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Monday, June 24, 2013

Some thoughts on PE in school

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson's report on PE in schools, which recommends that physical education be made a core subject in Welsh schools, with all teachers required to demonstrate proficiency in PE as part of their training is certainly intriguing. That is especially so as it seems to be the only recommendation.

However, I can immediately see some problems, not least that such a regime only partly addresses the record childhood obesity levels in Wales. We need to educate parents and children on healthy eating as well and I am astonished that there are no recommendations along those lines.

But here are some other thoughts:

1. Isn't the curriculum already overcrowded enough? Surely if we try to do everything we will do nothing well.

2. How do we get over the poor perception of PE in schools both by pupils and their parents. There are many people who spent their school days avoiding physical education because they considered the lessons often amounted to the ritual humiliation of less-fit children.

3. What about informal sports such as the lunchtime soccer game? How do we get more kids involved in that sort of activity?

4. How do we engage the less-fit children? Don't lessons need to be tailored to each child's level of fitness and inclinations if we are really to engage? How does compulsory PE deal with that?

It may well be that when I read the report that some of these questions are addressed in it. However, from what I have seen so far we are being asked to put in place a simplistic solution for a complex problem.

Update: these thoughts were not meant to be comprehensive so I am happy to acknowledge comments via Twitter that active travel and play are also important components in getting school children fitter.
Gosh, when I was at grammar school over 20 years ago the lunchtime soccer game was everything as well as rugger or cricket after school, three times a week cross country jogging in the morning to wake us up. now it's silly little video games on phones..
Over here (in the USA) high schools often have major investments in sports kit including stadiums - where there is still competition to do well in track and traditional sports like American football, baseball and basketball. There is fanatic support in schools and children who do well in sports get tuition scholarships which are a big deal here - and which should be a big deal in the UK - since UK students now pay for their university education.
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