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How to become a PE teacher

If you are passionate about sport, and want to help young people improve their physical fitness and interest in sport, P.E. teaching (or sports coach) could be the job for you.

Working with children and young people can be very rewarding, and knowing that you are helping to develop them in a range of skills and wellbeing is something of which you can be proud.  Here’s a few things you should know about entering the world of teaching physical education.

What does a P.E. teacher do?

The role of a P.E. teacher is to plan and teach a variety of lessons in physical education, to improve physical and social skills, in children of different ages – at either primary (5-11) or secondary (11-16) level.  It’s about sharing your passion for sport, encouraging children to be more active, and to try new sports, as well as giving them the tools to improve physically and mentally.  You will be helping children to develop stronger muscles and co-ordination; understand how the body works and how to keep healthy (i.e. importance of warm up/cool down exercises to reduce injuries etc.); develop healthy body image ideas; and improve confidence both in terms of playing sport and general life.

Key skills and traits required:

  • Good athletic ability and knowledge of the human body
  • Good leadership and communication skills
  • Strong ability to motivate and inspire
  • Good initiative, and problem solving skills
  • Ability to remain calm and show empathy
  • Ability to think on your feet and adapt to changing situations

A day in the life of a P.E. teacher

A full time P.E. teacher is likely to teach several classes each day, which, depending on the setting and age range, could be very different.  It may involve teaching (and coaching) specific sports (especially at secondary level), in a variety of settings (i.e. playground, sports hall, sports field, swimming pool or gymnasium) and each lesson could vary in the level of physical effort needed on your part.  For example, P.E. in primary school, especially for the younger pupils, is very immersive, and you would need to do everything you want the children to do – from star jumps and running on the spot to throwing and catching.  At secondary level, some of the lessons may be more supervisory, so you wouldn’t necessarily need to express the same energy levels (e.g. swimming lessons given from the pool side) for each class.

If you choose to teach at secondary level, you may need more detailed knowledge of a range of sports (e.g. football, rugby, netball, basketball, hockey, athletics, swimming), whereas at primary level, it could be more about finding different fun ways to get children active and interested in exercise and sport, rather than teaching specific sports in depth. 

How to become P.E. teacher

To become a teacher, you do need to obtain a teaching qualification, either at undergraduate or postgraduate level.  For P.E. you could choose to study a sports related degree first (such as our BSc (Hons) Sports Coaching and Physical Education degree) and then continue on to a PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate of Education) – either at primary or secondary level.  Alternatively, you could opt to study a degree that blends sport and a teaching qualification in one, such as our BA (Hons) Secondary Physical Education with QTS degree, or focus on primary education in general with our BA (Hons) Primary Education with QTS.

There are also School Direct options, which allow you to gain your qualification while being based at a specific school (some of which are salaried places, but this isn’t always an option).

If you're still not sure if this is the right career for you, take a look at our What does a Sports Coach do? blog!

Start your journey to being a P.E. teacher

If teaching or coaching is something you’d like to pursue, why not apply to study our BSc (Hons) Sports Coaching and Physical Education degree?

Apply now

Start your journey to being a P.E. teacher

If teaching or coaching is something you’d like to pursue, why not apply to study our BSc (Hons) Sports Coaching and Physical Education degree?

Apply now