Running out of steam in secondaries;Sports extra
The boom in primary schools cross-country and road race events continues, as anyone who attended the cross-country championships last month at Kirkcaldy can testify. "The numbers keep going up and up," says Linda Trotter, Scottish Schools' Athletics Association assistant secretary.
But this trend does not continue in secondaries. "There's been a drop in the numbers of cross-country teams, although not in the numbers of schools. It seems that schools don't have the time or the staff to build teams round their outstanding individuals but are quite happy to keep entering the individuals."
Last year's first boys and girls joint track and field championships enjoyed a lot of interest and will be repeated at Grangemouth on June 20. "It was good for the athletes to be going as one school. They supported each other and those coming from a distance were able to make a weekend of it," explained Ms Trotter, who expects entries from far-flung parts this year, including Shetland and possibly Barra, Benbecula and Stornoway.
Ms Trotter praises the support from association officials, many of whom are not in schools: "We have some wonderful officials and teachers are still getting involved - it goes in waves."
There is still a drop-off in entries in the oldest girls' group, over-17, but unlike the senior district championships there are no events which do not take place and a girls' pole vault will be introduced this year in addition to the hammer which has already proved popular.
While many sports bemoan the effect of curriculum PE on extra-curricular activity, schools' basketball has identified a positive effect. Basketball and badminton are proving to be the most popular subjects in Higher PE.
Ian McDonald, St Columba's High, Dunfermline, and competitions secretary of the Scottish Schools Basketball Association, says: "Pupils have studied themselves on video and have adopted a much more positive input.
"We also introduced a competition solely for Higher PE pupils and this proved popular, although we'll have to tighten the rules next year."
Although the total number of schools affiliated to the SSBA was down last year, the number of teams and participants rose due to the introduction of consolation or B cups in various age groups.
"We had entries from a number of schools who in the past wouldn't have bothered entering because they felt they could not achieve the standard of the top teams," Mr McDonald explained.
The experiment of having the Scottish Schools cup finals midweek will be continued next year despite opposition from some parents and others who could not attend. Mr McDonald identifies the lack of volunteers for schools committees as the biggest problem.
"Unlike athletics, we don't yet have a resource of retired people we can call on."