PE is not just a game.

‘Not enough strenuous activity, in PE lessons.

I’m positive i was not alone in being both disgusted and alarmed by headlines in the news this week. With it being so soon after London 2012 it is vital that PE and Sport is on the tip of the tongue, however this is just as what we expected and not as we had hoped. It has been clear for me, in the few years i have been involved in sport, that young people aren’t ‘playing’ or exercising as much as we used to. I can remember lacing up my boots at 8am to head over to the park with my brother for a kick about and returning covered in mud, after being in goal, hours later. So why the change? a debate for another day.

After reading the headline i went into school armed with opinion and ideas to change this perception, but i am only one of thousands. I can still make a difference however and conveniently i had an S1 fitness class period 1. For this lesson i gave an injured pupil a stopwatch and the brief to time me everytime i spoke. I spoke for 5 minutes and 23 seconds in a 55 minute period. The pupils worked at stations mixing between cardio and strength machines (focus of lesson was on reps, sets and importance of rest) and i reckon they worked for approx 30 minutes of that lesson, albeit some work harder than others. Surely the pupils benefitted from this? Surely the activity was strenuos enough? surely immediately after reading the headlines i disproved them? maybe i did, maybe i didn’t but it is at the forefront of my mind.

I understand where this headline comes from however, and i feel that perhaps they are justified.I have observed many teachers in the past 2 years and i must admit there are some that are perhaps lazy in their approach and rely on ancient practises and ‘years of experience’ which often results in not challenging pupils and maybe, dare i say it’ not understanding the modern day young person. Im not saying that the headlines are entirely the fault of ageing teachers, lazy teachers encompass a full range of age and stage of career and im sure that all of us have come across them.

This brings me to my next point.

The challenge of providing good PE lessons.

This is not only a challenge for us trained as physical educators. I am constantly planning and re-planning lessons in my head to ensure they best meed the needs of the learners and are challenging both mentally and physically. This is a challenge even given that i have spent my life in and around sport. So one can only imagine how difficult this can be for a teacher trained in primary education, with no experience of sport, expected to teach a number of subjects and with only hours of training in physical education. Even with the vast array of resources on the world wide web nothing can beat the experience on one trained in Physical Education practises. My point is this….. why oh why do we not have full time PE teachers in every primary school? Isnt this of vital importance? the argument is clearly in its favour. We need to compete on a national scale, olympic athletes come from backgrounds where sport and PE was provided throughout life, children are no longer ‘fit’, young people are rarely seen ‘playing’ and computers and gaming is the order of the day. Which leaves school and the playground as the only opportunity young people get to experience sport, playing and winning and losing. Massively important aspects of life and leading a healthy lifestyle.

I understand fully the implications of budget and how it is impacting on education. I am a probation teacher and will struggle to find a full time permanent opportunity in Scotland this year (maybe even England) in both primary or secondary. There are some part time opportunities but how can this be beneficial to any young person? I have been doing work in the local primary school to gain experience of this sector and it has been invaluable to my progress through my NQT year and a valuable CPD opportunity. The primary school have 2 part time teachers who see the same pupils and i dont see the benefit in this and after discussions it is clear that the school does want a full time monday to friday PE specialist. Im sure all primaries would want this to reach the 2 hours of quality PE target and i hope that these headlines actually shake a few trees (and not just branches) and free up some money as every young person NEEDs this i truly believe.

Time will tell what will happen in the future but i hope that every young person receives the opportunity to become physically educated like i have been and the right people make the right decisions. I know that now and throughout my career i will ensure that my lessons are ‘strenuous’, challenging, engaging and improve the skills and health and fitness of the young people in my charge.


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