Shaping up to the physical

24th February 2006 at 00:00
Brian Toner is right to highlight the "decades of neglect of physical education in primary schools" (TESS, February 10).

However, in the present circumstances within the expressive arts, children have an entitlement to one hour of physical education. Schools which have been following the Structure and Balance of the Curriculum guidelines will be able to work incrementally towards two hours. The difficulties arise for those schools who are unable to give children their entitlement.

Local authorities have taken different approaches to this challenge, with Clackmannanshire leading the way and taking an innovative approach to the delivery of two hours.

However, it is not just the "two-hour treadmill" but a commitment to quality physical education that is necessary. The executive physical education review group defined the characteristics of quality PE and these are characteristics which all schools can work towards. The HMIE report, Improving PE in Primary Schools, identified key areas for improvement: programmes; learning and teaching; assessment; monitoring and evaluation; and staff development.

So there is plenty for us to work towards and perhaps, when we have solved the quality aspect, we can then devote our energies to addressing the "two hours" issue.

The Education Minister has made a commitment to children through physical education. The 400 extra teachers he envisages cannot be achieved overnight, but the commitment has been made. One specialist teacher in every cluster is a step in the right direction. Of course, it is not enough - but it is a considerable improvement on the current situation in many authorities.

Brian Toner should work with his specialist teacher: after all, specialist PE teachers are renowned for their creativity and resourcefulness. It comes with the territory, be it the dining hall, the multi-purpose room, or the dedicated gym.

Alongside literacy and numeracy, A Curriculum for Excellence emphasises health and well-being. This provides an opportunity for us to work together for the benefit of children's health and well-being.

We know how children love to move. Let's capitalise on that enthusiasm and make sure we deliver quality PE so that primary children may have the requisite physical skills and the confidence in these skills to enjoy physical activity as a lifelong pursuit.

Chris Wood PE teacher, Albert Place Stirling

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