Schools fail to realise importance of physical education

Primary schools and nurseries are failing to devote enough resources and time to pupils’ physical development, according to the chief inspector of schools.

In his 2004/5 annual report published last week, David Bell said that although the quality of teaching at the foundation stage was “good or better” than the previous year, teaching in four out of five schools was still “heavily directed” towards fostering pupils’ personal, social and emotional development and “least effective” in the area of physical education.

The education charity ContinYou said there was still a fundamental lack of understanding at school level about the contribution physical development made to overall development.

Jancis Walker, head of physical education and out of school hours learning at both ContinYou and the Youth Sport Trust, said that by neglecting physical education schools were putting children’s long term development at risk.

Failure to develop children’s basic motor skills through physical activity could hamper children’s ability to hold a pen and write effectively, she warned.

“Schools still don’t fully understand the impact physical development has on the whole child. It isn’t respected and it is not given the quality it deserves.”

Walker said that, while the Department for Education and Skills had allotted far greater resources for pre-school physical development through initiatives such as the Youth Sport Trust, the message was still not trickling down to headteachers.

“The resources are out there. It is a matter of raising awareness and making schools understand how important physical development is,” she said.

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