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Drillies sweat out the aggro

Pupils are less aggressive and cause fewer incidents in class when they take part in regular physical education, according to evidence unearthed by the European Commission.

Children improve their concentration in lessons that follow PE and find them easier to follow. On a different front, sport in school can compensate for the deterioration in values if pupils learn to accept the rules and norms of activities.

The claims for the wide-ranging benefits of PE emerged this week as the Commission lent its support to the Scottish end of the European Year of Education through Sport (EYES). Frank McAveety, Scotland's Sports Minister, was at Hyndland Secondary in the west end of Glasgow to promote the EYES website.

A key aim of the Year of Education through Sport - motto "Move your body, stretch your mind" - is to expand PE in schools and make lessons more appealing to larger numbers. Teachers are being invited to introduce "new trend" sports and games that tap particular interests.

The Commission accepts that young people across Europe are taking less and less exercise and becoming increasingly overweight and unfit. "Due to lack of exercise and an unhealthy diet, up to 80 per cent of all eight to 18-year-olds now suffer from bad posture. One child in three between the ages of six and eight spends up to 30 hours a week in front of the television or computer screen," it states.

"So it is hardly surprising that participation in sports is on the decline and the proportion of overweight schoolchildren is rising. One in every four children is affected."

It says scientists agree that regular exercise is significant in child development, physically and psychologically. But PE at school is often the only opportunity young people have to take part.

At Hyndland, Lizzie Young, aged 17, is an example of how taking part in PE and sport can impact positively on education and lifestyle. As well as studying PE at Standard and Higher, she is a regular at after-school clubs, plays for the senior basketball team and coaches younger children.

"As well as learning about things like maths and English, by working with younger children as well as participating in sport myself I am also learning how to communicate well and develop myself as a young adult and role model to other children," she said.

The strong values message is not lost on Allan Mann, also 17. "The social aspect of PE compared to other subjects is very important," he states.

Glasgow hopes to make its mark on the Year of Education through Sport by organising a European conference on participation and retention rates for PE.

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