The General Teaching Council for Scotland

Enhancing professionalism in education since 1965

Fit for life

The development of skills for learning, life and work in Physical Education

Kirsty Park, St Mungo’s High School

Research question

How aware are pupils and parents of the ability of Physical Education to develop skills for learning, life and work?


The Wood Commission identified that 53,000 young people are not in education, employment or training. Teaching pupils skills for learning, life and work is essential for the economic success and wellbeing of Scotland (Scottish Government, 2014), and will help students to develop as lifelong learners.

Physical Education (PE) has the capacity to develop many skills for learning, life and work. However, PE is often seen as important for developing only physical skills and performance. As PE is a national requirement in a pupil’s education, it is important to ensure that all pupils are gaining as much from the experience as possible. The Significant Aspects of Learning in PE are split into four sections: cognitive skills, physical competences, personal qualities and physical fitness. Laker (2000) suggests that with an effective delivery of PE, society and communities will benefit from the outcomes. Personally, I knew how much PE has to offer and I wanted to investigate whether this was recognised more widely.


I offered all S3 pupils in core PE classes a questionnaire to find out about their views of PE. S3 was selected because the following year these pupils would be embarking on work placements, with some students choosing to leave school. I also captured parent views and the views of staff within the PE department through the questionnaire.


  • There were mixed responses from parents regarding PE’s ability to develop skills for learning, life and work. Several parents highlighted that PE can develop skills in team work and resilience.
  • Pupils were not familiar with the term “skills for learning, life and work”. However, pupils identified that teamwork was something that they thought could transfer into other subjects and outwith school.
  • PE department staff were very positive and highlighted how our subject has the ability to develop the skills for learning, life and work. These are shared through Learning Intentions and Success Criteria, if they are explicitly mentioned.

Next Steps

I plan to share my findings with the PE Department and facilitate a discussion to see how we can ensure that our pupils are aware of skills for learning, life and work.

This could be something as simple as giving the pupils a few minutes at the end of the lesson to think, pair up and share ideas as to how they could transfer the skills that they were using in PE into other subjects and outwith school.

I also plan to create a display on one of the noticeboards outside the PE changing rooms.


  • Laker, A. (2000) Beyond the Boundaries of Physical Education: Educating young people for citizenship and social responsibility, Routledge: London.
  • Scottish Government (2014) Wood Commission- Education Working For All! Commission for Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce Final Report.

Read more

Kirsty’s Sway presentation can be viewed online at:

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Editor contact: Evelyn Wilkins

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