PE should be given the same status as maths, English, science and Welsh in schools to help tackle obesity in Wales, experts have recommended. This is from the BBC…
A group chaired by Paralympic multi-gold medallist Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson says it would be the first country in the world to take that step.
It would mean more time for sport, but unions worry too many core curriculum subjects could dilute their importance.
The Welsh government said it would consider the recommendation.
Education Minister Leighton Andrews said he wanted to look into how schools can increase levels of physical activity in children and young people.
Although the need for more exercise is clear enough, it isn’t just a simple matter of adding PE as a core subject.
Pupils in Wales already have as core subjects Welsh, English, maths and sciences.
They are the areas the government has decided should have most time and resources allocated to them.
And teaching unions fear the more you add to that core, the less of a priority they each become.
More than one-third are either overweight or obese, costing the Welsh NHS more than £70m a year.
The current core subjects in schools in Wales are English, Welsh (as a first language), mathematics, and science, while physical education is a foundation subject.
Having PE elevated to a core part of the curriculum would mean more time devoted to it, as well as extra resources and more training for teachers.
Schools would also need to give greater priority to provision for PE.
As a result:
• Teachers would be required to be competent to deliver the subject on completion of their initial teacher training.
• Well qualified, specialist teachers would be needed to work with schools to ensure high-quality provision.
• Standards and provision in physical education would be rigorously reviewed in school, both by the educational consortia and by schools inspectorate Estyn.
• Progress would be regularly measured.
The move to give PE more status in schools would be a bold move but an important one, according to the group.
In its report, the group, which also included the chair of Sports Wales Laura McAllister, said: “Given the Welsh government’s commitment to making physical literacy as important a development skill as reading and writing, the group felt that changing the status of physical education is the only credible and secure way of ensuring this.”
But while teaching unions support the idea, they are worried that too many subjects on the core curriculum could dilute their importance.
Dr Philip Dixon, director of ATL Cymru, said it was important to decide on “what small core we want”.
“We certainly want literacy and numeracy in there,” he said.
“We may well want physical education in there too, that’s for the government to decide.
“But the core has to be kept very small or else we’ll see a core which isn’t a core and that’s just ridiculous.”
Would this be a sensible step in tackling rising obesity rates in Wales, or would it just dilute the idea of a core curriculum? How does the situation compare in England and Scotland?