PE drive fails to hit Peacock's target

20th January 2006 at 00:00
Only one in 20 primary pupils receives the Scottish Executive target of two hours of PE a week, according to the first definitive official figures. It is only marginally better in secondaries.

"This clearly isn't good enough," Peter Peacock, the Education Minister, said in response to the survey by his education department.

Mr Peacock stepped up the PE drive in June 2004 by announcing his aim by 2008 of two hours of PE for all pupils in primary and secondary but the figures for 2004-05 show how far schools have to jump to make the target.

In primaries, the average amount of timetabled PE is 70 minutes, rising in secondaries to 100 minutes. Most pupils in S5 and S6 do no curriculum PE.

The top authority for primary PE is Angus, with an average of 97 minutes, while Orkney comes bottom with 56 minutes. In the secondary sector up to S4, Scottish Borders has the highest average of 113 minutes and the Western Isles comes bottom with 66 minutes.

The minister called on councils "to take significant new steps to make real progress". He has written to authorities about his concerns.

His PE message follows an SNP campaign over New Year which warned that schools faced shortages of specialist teachers, even with the recruitment drive in teacher training. More PE teachers would not compensate for a wave of retirements over the next few years, the SNP claimed.

Mr Peacock, however, responded by highlighting a ten-fold increase in PE recruits and re-emphasising his commitment to 400 extra PE teachers by 2008. In 2002-03, only eight trainee PE teachers were recruited to training: in 2005-06, the number rose to 80 on postgraduate courses.

Education Department figures show there are 42 PE students at Strathclyde University, 22 at Edinburgh and 16 at Paisley. Meanwhile, Glasgow Univer-sity is running a two-year course for existing primary teachers to develop PE specialisms.

* Some pupils dislike PE because they do not like returning to class sweaty, Robert Brown, Deputy Education Minister, says in a magazine article this week. He had been speaking to pupils at an Edinburgh school.

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