Active Primary School Conference

The Active Primary Schools Conference 2023

The Active Primary Schools Conference took place on 17th November 2023.

Over 80 primary school PE teachers, senior leaders, business managers and governors booked to join us at Millennium Point, all on a mission to boost their PE, school sport and physical activity offerings.

The conference was a full day of:

  • keynotes from industry experts;
  • practical and theory-based workshops;
  • and a marketplace full of innovative resources and services

…all with one core goal: To help primary schools engage more children in positive physical activity experiences, enabling those children to lead healthier and happier lives.

Valuable ideas, evidence, case studies, stories, insights, and good practice all were shared, providing schools with action plans they could embed right away.

Keep reading for a round-up of the day’s highlights:


The critical ingredient: ensuring physical literacy for young people in challenging times

Kay Batkin - Network Director– Youth Sport Trust

Kay joined us to discuss policy updates and the School sport and activity action plan. It was highlighted that the current young people of this generation are the most digitally connected but also the most socially disconnected generation of all time. Sports, physical activity and play have the ability to create change. 

Kay revealed that our world is changing and that we are in a 'comfort epidemic'. We seek ways to make our lives easier and technological development is helping us achieve this. This keynote resonated with the audience as Kay finished the speech, where the audience learned that 'Physical literacy is our relationship with movement and physical activity throughout life'.


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Rob Oliver, GB Paralympian

Rob joined us on stage and inspired the audience with his personal journey and struggles. Riding the high of his Paralympic achievement, Rob also won World Championship silver in the same event just two weeks later. It was clear to everyone in the audience that Rob is a talented sportsman. Rob also mentioned how in 2008, he broke his leg during a match, 17 operations and nine months later he had his leg amputated due to medical negligence. Once he realised he could still take part in competitive sport as an amputee he decided to dedicate his life to becoming the very best.

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Behaviour Management in PE

Steph Donovan- With over 20 years of experience as a primary school teacher under her belt, our speaker brings a fresh perspective to PE with her dynamic community and corporate initiatives. A proven leader in PE education, she's still an active primary school teacher while also steering virtual education and content creation at Aspire Active Education.

Drawing from his experience and expertise, Steph:

  • Helped to identify why managing behaviour in PE is difficult.
  • Shared some strategies and tips.
  • Showed practical examples through video footage.
  • Identified action points to move forward with.
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Evidencing Premium Spending

Sue Wilkinson - CEO- AfPE

How can you effectively evidence the use of your school’s PE and sport premium?

Sue Wilkinson delivered a workshop to answer exactly that, and also made sure to include the format online format, which will become mandatory from 2024-2025 academic year.

Delegates were supported to:

  • Effectively evidence the PE Premium fund within their school, focusing on young people who need it most, ensuring the right activity for the right young person
  • Deploy strategies to maximise senior leader support within their school for more effective PE Premium Spending
  • Understand examples of best practices from across the network. 
  • Understand how the new digital tool will provide a further measure of accountability and will help identify any non-compliant spending of the PE and sports premium. As a result, Sue explained what kinds of purchases are and aren't acceptable. 

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Creating Inclusive PE, School Sport and Physical Activity (Practical)

Susan Morrison – LUSU

In her riveting workshop, Susan Morrison from LUSU shined a light on creating an all-inclusive PE environment. Drawing on her wealth of experience, Susan focused on practical strategies to help educators and coaches inspire a more diverse and approachable school sports atmosphere, championing the cause of physical activity for all pupils. Susan made sure to bring loads of different accessibility equipment, which can help build a more inclusive PE environment in school. 

This interactive session placed you at the heart of the action, experimenting first-hand with expert techniques to ensure every child feels seen, heard, and importantly, included. Come and explore ways to make physical education, school sports, and physical activity an empowering journey for every pupil in your charge. Together, we can turn the sports field into a joyful, accepting space where every child thrives. Not only did the delegates get a chance to use and test the equipment, but Susan also highlighted how difficult it can be for some visually impaired children to participate, through the use of tunnel vision goggles.

