during break and lunch time, PE and games (Lynch, 2013). Within the school curriculum at Edenhurst, pupils are given the opportunity to learn different games from different traditions and cultures and explore a range of different dances from around the world including the Haka and why it is performed, Bollywood and Indian dancing, traditional dancing and Irish dancing.  With the ever changing society students are becoming aware of the different cultural attitudes towards physical activity. At Edenhurst we encourage people to promote fundamental British values, which will help to develop their skills and attitudes to participate fully and contribute life in modern Britain. Cagle (2006) states that cultural knowledge, experiences and performance styles combine appropriate practices in an educational setting. It is important as educators that we understand the influences that help us to plan for activities that link to a multicultural society and involve participation in sports (Yan and McCullagh, 2004) .


In conclusion, Physical Education as a subject provides a number of opportunities which help to contribute to social, spiritual, moral, cultural and intellectual development of pupils during their schooling years.  However, with the ever changing society over time the definitions for SMSC are constantly being changed due to the influence of the world. Therefore we must remember that overtime the curriculum will need to be transformed due to the influences of society ensuring that all lessons delivered are inclusive to pupils and meets their individual needs.

In addition, this essay helps to identify that as educators ourselves we play an important role in children's education especially in PE. We help children to discover themselves in a way in which they may not be able to  in the classroom. We provide opportunities for individuals to take part in different cultural sports, competitive sports and making sure they abide by the rules. In my opinion, PE lessons provide pupils the opportunity to learn and develop in a safe and practical environment.

More schemes need to be put into place to help vulnerable children who may not experience a lot of physical activity due to their background or culture which will help them develop socially. However, when it comes to social development there are considerable opportunities for pupils to take part in regular activity and to meet people socially either it being during lunch time and after school club activities or local community clubs. However for a lot of children, they may only be physically active at school due to the after school activities and PE lessons.


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