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Sport and gender stereotypes

I would like to use this opportunity to reply to some of the comments made in the article "Sitting on the sidelines" on girls and competitive games (TES, June 9).

I agree entirely that the revised national curriculum Order for PE, with its emphasis on team games, is potentially a regressive step. However, I take exception to the assertion that it is unfair to girls per se. Having spent many years promoting equality of opportunity in physical education and encouraging girls (and boys) to overcome gender stereotyping, it is disappointing to see colleagues who still view our subject solely in gender terms. I believe that all our students are individuals and that each have their own preferences, strengths and weaknesses. To suggest that girls (meaning all girls) do not enjoy games merely reinforces stereotyping at its most basic and ill-informed level.

Through my own research in this area, I am convinced that it is not valid to make such generalised statements.

Many girls enjoy and can benefit from team games in addition to individual activities. Similarly, many girls and many boys do not enjoy many - if any - team games. Hence the need for a carefully though-out curriculum which provide far more than the basic national curriculum.

To suggest that girls can be lumped together for any statement in relation to education simply because of their gender is, I believe, invalid, sexist and too simplistic to be of any value.

C P NELLIGAN (Teacher of Physical Education) Fitzharrys School Northcourt Road Abingdon Oxon

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