Plea to keep PE off the sidelines

15th May 2009 at 01:00
Primary pupils will become obese unless more time is given to sport, says subject association

The association for Physical Education (afPE) has warned that the planned shake-up of the primary school curriculum could result in a worsening obesity problem among pupils in England.

The organisation has claimed that recommendations made by Sir Jim Rose to the Government last week in his report would "bury" physical education in primary schools, causing it to fall off the teaching agenda. Professor Margaret Talbot, the afPE's chief executive, said that where PE had been sidelined in schools in other countries, it had "disappeared entirely" from the curriculum.

"In Australia they took it off the agenda and now they have the second highest obesity rate in the world behind the US," Professor Talbot said. "We're going the same way."

The association also fired a shot at the Training and Development Agency for Schools for failing to make PE a priority when training primary school teachers. According to Professor Talbot, many receive a maximum of six hours' training.

"It is an outrageously small amount of training," she said. "It is placing children in unsafe circumstances and means schools are afraid to teach PE for fear of legal action."

The attack came after the Government revealed that more than Pounds 1 billion has been spent on PE in schools in the past five years, and a further Pounds 680 million has been granted through lottery funding.

The figures were released through a parliamentary question last week, and although the association welcomed more cash, it said it was merely money spent to repair a failing system.

Professor Talbot added: "Any budget of this scale should be spent on developing the system, making the subject more ethnically diverse and making this country a world leader, but instead it was spent on trying to repair it."

Responding to the criticisms of the Rose Review, the Department for Children, Schools and Families said the recommendations will see schools build on the basic requirement of two hours of participation in PE a week.

A department spokesperson said: "These proposals were developed with the leading PE and sport organisations in schools - including the Association for Physical Education and Youth Sports Trust. Schools will find it easier to teach activities that cater to every child, not just sporty types."

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