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Boost PE, say teachers

Whether to fight childhood obesity or give pupils a chance to let off steam, almost a third of primary teachers would like to see PE given a bigger slot in the timetable.

Asked in The TES poll which non-core subjects they thought should have more time, 29 per cent chose PE, making it the most popular option on the list, which also included design and technology, geography, history, music, art, IT and RE.

Margaret Talbot, chief executive of the Association for Physical Education, said: "I'm not surprised by this in many ways. Children, particularly in early years and key stage 1, are active little creatures. They need to be active and they learn through activity.

"Teachers know how many children are desperately overweight and unfit. And children like PE. Virtually all the systematic research about children's attitudes to PE in primary school suggest that it is their favourite subject."

Professor Talbot estimated that 50 per cent of primary newly-qualified teachers had 10 hours training or less in PE, leading to a lack of confidence in teaching the subject.

She said: "They know that for a broad and balanced curriculum they should do more physical education, but they do not get the preparation."

Colin Moynihan, chairman of the British Olympic Association, said: "The children of today are our Olympic champions of tomorrow and it is essential that they are given a fit and healthy start to life."

The association backed the government target to raise the minimum time for PE and sport to four hours a week, he said.

Of the teachers polled, 82 per cent opposed cutting the time spent on the non-core subjects. Fifty-one per cent did not think any on the list should get more time. A total of 92 per cent thought there were no subjects in the primary curriculum which either schools or pupils should be allowed to drop. Among those who did think certain subjects should be to dropped the most cited were for RE and design and technology, both on 3 per cent.

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