Lord Coe has plunged into a sexism row after saying that most women teachers lack the confidence to take PE lessons in primary schools. This is from the Daily Mail…
The former London 2012 chairman blamed their failings on training colleges that offer only six to ten hours of sports tuition over two years.
Although he was simply highlighting research carried out by a sports charity, his comments drew an angry backlash.
‘It is entirely unacceptable to be peddling such sexist nonsense,’ said Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers.
‘I’m sure Jessica Ennis and all those other female Olympians would be outraged by such views. To imply that female primary school teachers don’t have as much ability as men to teach sport isn’t right.’
But Lord Coe, the Government’s Olympic legacy ambassador, insisted it was not a question of ability, but one of training.
‘I was shocked by how little they get,’ he said.
‘Eight out of ten teachers in primary schools are women. And this is not remotely pejorative but I think that something like 80 per cent of them said they just did not feel confident taking physical education.
‘I am guessing that there will be a lot of men who will feel the same way.’
Lord Coe has long emphasised the ‘crucial’ need to provide better PE teaching in primary schools.
He raised the issue during a talk he gave in Tilford, Surrey, where he lives.
Andrew Carter, head teacher of a nearby primary school who was among the audience, said: ‘Lord Coe said 80 per cent of primary school teachers are women who have had no formal training in PE at all. His implication was that women are less sporty than men, but that’s ridiculous.‘
‘It was basically the old-fashioned view that women teachers are a bit fluffy and not keen on sport and, if it came to football, would not know the rules. Lord Coe was not trying to be clever but just trying to make a point that was not really valid.
‘He needs to look at the dance and aerobics activities going on and similar sports activities and not just traditional sports such as football and running.
‘Lord Coe is a highly successful athlete in his own right and the trouble is people who don’t know better believe him and they go away saying, “No one runs sports in primary schools.”
‘So if parents are going to help out with school sports activities, they may wonder what the point is after hearing him express that view.
‘Lord Coe seems to think that we should turn out Olympians and athletes, but our job is to make children fit and understand their bodies. That way we can lengthen their lives.’
Earlier this year, Baroness Campbell, the head of the Youth Sport Trust which carried out the research, claimed that many children starting secondary school were unable to throw a ball, catch, jump or run.
She said that even pupils inspired to take up a sport after watching the Olympics missed out because teachers were not well trained enough to help them.
Shadow Sports Minister Clive Efford said: ‘We do need to improve the quality of teaching sport in primary schools but if Lord Coe is implying that female teachers can’t teach sport because they’re women, then he’s wrong.
‘If he’s saying teaching sport is poor because it’s predominately taught by women in primary schools then he is taking us backwards, rather than moving forwards.’
Earlier this month Lord Coe helped launch a new £150 million grant for school sports facilities. The investment comes as the Government unveils plans to train teachers to specialise in PE at primary school.
Lord Coe said: ‘The problem in primary schools is that PE has become too much of a lottery. If you have a head teacher – male or female – who understands sport then probably you’ll have a better chance of getting good provision.
‘But if their experience of sport was not good then that tends to filter through the school. It occurred to me that the big gap in provision was in primary schools.
‘I saw this as not just a money issue – it was also about changing attitudes, particularly in teacher training. The amount of teacher training that was carried out shocked me.
Are the critics right to have a go at @sebcoe or was he actually making a valid point in that most primary school teachers feel that are not sufficiently trained in how to provide good PE – isn’t that where the focus should be? Please share your thoughts in the comments or on twitter…