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Expert Comment: 'Not enough strenuous activity' in school PE

0189 Mr Edd Pitt Monday 18 February 2013

Edd Pitt, Lecturer in Sport Coaching at Liverpool Hope, looks at Ofsted's call for more strenuous PE lessons in schools.

The recent report on the state of PE within English schools suggests some causes for concerns. The report carried out by Ofsted has highlighted that there is not enough strenuous activity in many PE lessons from primary right through to secondary classes. Ofsted further suggest that teachers in such lessons spend too much time explaining things and lack specialist training.

Understanding this report is rather complicated as the root of the issue is rather multi-faceted. In one respect the present coalition government wishes to change the focus of school PE in an attempt to associate itself with the supposed ‘Olympic Legacy’ of London 2012 (something which is yet to bare fruition). Such a wish is essentially at odds with the previous Labour administrations goal of increasing lifelong sport participation. This issue is further confounded if we appreciated the fact that it was, in fact, the coalition who abolished the school sports partnership which could have been the very vehicle to implement increased competitive sports in schools. Although a partial retraction of funding cuts was announced in 2011, such funding now has been removed and we are yet to be made aware what the government plans to do.

It is not surprising that the standard of PE has dropped in recent years if we consider the fact that new teachers embarking upon a career in Primary schools have only received the bare minimum training in Physical Education. This issue in recent times has been tackled by schools ‘buying in’ specialist sport coaches or using one or two specialists within the existing staff. Under new plans to make PE part of the core curriculum for KS1 and KS2 this could change but it is unclear as yet how this will be implemented.

It seems though that the present government and Michael Gove in particular are concentrating their efforts upon increasing academic standards. It is yet to be seen what effect this will have upon school PE, but one issue that will undoubtedly not help the problem is the removal of ring fenced funding for PE. Schools are now able to spend the money they are given on what they deem important. The question of how important PE is to the school our children attend therefore remains. The future of school PE seems a little murky. However what I am confident about is that the teachers, teaching PE are extremely hard working and committed. It seems that successive curriculum and government changes coupled with funding cuts are probably the root cause of the present problem.

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