Specialist in PE at all Scotland primaries


Every primary school in Scotland is to have a specialist PE teacher to tackle obesity and encourage children to adopt healthier and more active lifestyles, the Scottish Executive said last week. Education minister Peter Peacock also said that he would be looking into how PE could be introduced to pre-school children.

Every primary school in Scotland is to have a specialist PE teacher to tackle obesity and encourage children to adopt healthier and more active lifestyles, the Scottish Executive said last week.

Education minister Peter Peacock also said that he would be looking into how PE could be introduced to pre-school children.

The measures are based on recommendations made in the PE Review Group's report, published last week by the Executive, which said that improvements to PE in schools should be made 'a priority area' as part of the current curriculum review for children from three to 18.

Recommendations included a minimum of two hours of PE a week and a greater choice of activities, such as martial arts, yoga, dance, skateboarding and flag football, to motivate children who do not like traditional sports and games.

The Executive also said it intended to recruit 400 more PE teachers as part of its drive to increase teacher numbers to 53,000 by 2007. It is investing Pounds 24m to develop and expand the Active Schools programme over the three years to 2005-06, including 600 Active School Co-ordinator jobs by 2007, with 270 of these based in primary schools.

The report said, 'The group takes the view that early education in pre-school and primary school should focus on the development and enhancement of skills, as well as an exploration of the connection between physical activity, health and well-being.

'Every primary school in each primary cluster should have adequate access to support from a physical education specialist.'

Mr Peacock said, 'We all know the benefits that flow from a healthy lifestyle, and school has a major part to play in ensuring that every young person is more active. Today I am not just accepting the report's recommendations, I am going further than they suggested.

'The Executive is committed to improving levels of physical activity and helping turn the tide of growing obesity levels. To do this, we need to make it easier and fun for young people to be engaged and more active. The measures I have announced today will do just that.'

He said that increasing the amount of time allocated to PE and training more teachers would ensure pupils had 'high-quality PE from an early age'.

Mr Peacock added, 'I believe it's crucial that young people build activity into their lives from the earliest age and that's why I am also looking at ways to encourage the development of appropriate physical education in the pre-school sector.'

Jonathan Doherty, an early years and primary PE specialist who is head of early childhood education at Leeds Metropolitan University, supported the review's recommendations, but warned of the 'danger of a strict regime'

such as gym or dance for pre-school children. He stressed that it was important that children in nurseries had a mixture of movement, including gross motor skills activities - outdoor play, such as running, skipping, bikes and trikes, rather than 'structured lessons' - linked with developing fine motor skills, such as handwriting and using building bricks.

Mr Doherty added that the message should be about extending current good practice, but with more structure to the activities within that, giving opportunities for daily varied activities, such as movement inside and out, using large apparatus, free and spontaneous play, and swimming.

'PE for children doesn't mean it's an adult model of sport. It should be about the playfulness of the curriculum,' he said.

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