An unacceptable cop-out

2nd May 2008 at 01:00
John Beattie is too polite when commenting on the decision of local authorities to scrap the weekly minimum allocation of two hours of quality physical education (The TESS, April 18)
John Beattie is too polite when commenting on the decision of local authorities to scrap the weekly minimum allocation of two hours of quality physical education (The TESS, April 18). "Totally pathetic" is an understatement.

This decision, if ratified by the Scottish Government, is a national disgrace and confirms that there is absolutely no commitment by local authorities to invest in the health and well-being of young people.

As a teacher and former member of the PE review group, I considered two hours a week of quality physical education a necessity if Scotland was to make any progress towards a healthier nation with a positive attitude to exercise and health. Many, many others agree with me.

The review group knew that achieving two hours of quality PE would not be easy. Staffing and ensuring adequate facilities were identified as issues which would need attention. But to scrap the recommendation completely and leave the allocation of PE time to the whim of the local authority or headteacher is a total cop-out.

If something is valued and important, it is worth the extra effort to make it work. For local authorities to hide behind the pretext that two hours of quality PE is a "narrow target" is, I repeat, a total cop-out.

I was, however, encouraged to read Fiona Hyslop's comment that the Government expects schools "to continue to work towards the provision of at least two hours of good quality PE for each child every week". I sincerely hope the Government is proactive and instructs local authorities to make the proposal work. Failure to do so will be an opportunity lost for years to come.

Philip Cairney, principal teacher of physical education, St Paul's High, Glasgow.

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