New national body warms up to represent PE teachers

A national organisation has been formed to represent Scotland's PE teachers in a bid to capitalise on major sporting events taking place in the UK.

The Scottish Association of Teachers of Physical Education, which is open to nursery and primary teachers, also aims to share good practice around the country. The association is already up and running but will be officially launched in September, with a national conference to follow in early November.

Some 100 members have been recruited, including representatives for most of Scotland's 32 councils, although the organisers see scope for rapid expansion: there are thought to be 3,500 PE teachers in Scotland, including 2,500 working in state schools.

"The key thing is that this is run by teachers, for teachers," said president Iain Stanger, Aberdeen Grammar's principal teacher of health and well-being and formerly PE development officer for Learning and Teaching Scotland.

A previous national PE association had petered out in the late 1990s, Mr Stanger said; more recently, a Scottish branch of the England-based Association for Physical Education had failed to take off.

"PE has rarely had such an opportunity to affirm its profile in Scottish schools," said Mr Stanger, with the Olympics and Commonwealth Games coming to the UK in quick succession, and national health and well-being coming into focus as never before.

The association, which was started by a group of like-minded PE teachers but will receive some funding from Education Scotland, aims to be more than a lobbying group: it will act as a "conduit" for teachers around Scotland to share resources and ideas, Mr Stanger said.

"We are keen to get teachers involved in their own classroom-based research and get some of that online," he added.

Karen Erskine, the association's representative in South Lanarkshire, believes that it will prove crucial as the curriculum is reformed. The organisation will publish a biannual online journal of good PE practice.

"PE is part of health and wellbeing, and it's sometimes losing its identity," she said, adding that PE teachers could be "quite isolated" from colleagues outside their own authorities. @satpe1.

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