Almost two in three adults believe that physical education should be a core subject in the national curriculum.
A poll of 2,071 adults found that 64 per cent thought PE should be equivalent to English, maths and science in the curriculum.
And 46 per cent said that it was wrong to take secondary pupils out of PE classes for extra tuition in existing core subjects.
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The findings follow a recent petition from London community councillor Eartha Pond, which called for PE to become a core subject. This collected more than 15,000 signatures.
The poll was conducted by YouGov, on behalf of children’s charity the Youth Sport Trust.
Ali Oliver, chief executive of the Youth Sport Trust, said that a recent analysis of all subjects taught in UK schools showed that PE has faced bigger cuts than almost any other subject.
“Pupils are being taught fewer hours of physical education than they were a decade ago,” she said.
“The wellbeing of young people is in decline, with too many struggling with issues that a good quality physical education could support them with.
“Provision of opportunities to enjoy sport, play and physical activity should be a core part of every young person’s education. We passionately believe that a transformed physical education should be on a par with maths and English in the curriculum.”
The Youth Sport Trust is holding National School Sport Week, from 24 to 28 June. The charity will provide free resources to schools, as well as offering tips for marking the week.
A Department for Education spokesperson said that PE was a compulsory study across all four key stages of the national curriculum, putting it on a par with English, maths and science.
She added that the government had doubled its PE and Sport Premium funding to £320 million a year.
"PE is an important part of a broad and balanced curriculum," she said. "All maintained schools must teach a full programme of PE, choosing the sports and activities that are most appropriate for their pupils."