Kate Hoey, who took over from Tony Banks in the summer reshuffle, told a Sport England conference in London that PE teachers should start later in the morning and spend more time on after-school or Saturday sport.
Ms Hoey, in her first major speech since taking office, said school sport would be at the heart of the Government's new sports' policy, to be published early next year. "Action is urgently needed if we are to rescue the future of sport in this country," she said.
But her proposal was criticised by the Secondary Heads Association which said that PE teachers must be given the same terms as their colleagues. Education and Employment Secretary David Blunkett has promised that working hours will not be affected by plans for performance pay.