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Survey of parents views - Changing for PE in school or wearing PE kit to school on PE days

Dear Parents/ Carers,


As you know, this term COVID restrictions have been lifted and we have returned to most of the routines and procedures that were in place before the first lockdown in March 2020.


One of these routines has been to return to asking children to bring their PE kit into school and change in class for PE. This has been the procedure at Regents Park and at most primary schools for many years. Children from Nursery to Year 4 have changed together in their own class supervised appropriately by their class teacher or by the teacher who is leading their PE lesson. Children in Year 5 and Year 6 have been organised within the year group into boys and girls groups and changed separately, again supervised appropriately by class teachers or teachers leading PE lessons; this has been because some children in these year groups are beginning to go through puberty and we have been sensitive to how they feel as they become more body conscious.


One of the reasons that children have been asked to change into PE kit at school for PE has been for reasons of hygiene, i.e. the children learn that when they exercise, they sweat and it is not healthy to wear sweaty clothes or PE kit all day. Children can develop fungal and bacterial infections wearing sweaty clothes; there can also be problems with body odour, especially for older children, and staying in sweaty clothes can cause chills and make children susceptible to cold and body aches.


It has also been the case that changing for PE in school allows younger children to develop their independence from parents and learn how to dress themselves, e.g. putting jumpers on, buttoning up shirts, putting shoes on and tying up laces, etc.


When children began to return to school after the lockdown in June 2020, we followed advice from the local authority on how to miminise the risk of transmitting the COVID-19 virus between home and school. To help with this, children were discouraged from bringing bags, lunchboxes, books and PE bags to and from home. A decision was made that at Regents Park, as well as at other schools, whilst COVID restrictions were in place, we would allow children to come into school on PE days in their PE kits and this is what children did throughout the 2020-21 school year.


Whilst we had some concerns about children’s hygiene, there were some benefits, the most important of which was the increased time available for teaching PE. Children can be quite slow at getting changed for PE at the start and end of lessons; being already changed for PE meant there was more time available for children to be learning in their PE lesson. It also meant that there was less opportunity for some children to misbehave when changing.


Whilst these are positive benefits of coming into school already dressed for PE, there were some drawbacks. During the last year we have seen a slow and steady drop off in standards of children wearing school uniform. As the year went on, some children began coming to school in tracksuits, t-shirts, leggings and trainers every day. Even on PE days, some children weren’t wearing our PE kit uniform. The lines between what is correct school uniform and what is correct PE kit uniform were being blurred.


Another issue was that if a PE lesson needed to be postponed at the last minute, it made it difficult to move PE to another day if children didn’t have their PE kit in school, e.g. if PE is postponed outside because of bad weather.


With COVID restrictions lifted, we weighed up the pros and cons of asking children to either continue wearing PE kit on PE days or return to what was in place before March 2020 with children coming into school with their PE bag and getting changed in class. We decided that due to the concerns about children’s hygiene and also due to the impact that children coming in to school in PE kit was having on the standards of school uniform, we would return to asking children to bring PE kit in and change for PE in school.


Last week I spoke to a parent who explained to me that she feels uncomfortable about her child changing for PE with other children and being supervised by teachers whilst doing so. She asked why it was not possible that children continue to come to school in PE kit on PE days as they did last year. I explained the reasons including hygiene and the impact on school uniform and why we had gone back to what we had always done before. However, the parent’s view was that children changing together at any age and being supervised by a teacher in school was a safeguarding concern.


I am aware that this is a view that the parent has shared at the school gate with other parents and I have to make it clear that I completely disagree that there is any safeguarding concern regarding children changing together in school and being supervised by teachers. As you know, we take our safeguarding duty in school extremely seriously and are committed to ensuring all of our children are safe and protected from harm of any kind. All of our staff and any adults that work in school are carefully vetted and we continue to ensure that no one is ever put in a vulnerable position in terms of safeguarding. At our last inspection, Ofsted were very complimentary about the safeguarding procedures we have in place and the checks we undertake to keep all our children safe.


In terms of children changing for PE in school, these arrangements have been in place during the whole of the 7 years that I have been at Regents Park. There has never previously been an issue brought to my attention by parents about these arrangements or a safeguarding concern raised around children changing together or staff supervising them whilst changing. These arrangements were in place when Ofsted carried out their last inspection and inspectors would have observed these procedures in place.


That being said, I have had time to consider the parent’s view, as well as take advice from the local authority, speak to other Head teachers in the local area and across Birmingham and speak to staff within school. I think it may be possible to go back to what we did last year and allow children to come to school in PE kit but I would like to get the views of ALL parents on this issue before making a decision so I will be sending out a link to a short survey which I would ask you to complete so you can give me your opinion.


The question I’m asking you is whether, as a parent, you would prefer your child to change into PE kit on PE days in school or come to school already in PE kit on PE days.


To summarise the arguments for changing into PE kit in school or wearing PE kit to school on PE days, see below:


Bringing and changing into PE kit in school

Wearing PE kit to school on PE days

  • More hygienic – children don’t have to spend all day in sweaty PE clothes
  • Helps younger children to be more independent and learn how to dress/ undress themselves, do buttons up, tie laces, etc
  • Clear expectations about school uniform – children look smarter coming into school in uniform and when not doing PE
  • If there is bad weather or a last-minute timetable change, teachers can be flexible about when PE takes place during the week
  • Removes time taken up changing in school and means more teaching time for PE
  • Less opportunity for misbehaviour when changing
  • Supports children who may feel anxious changing in front of others
  • Supports parents who may have concerns about children changing in front of others.


Should we decide to allow children to wear PE kit to school on PE days, please note the following:

  • There will be clear expectations about what children are expected to wear on PE days and on non-PE days and all children will be expected to wear correct school uniform and PE kit uniform
  • Children in Year 3 (or in any other year group) who go swimming will have to change together (although in separate male/ female changing areas) and be appropriately supervised by school staff
  • Children taking part in clubs and sports teams may have to change together after school – some children take part in lots of after-school activities but it will not be possible to wear sports kit to school every day, only on PE days
  • We will review any change to our routines and procedures and may alter them again with notice to parents.


Thank you for your continued support - Please take the time to complete the short survey by clicking the following link: