School PE Lessons Are Failing, Finds Ofsted

Children are not playing competitive sport to a high level and physical education lessons in school are failing to improve fitness, a new report has claimed.

Inspectors for Ofsted raised concerns that many schools are failing to push their sportiest pupils or help those that are overweight.

The watchdog warned that some PE lessons are not strenuous enough because children spend too much time listening to teachers.

It concluded that PE lessons in around a third of primary schools and a quarter of secondaries are not up to scratch.

The report is based on inspections done in the last four years, and notes that the subject is generally "in good health" after significant investment in the past decade.

But Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw said: "In many of the schools visited, the more able pupils were not challenged sufficiently because teachers' expectations of them were too low."

The report said warm-ups in primary schools were often too short and too easy and then followed by "long periods of inactivity" as new tasks were introduced.

And it warned that a fifth of primary schools were not making sure pupils could swim at least 25 metres by the time they left.

At secondary school level, only a minority of schools were found to play competitive sport to very high levels and the strongest children were not given enough time to achieve their best.

The report added that very few schools had set up programmes to meet the needs of youngsters who were overweight or obese.

School sport has become a political hot potato since the Olympics and Paralympics last summer, with calls to ensure that the Games' intended legacy to "inspire a generation", is fulfilled.

A new PE curriculum published last week requires children between five and seven to be taught basic running, jumping, throwing and catching as well as team games and simple dances.

Pupils between seven and 11 should play competitive games like football, netball, rounders, cricket and hockey, as well as learn to swim at least 25 metres.

Once in secondary school. they should take part in team and individual competitive sports, do outdoor and adventurous activities and work to improve their performance.

Labour called for the requirement that pupils do a minimum of two hours of PE a week to be restored, warning that "under this Government, the Olympic legacy is at risk".

A Government spokesman said the new draft PE curriculum "is designed to put competitive sport back at the heart of school life and end the damaging 'prizes for all' culture".

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