Physical Education

Physical education, experienced in a safe and supportive environment, is vital and unique in its contribution to our students’ physical, social, intellectual and emotional development and well-being. From the starting points of developing fundamental movement skills, our individualised therapy programmes and the P.E. curriculum aim to increase students’ awareness and control of their bodies so they become confident movers in a variety of situations.

In accordance with the ethos of Ellen Tinkham School and College, in PE :

Everyone will be the best that they can be

  • Students have the opportunity to take part in physical activities that enable them to maintain, develop and improve mobility, gain fitness, improve stamina, learn and develop physical skills
  • Students are given the opportunity to take part in competitive sport individually and as members of a team, learning co-operation, leadership, fair play, resilience and sportsmanship
  • Students are signposted towards community based activities in specific sports for which they show special interest or ability

No-one is excluded

  • Student groupings and sessions allow for suitable activities to be planned which engage and motivate
  • Many extra-curricular Outdoor Learning opportunities are provided, allowing students to try new challenges in many different environments

Everyone has a voice

  • Responses are made to student requests to have a go at a particular physical activity – this may be in class lessons, at lunch-times, out of school, and at inter-school events
  • In KS 4 and above, students preference their chosen physical activity – this may be structured PE lessons, playing inclusive sports, being part of a walking group, using the fitness gym, or carrying out individualised therapy programmes
  • Responses are made to actions from students’ Annual Reviews – this may include fitness, additional activity session, learning to ride a bike

Swimming and Outdoor Learning are integral parts of students’ physical learning opportunities.


Developing confidence in and around water, becoming aware of water safety and learning to swim takes place in sessions in the school hydrotherapy pool and at other pools in Exeter. The Swim England programme of Alpha Step, Duckling, Learn to Swim and Personal Survival awards form the basis of target setting and monitoring progress for individual students. Students are taught body awareness and management in the water, water skills and confidence, swimming with aids leading to swimming unaided, stroke technique, personal survival and basic water rescue skills, working towards nationally recognised awards.

Outdoor Learning

The Outdoor Adventure learning aim is simple – to get students out of the classroom, support them to be happier, healthier and more motivated to learn.

Our target audience includes those individuals who find the classroom environment challenging and are more motivated to learn outdoors, who may have low self-esteem and resilience, those who have particular sensory processing needs, and who have particular skill sets and interests relating to the outdoors and adventure!

By taking learners out of their comfort zone we will challenge them in ways they have not been challenged before, give them strategies and skills that they can use at school and home, meet their sensory processing needs, and harness their individual abilities. Opportunities may include cycling, moor walking, kayaking, climbing and conservation work.

The impact is wide ranging, but evidence suggests that through outdoor and adventurous learning, young people will become more confident, develop their ability to engage and focus, be more resilient, improve their self-perception, and have a greater awareness and understanding of responsibility and consequence. We hope to foster and develop a love of the outdoors and nature and help our learners aspire to greater things.


The PE curriculum helps to promote development of physical skills, co-ordination, ball skills, postural stability and balance alongside body and spatial awareness. Physiotherapy advice and /or specific individual programmes run in conjunction with adapted PE activities for those children who are identified as needing additional physiotherapy support in this area. Learners may be identified as requiring hydrotherapy, rebound therapy or specific targeted physiotherapy input to help their physical development; these individual programmes are followed as advised by their physiotherapist.

Early Years and Key Stage 1 – In Early Years and Key Stage 1, students have the opportunity to explore and develop fundamental movement skills through apparatus circuits sessions in the school hall, outdoor PE sessions and active play-times.

Key stage 2 – Structured PE lessons in KS 2 enable students to learn and develop physical skills and apply them in the different areas of games, gymnastics, dance, outdoor activities and team-building, and athletics.

Key Stage 3 & 4  – In KS 3 and 4, the PE curriculum focus is on learning games and sport specific skills, and using and applying them in a range of team games. There are many opportunities for taking part in competitive sport through our involvement with the Exeter School Sport Partnership and in liaison with other local special schools.

Key Stage 5 – At KS 5, students may opt to attend Sport and Leisure sessions during their timetabled social time; each week they choose a sport they all enjoy playing.

At Ellen Tinkham College, the fitness gym is used to work on individual fitness programmes; all class groups based at college are able to access the gym on a rota basis.

Extra-curricular and Enrichment activities

  • Visits to the Donkey Sanctuary
  • Horse-riding sessions
  • Trampolining taster sessions
  • Advanced Trampolining group
  • Walking groups
  • Intra and inter-school matches and competitions
  • KS 3 and KS 4 football teams
  • Karate
  • Scooter, tricycle and bike riding
  • Gym Club
  • Walking and exploring on Dartmoor
  • Climbing – including clip n’ climb
  • Free running/Parkour
  • Conservation work with the Devon Wildlife Trust

Everyone will be the best they can be; Everyone has a voice; No-one is excluded.