Physical education - HMIE to be more 'transparent'

20th March 2009 at 00:00
MSPs demand more detail on PE in school reports

Inspectors have been instructed by the Scottish Government to include PE in their reports on schools, politicians have been told.

However, the extent to which inspections would focus on PE remains unclear, pending talks between HMIE and government.

The move comes after MSPs, sitting on the Parliament's health and sport committee, criticised inspectors for ignoring the subject in their reports. They also claimed inspectors had failed to mention PE in reports on a number of schools where there were concerns about provision.

Donald McLeod, on behalf of the inspectorate, told the committee that if no mention of PE was made, inspectors were satisfied. West of Scotland Liberal Democrat Ross Finnie, however, argued it was "disingenuous" to suggest silence meant satisfaction, given that that was not how inspectors approached other targets.

Education Secretary Fiona Hyslop had asked HMIE to be "more transparent" in the way it reported on the subject, said Keith Brown, the new Minister for Schools and Skills in his first committee appearance last week since taking over from Maureen Watt in February.

Committee convener and SNP MSP Christine Grahame wanted to know what "transparent" meant - the committee needed it "nailed", she told Mr Brown.

The Minister offered to "get back" to the committee, admitting he did not know.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "The Cabinet Secretary has asked HMIE to consider how inspection reports can be made more transparent to schools, parents and others and she has asked HMIE to inform the committee of how they intend to do this."

The committee also heard that only six local authorities had included the two-hours-a-week PE target in their single outcome agreements with the Government. All agreements were expected to be concluded over the "next couple of months" but none had been signed off.

However, Mr Brown argued it was not necessary for authorities to specifically mention the target, as they were already committed to meeting it by signing up to A Curriculum for Excellence.

Conservative MSP Mary Scanlon was not convinced. "It is the single outcome agreements that have been there for the past two years that drive priorities and resource allocation," she said.

"Fewer than 20 per cent of authorities have signed up to the target - six out of 32 - and that's at the heart of this matter and that's why children are not being offered the excellent PE they should be getting."

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