What are your memories of school PE lessons? I remember mine well – infact I think I’m still thawing out from years of standing on a frozen hockey pitch in sub zero temperatures!
Despite my blog promoting health and fitness for children, I admit that PE wasn’t my favourite subject in school! Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t the fat kid who never got picked but I wasn’t the popular, good-at-all sports kindda gal either! I could run fast and throw really, really far – for a girl, like!
Energetic, shouty, PE teachers bouncing around getting us to, ‘jump higher’, ‘run faster’, ‘slogger it’, ‘throw further’ and ‘CAAAAAATCH’!!!! Urgh – I still feel the pain of that fat kid who never ran fast enough, caught a single ball or knew how to jump – let alone, hop-skip in front of it! In my opinion PE has always been a bit military and a source of ever-lasting humiliation for the kids who just aren’t that great at it.
Latest reports by the NHS show that a third of primary school children in the UK are considered overweight or obese, so whose fault is this? Parents surely have to be answerable to this overall, but when your child spends 6 – 7 hours a day within the school gates there is an argument to suggest that schools could be doing more to promote an active lifestyle.
At present the national curriculum advises a minimum of 2 hours of PE each week for primary and high school children, so considering 30 hours a week are spent at school – is 2 hours really enough? In my opinion, no, not at all. Of course that’s easy for me to say whilst sat on my backside basking in the warm glow of my work computer all day – but I do believe a new approach should be taken in regards to physical education.
In academic subjects, children are often split into groups according to their ability and can receive extra support and tuition if it becomes apparent that they are falling behind. This is obviously excellent and long may it continue, but in physical education this is not the case as children of all shapes, sizes, abilities and
motivations are thrown together and told to MOVE!!!! The physical capabilities between children are so glaringly obvious and it’s easy to see how a life-long hatred of playing sport and can be born from the humiliation suffering during those school PE lessons.
As the saying goes, ‘If I was Prime Minster’…… I would implement an hour of exercise every day for school children and I would look at the quality of that exercise. A recent report by Ofstead has found that schools are failing to provide effective PE lessons with children not having enough ‘physical strenuous activity’ and teachers ‘talking too much.’ Under my rule, children would be split into mixed ability – as they are academically. This doesn’t have to be painstaking, all that would be required is two groups; the able and less able, if you like. Each group can then enjoy PE lessons tailored to their abilities with the able children being challenged and nurtured and the less able being introduced to sport at their own pace without ridicule from the able!
Teachers are under massive pressure to produce academically bright children and parents might be concerned that extra PE is deviating away from their child’s studies, but we already know that exercise improves concentration, mental development, behaviour and sleep patterns, so where’s the problem? The government should look to relieve some of the academic curriculum pressures and allow teachers time to plan a structured PE timetable for pupils. Of courses schools can’t be expected to un-pick the work of a slovenly home life where fast food and a slow metabolism contribute to the expanding waistline of the nation, but it’s certainly going to help.
Let’s get it right – let’s teach physical education properly and make it enjoyable and hopefully our children will take exercising habits into adulthood, along with fond memories of those school PE lessons!!
By Laura Dutton