Let's get physical

25th November 2005 at 00:00
Eileen Marchant is right to be concerned about the use of coaches to deliver physical education in place of primary class teachers (TESS, November 4). The intentions of teaching and the intentions of coaching are different, and coaching tends to be sport-related.

Children need to experience a physical education curriculum which is developmental and progressive, and which has breadth and balance and is not dominated by games and sport.

However, while I agree that class teachers are best placed to know their children and how they learn, I am not sure that they are always the best people to teach children PE. Studies suggest that, due to the small PE component in initial teacher education, class teachers tend to lack both subject knowledge and content knowledge. This in turn impacts on the quality of provision of PE.

The Scottish Executive's PE review group was set up in response to two key reports which were somewhat critical of the PE provision in schools, especially in primary schools which did not have support from specialist PE teachers.

The review group made wide-ranging recommendations for improving the provision of PE in schools, of which two have particular resonance for the primary sector: every primary school cluster must have adequate access to a specialist teacher of PE, and class teachers should have PE-related CPD opportunities.

The role of the class teacher in the delivery of two hours of quality PE is critical, so PE-related CPD for class teachers is an essential ingredient of quality PE. The expectation is that children will benefit from the specialist teacher and the class teacher working in partnership to provide quality physical education experiences for all children.

Chris Wood PE specialist Albert Place Stirling

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