By Helen Ostell (ITT Consultant)

Working as a DfE Associate, supporting providers around stage two readiness, has made me think about which aspects of the curriculum I would deliver through ITAP if I were still the Director of a specialist Physical Education (PE) SCITT.

What follows is an overview of the focus areas I would select, the rationale for these choices, where each would fit in the wider curriculum, how the ITAP blocks would be structured and the use of experts.

Focus Areas

Five key areas immediately spring to mind, which I would potentially reduce to four:

  • Routines and Transitions
  • Effectively Linking Learning Objectives, Activities, and Plenaries
  • Explanations and Demonstrations (Modelling)
  • Questioning or Feedback
  • Adapting ‘in the moment’ Teaching

Subject to being well planned and delivered I feel that these would meet the requirements of the 2024/25 ITT Criteria.  Each is sufficiently granular and selected from a broader curriculum strand.  For example, the ITAP on routines and transitions is selected from the behaviour management strand and the one on questioning from the assessment strand etc.  All can be put into practice immediately and all have the potential to impact on trainees’ classroom practice irrespective of context.

Rationale for Choices

These choices are based on things that are quite specific to PE, things that the trainees I worked with traditionally found difficult, or things that I believe are important for trainees to master before being able to move on to the next stage of their development.

Establishing clear routines and smooth transitions is important in practical PE lessons if trainees are to maximise learning time and minimise low level disruption.    How many times have you observed a trainee sending a whole class of thirty students to collect a piece of equipment all at the same time from the same area, or students waiting between each phase of a games lesson while a trainee frantically runs around setting out cones or setting up pitches, or the equipment being left on the field at the end of the lesson?    Equally, it is important that PE trainees can give clear and concise explanations supported by high quality demonstrations.  This is particularly pertinent when teaching outside in the winter to minimise periods of inactivity and when teaching complex skills such as a lay-up shot in basketball or a somersault in trampolining.   How many trainees have you observed giving a lengthy explanation with no demonstration to support it, leaving students with no visual image of what they should be practising?

It is imperative that trainees understand the principles of planning and in particular the importance of the links between learning objectives, activities, and plenaries if students are to make progress.  Too often this was set as a target during first placement either because trainees had selected their activities first then made their learning objectives match or because mini plenaries were forgotten about and/or plenaries rushed.  Likewise, later in the year a common target was one linked to adaptive teaching and to using the knowledge they were gathering from on-going formative assessment to adapt ‘in the moment’ teaching, rather than waiting until the next lesson to make adaptations.

Finally, effective questioning is key if trainees are to have a clear picture of what students know and understand.  This is important to get right if they are to then adapt their teaching accordingly.

Whilst these choices are quite specific to the context of my former provision, they will also be relevant to other subjects and phases if contextualised appropriately.


The timing of each ITAP is crucial and would be linked to the wider curriculum sequence and to trainees’ stages of development to achieve maximum impact.

Early ITAP blocks, such as routines and transitions and effectively linking learning objectives, activities, and plenaries, would become part of training on behaviour management and how pupils learn respectively and would take place prior to first placement to provide solid foundations on which to build during the rest of the year.    Others, such as questioning and adapting ‘in the moment’ teaching would become part of training on assessment and adaptive teaching and would be introduced at pivotal points in trainees’ development to build on prior learning.   All would act as springboards to future practice.


Each ITAP would last for either four or five days, depending on if I decided to deliver four or five.  The curriculum structure that I had would lend itself to each being blocked into either one full week or the end of one week and the beginning of the next to maintain intensity.

The structure of each would initially be informed by Pam Grossman’s five-element framework:

  • Introduce
  • Analyse
  • Prepare
  • Enact
  • Assess

In essence, during each ITAP trainees would:

  • Have some taught content, engage with research, and make links to the relevant CCF statements.
  • Observe and deconstruct practice in a variety of general and PE specific contexts.
  • Have time to plan for a range of practice scenarios.
  • Practice, get feedback, refine plans and re-practice specific skills in both low and higher stakes environments.
  • Reflect on what they had learnt. It is important that those planning ITAP blocks are clear about what they want trainees to know, understand and be able to do by the end of each block.  This will ensure that each ITAP develops trainees’ knowledge, understanding and skills and that trainees are then able to reflect against these three things, set clear targets for future practice and understand the links between theory and practice.

Use of Experts

Experts would play a key role in all aspects of each ITAP and selecting the right experts would be crucial to the success of each and would determine where each would take place.   Experts could include Course Leaders, School Senior Leaders, Lead Mentors, Subject Specialists or General Mentors and may differ for each ITAP.   All would need to receive training and if General Mentors were used, strong quality assurance processes would need to be in place.  ITAP settings could include Lead Schools, Specialist Schools, or Placement Schools.  Where Placement Schools are used it must be made clear to Mentors that ITAP is additional to and different from normal placements.


If anyone would like to discuss the information above in more detail or talk through your own choices and thoughts, please do not hesitate to get in touch on pe@nasbtt.org.uk.

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