Talented youngsters who could be British stars of the 2012 London Olympics are not being pushed to fulfil their potential by schools, inspectors have found.
Too many PE lessons fail to challenge gifted pupils despite being satisfactory in most other respects, an Ofsted report said. Teaching of talented pupils was no better than satisfactory in almost a third of lessons observed.
Ofsted said sports partnerships between groups of schools have helped improve PE and increased time given to it, particularly in primaries. But the programme was unsatisfactory in one in seven primaries and many pupils in the 13,600 schools in the programme still do not do the target two hours of physical activity each week.
Two-thirds of lessons were good or better, but one in 10 was unsatisfactory.
The Government has promised that by 2006, 75 per cent of pupils will spend at least two hours a week on high-quality PE and sport in and outside the curriculum. The target for 2008 is 85 per cent.
The report, based on inspectors' visits to more than 60 schools, said: "The great majority of the schools visited were committed to providing two hours of PE and sport each week. However, there were considerable variations.
"In most of the primary schools, key stage 1 pupils usually had less PE than at KS2. More time was allocated to PE in secondary schools. In primary and secondary schools, school events, national testing and exams occasionally reduced considerably time for PE."
Lord Adonis, schools minister, said: "Many of our 2012 Olympic medal-winners are at school today. I am determined to make the pathway from playground to podium a reality for these young people."
School sports partnerships are made up of a specialist sports college, eight secondary schools and 45 primary or special schools. Each partnership receives a grant of up to pound;270,000 each year.
FE Focus 3 The physical education, school sport and club links strategy is available at www.ofsted.gov.uk