Slur on PE teachers has no bearing on reality

28th September 2001 at 01:00
As a PE teacher I find Geoff Brookes's remarks (Friday, Talkback, September 21) an insult to myself and the many colleagues I have worked with over the past 10 years.

The demands on PE teachers have grown rapidly, especially over the past decade.

The idea that we have "little marking" is laughable, as I sit here, Friday night, with a huge pile of A-level PE essays. Apart from A-level, I have two GCSE groups and a GNVQ class - oh, and don't forget that second subject. Then there are three fixtures a week and three lunch-time practices. No pressure?

My school has streamed the PE classes. The more able pupils are put together to learn advanced techniques and tactics, and the less able students are given opportunities to develop in smaller groups. Yes we do have a laugh with the first XI and second XI, as lessons are meant to be fun.

Streaming has increased the development of all pupils but, more importantly, given confidence to less able pupils. No pupils are left "shivering on the side" as they want to be involved with pupils of a similar ability.

Mr Brookes says PE teachers should "try their hardest with those who can't do the subject very well". No, I will not! I will do my best for all my pupils - remember equal opportunities? We teach pupils with special needs, which includes pupils without full limbs. These pupils are integrated and participate in PE with differentiated work.

If Mr Brookes is talking about being "professional" maybe he, as deputy head, should act if the practices he describes go on in his school.

I will gladly swap a week's work with Mr Brookes but, remember, he must include a warm-up, techniques, simulated practices, conditioned gameskill, small-sided gamesequence and cool-down in all practical lessons.

It will probably rain and be cold, but he will have to wear shorts to set an example. Then he'll have to drive 20 miles with a bus full of Year 7s one night, referee a match the next and take a Year 10 team the day after that. The marking must also be done.

Lunch will usually be a sandwich, eaten as he trains the teams during the week. Oh, did I forget the Monday staff meeting?

Meanwhile I can sit in his warm office, shuffling pieces of paper and finding the time to write articles for The TES, in which I could generalise about subjects I know nothing about.

Then I'll go home at 4pm, watch the TV because I have little marking because of a reduced teaching load.

Mr Brookes should go to a good PE department to see how it is done properly, and maybe provide Inset if it is a problem in his school.

To all those who understand and give up their free time to enhance students' whole education for no financial reward - keep up the good work.

I Moxham, PE teacher, Hertfordshire

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