A poll conducted by the Youth Sport Trust has found alarming statistics underpinning the need to assess and evaluate current PE provision in schools.
Results from the secondary school survey suggest that 21% of pupils experience a decrease in the amount of time set aside for PE in school. 38% of teachers stated that PE provision has dropped in the last five years for 14-16 year olds, whilst 16-18 year olds average just 34 minutes of physical activity per week in school.
The Telegraph reported, “increased pressure to produce exam results was leading to children being pulled out of PE lessons for tutoring.” This is despite the United Kingdom currently trapped in the midst of a health crisis.
33% of teachers stated that exam pressures were behind the decline and such a figure could rise if suggestions to increase the amount of exams in school to ‘support mental health’ are accepted and implemented.
Cal Strode, spokesman for the Mental Health Foundation, explained: “It is concerning to hear that PE is being cut at a time when students are facing issues with self-esteem, stress and anxiety in increasing numbers. There’s a close relationship between our mental and physical health, ensuring that children have access to regular physical education delivers an all round benefit.”
Tom Madders, director of campaigns at charity YoungMinds, added: “Schools that prioritise wellbeing also tend to do better academically, so it makes sense to focus on promoting good mental health, rather than putting children under yet more pressure.”
These startling statistics are likely to raise concerns for primary school teachers. Following the introduction of sports premium funding, primary staff are liable to ensure their children are receiving adequate provision to improve their physical literacy and wellbeing. Yet this data suggests that their work could be unravelling when pupils make their way through the next steps of the education system.
A response from the government will be interesting in the wake of this current physical activity predicament in secondary school settings.