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PE partners well on target

Youngest children left behind in race to achieve two hours of exercise a week, report Gillian Bonnett and Jon Slater

Almost two-thirds of pupils at schools involved in a pound;60 million programme to boost sport have reached the government target of two hours a week of PE and games, research reveals.

The youngest children are still falling through the net, however. Only 37 per cent of five and six-year-olds were achieving two hours of sport a week, compared to 86 per cent of Year 7s.

Secondary schools in specialist sports partnerships are spending an average of 110 minutes a week on PE alone. Primary pupils were managing an average of 96 minutes of PE.

More than 8,000 schools are involved in sport partnerships, a central plank of the Government's efforts to improve PE.

Each partnership, which contains a specialist sports college, between four and eight secondaries and up to 45 primary and special schools, receives an average annual grant of pound;270,000.

The schools are expected to use the money to share staff, improve links and ensure their pupils achieve the two-hour target which featured in Labour's 2001 manifesto. Ministers hope that 75 per cent of all schools will make the grade by 2006, rising to 85 per cent two years later.

Some secondary schools like Dayncourt in Radcliffe-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire (see below) have already hit the target.

A survey of 6,500 schools in sports partnerships, for the Department for Education and Skills shows that alongside the traditional football and netball children are being offered skateboarding, angling and bowls.

Evidence from the Office for Standards in Education though suggests that partnership schools were only half as likely to deliver high quality PE as those which got no extra cash.

Two in five secondary lessons or extra-curricular activities were good or better compared to three-quarters of lessons nationally, according to a letter sent to Lord Moynihan, the shadow sports minister, by David Bell, the chief inspector of schools.

Lord Moynihan said: "These figures show just how far this Government is from reaching its target of offering every child two hours of high quality PE and school sport."

The DfES said the Ofsted results did not show specialist partnerships were performing worse than the national average.

A spokeswoman said: "They are comparing different lessons and different schools and using different methods.

"This is a meaningless and misleading comparison and is a disservice to the considerable improvement that schools in school sport partnerships are making in improving PE lessons."

Evidence from Ofsted showed teaching standards were improving, she said, while the DfES still expected to reach its two-hours-a-week target by 2006.


What makes a good PEsports lesson

* Clear objectives for example "to improve pupils' technique in two badminton shots"

* Use of visual images using ICT and video clips to show pupils where the shot should be struck to send the shuttlecock in the right direction

* Secure subject knowledge as pupils practise the shot the teacher identifies difficulties and questions pupils on how they can improve technique

* Attention to detail pupils watch the video clips again and through focused questions identify strengths in the observed technique

* Challenge pupils play a game which requires them to play the shots gaining points for correct execution

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