Training places slimmed down as PE time increases

8th February 2008 at 00:00

Training places for new PE teachers are to be cut by a third over the next three years, despite government plans to more than double the sport being played by pupils.

Initial teacher training places for secondary PE teachers will fall from 1,570 during 200809 to an estimated 1,180 in 201011. The cutbacks come as Gordon Brown told a specialist sports colleges conference that he wants all pupils to do five hours' sport a week. Currently, the minimum is two hours.

Professor Margaret Talbot, chief executive of the Association for Physical Education, said: "We keep asking, `how can more emphasis be put on sport when the number of training positions is being cut?'

"The number of pupils taking GCSE and A-level PE is increasing. That means teachers are stretched.

"A lot of PE teachers are also leaving to take up roles in sports development. It's great that they can progress, but not if it leaves pupils being taught by overworked, inexperienced staff."

Initial teacher training places are due to be cut in all subjects in response to falling secondary rolls. The drop in PE will be the largest.

A spokeswoman at the Department for Children, Schools and Families said that increased demand for PE staff working in wider roles, such as sports development managers, had been taken into account. PE is not a shortage subject like maths or science and is therefore more vulnerable to cutbacks.

Loughborough University, one of the country's leading universities for sport, has already had its PE teacher training places cut from 80 to 59 during the past three years. Lorraine Cale, director of Loughborough's PE PGCE, said: "When I heard about the five-hour target, I thought it was fantastic. But who is going to deliver it? I'm not sure the Government has thought through all the implications.

"It worries me that schools are employing outside coaches. Many are not qualified teachers and do not understand the curriculum."

There are no national figures for the number of outside coaches being employed by schools.

It is intended that the five-hour target will be met both in and outside the curriculum, with clubs and extended schools playing a role.

Professor Talbot also raised concerns about the lack of time dedicated to PE in primary teacher training, which can be as little as six hours in a one-year course.

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