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From a PE teacher’s perspective, there are clear signs that some students display when they forget their PE kit. So what strategies can help students to remember their PE essentials?

Sometimes they look sheepish and are afraid of the impending consequence, sometimes they adopt a severe limp as they approach the changing rooms, and some have that look of horror when they open their bag and realise they’re missing the crucial items. No matter the school setting, one of the barriers that PE teachers face is pupils who haven’t got the right kit to take part in a lesson. So what can be done?

 1. Preparation, preparation, preparation

Make sure that your class know which day(s) of the week they have PE – a simple “Year 7, your PE days are Monday and Thursday” can be effective, as can questioning pupils in the changing rooms as to when they need their kit. Keep reminding them! You could display this information in the changing rooms as a visual reminder.

 Ask pupils to highlight PE lessons on their timetable, and if possible, set a reminder on their phones – a very useful tool!

 2. Alternatives

This is possibly the simplest way to solve the kit issue. Consider asking Y11 leavers to donate their PE kit back to the school to help build a stock. Storing spare kits in the changing rooms will allow PE staff to lend any missing items to a pupil with minimal fuss, therefore mostly eliminating kit issues. The key to this strategy being successful is keeping the kit clean and ensuring everything is well-labelled as a loan.

 You can also encourage pupils to bring an alternative kit if their kit is in the wash or misplaced.

 3. Positive reinforcement

“You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar” is good advice for PE teachers dealing with kit issues, and it’s really pertinent with lower year groups. When you have a full class in perfect kit, comment on how impressed you are, and link it to a reward – “if we all have perfect kit for the next 2 weeks, we can have a five-a-side tournament” or similar raises the profile of bringing kit, and also encourages peer reinforcement.

4. Sanctions

Ultimately, there will be pupils who are going to forget their kit and you will have to decide how best to react. PE kit expectations should be specifically mentioned in your whole school behaviour policy to ensure that it remains high profile with pupils and parents.

However, it is important to allow PE staff the opportunity to consider their response to pupils in their classes who have come unprepared and offer leniency where appropriate. For example, if a pupil forgets their kit but has a genuine barrier caused by something out of their control, is a detention the appropriate response? If a younger pupil has forgotten their kit for the first time and is upset, would a stronger relationship be built by offering the chance of redemption by borrowing a kit rather than detention be more suitable?

5. PE Kit style

The final consideration is what does your kit look like? Would 14-year-old you have been happy to wear it? Is the kit affordable, comfortable, and well fitted? Do the colours run in the wash? Take student voice around the style of your PE kit and if appropriate, make changes.

In 2019, Mills and Cooling found that:

“girls would prefer a PE kit that was fitted, to allow for comfort and ease of movement, but also that covered certain body parts, including thighs and upper arm.”

This study went on to conclude that allowing adolescent girls a choice in their PE kit could increase participation levels.

To summarise, a large proportion of the battle with PE kit can be won by ensuring that pupils are aware of when they need kit and keeping it high profile. Positive reinforcement and praise help to keep the standards high, combined with an effective sanction policy when required.

 Of course, there will always be pupils who forget their kit, but as long as staff have the support mechanisms to deal with the issue and are supported as appropriate, then the majority of situations can be resolved.

To find out some more information on PE resources then visit our website PEOffice. There are several lesson plans and schemes of work that can help you and your department.

Alternatively, you can phone the team on 01909 776 900 or you can book a free online demonstration here.