Them and Us??
It is that dreaded time of year for PE specialists in primary schools. It is the time of the ‘Christmas play’ or carol concert, or nativity. The time when we hear the words ‘the hall is unavailable today because………..” You can put your own next sentence in here;
“Year 1 are rehearsing”
“the Christmas tree is being put up”
“the stage is being decorated”
“a pantomime company are in’”
The list goes on!
Don’t get me wrong, it is a fabulous time of the year to be in primary schools, as the excitement level gradually builds from mid-November (for the children at least). It is wonderful to be part of the Christmas jumper days, Christmas lunches and special trips that we often get asked to attend but what is not wonderful is the pressure the teachers are under to get all the additional extras in for the children, like the ones mentioned above. In order for all the fun activities to go on, something has to be missed out of the already over-packed curriculum, and this is where my thoughts really begin.
In the last few weeks I have heard lots of well-founded plea’s from those of us that deliver PE. “We beg you not to take the essential PE time away from your pupils to fit in Christmas activities. PE should, and must, be considered as important as all of the other subjects on the curriculum”. No truer word has been spoken, in my opinion BUT……………….. the responses I have seen vary from the sublime to the ridiculous, it becomes a ‘them & us’ argument. This is not what we need. Responses such as ‘most children would prefer to do music and dance than PE’ or ‘what can we cancel instead’ or ‘leave out the Christmas art and do PE instead’.
All subjects are on the curriculum for a reason – music is important, art is important, PE is important, Maths, Science and English are important as are the numerous other subjects I could list. What I want to know why do schools or individual teachers have to choose which to get rid? Why is the time in school so over-stretched that we all have to argue so strongly about the importance of ‘our’ subject?
I have used Christmas as a time of year to highlight this point but, quite honestly, I feel that this is a year round concern. I spend so much time preaching about the importance of PE for health and well-being, for communication skills, for leadership skills and much more that sometimes I bore myself. I shouldn’t have to fight for the recognition of the importance of my subject on the curriculum, anymore than any other primary school teacher should. There should be time for all of them, there should be resources for all of them and there needs to be finance for all of them.
Since March we have continued to provide PE in our schools, even when they were ‘shut’ (which didn’t happen by the way British media!) PE existed, in some form every day for the children of key workers. The same can be said since we have returned in September, PE has continued to be high on the agenda in most of our schools. They recognise the importance of PE for our young children, even more so at this testing time…
According to an article released on March 4th 2020, Child obesity levels have DOUBLED in a decade. The article in the Daily Mail claims that the 2008 Healthy Weight, Healthy Lives strategy aimed to reduce obesity in children, but that the latest data reveals severely obese children in Year 6 has doubled in that time, & that now one third of children are overweight by the time they finish primary school…
Staying safe in the sun
After a long summer, spent away from work and predominantly with my children it has occurred to me that I need a rest. Not a rest from them (although that would be welcome) but a physical rest. For 8 weeks I have taken part in almost every physical activity I can think of…
Watching the England Lionesses this summer has been a real treat for me. Especially as I have watched all the games with my two young sons and some of their friends. In particular for me, I have loved hearing the girls and boys of our younger generations talking about the players; who their favourite is, who they would like to be like when they grow up, who is the best striker of the ball, who should take the penalties.