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Exploring OAA in school activities (Practical)

Mike Chamberlain – Open Minds

Delegates enjoyed getting stuck into this workshop! Mike shared lots of fun practical ideas to help delegates deliver effective Outdoor Adventurous Activities (OAA) lessons whilst making the most use of their own site.

The practical activities promoted co-operation, speaking and listening skills and teamwork. 

The activities Mike shared are currently used in schools successfully, can be adapted by theme or ability, and can be used to focus on elements in Physical Education, PSHE and Citizenship. Additionally, as Open Minds activities are flexible enough to be used in a cross-curricular or thematic approach, aspects of English, science and maths are also included.

Here’s the key points Mike covered:

  • Provided delegates with practical ideas to deliver effective OAA lessons whilst making the most use of their own site
  • Fulfil OAA of PE curriculum
  • Gave delegates lots of ideas for them to design their own Scheme of Work throughout the school

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Get your school moving: Creating a comprehensive PESSPA strategy for whole-school impact

Matt Sadler - Head of the Federation of Boldmere Schools

Matt highlighted a framework for creating a comprehensive PESSPA strategy that could be the key to making your school community more active, inclusive, and health-conscious. His approach is not just about teaching sports or championing physical education - he mentioned that it's about fostering a culture that embraces these values and sees them as vital to personal and community wellness. 

Matt invited the audience to evaluate where their school currently is in relation to PESSPA, and recommended they take the scorecard tool to have a clear idea. Using his experience as a head teacher, Matt identified what his school's current aims are and mentioned, if there are any barriers preventing these aims.

For example, Matt spoke about how Boldmere have overcome timetabling and staffing pressures. Additionally, Matt mentioned the Boldmere pledge and how it highlights a pledge to every child that attends the school from an activity and wellbeing perspective.

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Progression in PE (Practical)

James Latham – Excelsior MAT

James shared insightful strategies for evolving PE teaching practices as pupils transition from the foundational development of Key Stage 1 (KS1) to the more competitive environment of Key Stage 2 (KS2). He discussed how core skills acquired during KS1 are enhanced and put into action during KS2, while also providing pragmatic advice for teachers and PE leads on how to continually grow their expertise in step with pupils' advancing capabilities. 

James also utilised practical examples and demonstrated to the delegates, how they can make slight tweaks to the games to cater for all abilities and capabilities. 

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Primary gymnastics progression (Practical)

Ryan Bradley - Director - RB Gym and Sport

More than just a gymnastics enthusiast, Ryan helped the delegates craft a clear progression plan that aligns seamlessly with the national curriculum. The delegates started the session by learning about movements to get the pupils moving, for instance thinking about how specific animals move. 

This workshop was a great opportunity to enhance teaching skills; it provided the delegates with a chance to gain actionable ideas and inspiration that will represented through their KS1 and KS2 lessons.

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And speaking of dance, it wouldn’t be The Active Primary Schools Conference without a movement break!

A big thank you to Drumba for getting everyone up and energised, keeping spirits high and smiles on faces.

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Sponsor addresses

Headline sponsors of The Active Primary Schools Conference 2023, Real PE and Sports Directory joined us on the day, sharing their incredible resources that empower primary school teachers to deliver better PE.

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We’d like to say a huge thank you to Real PE as well as Sports Directory for being headline sponsors, the day wouldn’t have been possible without you.

And since we’re onto thank yous, there’s a few more we’d like to say:

Speakers and workshop leaders

As you can see from the above, the day was absolutely packed full of valuable content that has the ability to transform primary school PE, sport and physical activity. And so, we would like to say a huge thank you to our speakers and workshop leaders who shared their expertise and experience to help get more children moving and, as a result, transform lives.


Thank you to all of our exhibitors! It is only through collaboration that we can end physical inactivity. We’re incredibly grateful for both your support on the day and the work you do each day to help increase the quality of PE, school sport and physical activity to get more children more active, more often.

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And of course, a big shout out and huge thank you to each and every one of our delegates! Your passion and drive to support your pupils in leading happy and healthy lives is inspiring. Thank you for sharing your ideas, getting stuck in, and striving to do the very best for the children you teach.

Finally, thank you to the Aspire team who all worked so hard to organise and run an impactful conference. And thank you to the Millennium Point for hosting us all.


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