Will the drillies take a drubbing?

9th January 2004 at 00:00
Scottish physical education teachers must have been spluttering over their porridge on Tuesday morning. The news that the Executive is to appoint a national network of 600 "active schools" co-ordinators ("fat tsars", inevitably) to develop new ways of getting children to take part in regular physical activity, including sport and walking to school, was hardly a vote of confidence. Further evidence of their apparent marginalisation was the omission of "physical education" from the Executive's press release and its replacement with "physical activity".

Add initiatives such as fitness and healthy eating tsars and the health promoting school and it is clear that the PE lobby, never powerful, has dissolved to the point of extinction. The physical education review group looks as much outwith as inside the school for inspiration.

The paradox is that in recent years PE staff, like all teachers, have never been busier, developing, teaching and assessing various certificated curricular initiatives. But maybe they have taken their eye off the ball in the process and neglected some of the core values traditionally associated with the subject; there is certainly evidence that the "core PE" offered to non-certificate pupils has been both neglected and reduced in frequency.

The limited time offered to pupils for physical education and activity and sport makes it all the more vital that the time is well spent, and that the teaching is of the best quality. PE specialists may feel they are best equipped to do this but they will have to fight their corner, in primary as well as secondary. The PE review group may propose but it is the curriculum review group that will dispose.

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