Ludicrous attack on country running

I am writing regarding the advice in a key stage 4 citizenship textbook (from Coordination Group Publications) that cross-country running can constitute child abuse (Overheard in the staffroom, TES, August 11).

For many people, the joy of running freely across an open moor, by a fast-flowing river, or a grassy meadow with a group of friends, is difficult to match.

Cross-country running can be a fulfilling, exciting and energising activity, promoting good health, fitness and self-esteem. Hundreds of thousands of people, young and old, choose to run across country every week. They do so on their own, with colleagues, or at clubs, schools and universities. To suggest that running itself is abuse is ludicrous.

Running is a fundamental movement and, like other fundamentals, it should be taught, enjoyed and developed through education. PE classes should involve running in all its diversity - fast, sustained, as an essential element of nearly all sport, and as a form of creative expression.

In an age where children run less than ever before, running is an increasingly essential element in formal education. It should be presented in a way that is fun, developmental and supportive.

Sometimes learning should challenge the learner to go beyond the comfort zone - to reach into new territory, to achieve higher levels.

I have confidence that while some in the past might have had bad experiences of cross-country running at school, such experiences are now rare.

We must support teachers in developing engaging, fun and progressive ways to teach running and do our best to ensure that running is an activity that is eagerly anticipated and never feared.

Callum Orr

Head of Coaching Training

UK Athletics Limited

Athletics House

Blythe Valley Park

Solihull, West Midlands

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