Headlines: April 1st, 2009

Schools’ imaginative approach to physical education teaching is helping to reduce pupils’ disaffection, according to a report from Ofsted today. It says activities such as mountain biking, dance, martial arts, and yoga mean many pupils’ experience of the subject bears no relation to the stereotype of suffering sport in the rain.

The report, ‘Physical Education in Schools 2005/8: working towards 2012 and beyond’, paints a positive picture of PE and school sport, with schools offering a wider range of activities and it says creative approaches to PE not only encouraged pupils not keen on traditional team activities, but also reduced disaffection and improved engagement. Students’ achievements were good or outstanding in two thirds of primary schools and in more than three quarters of secondary schools visited by inspectors. They found most young people were engaged in lessons and there was a high rate of participation in extra-curricular activities.

Today’s report says Government funding from 2003 has allowed a more sustained focus on PE and that teachers, particularly at primary level, have benefited from more opportunities for professional development. Primary and secondary school children were being encouraged to take responsibility and leadership roles, contributing not only to the school and local community but also their personal development.

Christine Gilbert, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, said: “PE has a considerable impact on students’ personal development. Ofsted’s inspectors found participation, behaviour and relationships between staff and students were often outstanding.”

The weakest aspect of PE was assessment, although even this was better than in most other subjects, and more robust procedures were needed to monitor and analyse the achievements of all pupils.