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Well-taught PE lessons should be a necessity – not an option

by | 21st February 2019

A quick question for you: Which subject is consistently underfunded, understaffed and underscheduled – but is the only subject in school that engages a child’s mind and body, promotes their physical and emotional health, as well as improving concentration and developing character?

Of course, the answer is physical education.

While our children are increasingly seen in front of screens and with childhood obesity still such a major challenge, it is imperative that children are taught the importance of physical activity, how to achieve it and, crucially how to maintain it.

Well-taught PE lessons from an early age are absolutely key to helping our youngsters develop life-time habits.

If you look at the activities you are involved with now (or not, as the case may be), they are often a direct result of early childhood experiences.

I am a huge lover of all sports from netball, to cross country running, to swimming to volleyball but I still hate hockey!

The only reason I can pinpoint for this is that I hated my school hockey lessons – cold, wet, rubbish sticks, boring lessons and, unsurprisingly, I have rarely picked up a hockey stick since.

On the other hand, my experience of netball was exceptional. Lessons were fun, challenging, engaging, we had an opportunity to learn to be the coach and the umpire as well as the player. Our teacher was knowledgeable and had high expectations of us, she ensured we learned every lesson. I loved netball then and I have played way into adulthood and then become an umpire to a very high standard.

The key lesson for us here is that physical education must be fun, active, engaging and challenging. It needs to be delivered by people who WANT to show youngsters the joy of physical activity in the best way possible.

It needs to have learning and progress at its heart with varied teaching styles, differentiated activities and challenging outcomes. Anyone delivering PE lessons should have received the training required – like in all other subjects.

And it needs to be well funded, appropriately staffed, regularly scheduled and, very importantly, not removed from the timetable at ‘busy’ times of the year.

Our children need to be active but they need to be activated to a high standard too.

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