'Not enough strenuous activity' in school PE


How fee paying independent schools compare with state schools

Related Stories

There is not enough strenuous, physical activity in many of England's school PE lessons, education inspectors say.

Teachers tend to talk too much in sessions and often lack specialist training, the Ofsted report on primary and secondary PE adds.

It also highlights the fact that only a minority of schools play competitive sport at high level.

The government says its draft PE curriculum will put competitive sport back at the heart of school life.

Ofsted inspectors visited 120 primaries and 110 secondaries over a four-year period.

Olympic legacy

Overall the report said PE teaching was good or outstanding in two-thirds of the primary schools it visited, and three-quarters of the secondary schools it saw. This was an improvement on the results of its last survey in 2008, it said.

And it put much of this down to the School Sports Partnership programme, saying its impact in "maximising participation and increasing competition was clearly evident in the vast majority of schools visited".

The programme was scrapped by Education Secretary Michael Gove but partially reinstated on a dramatically reduced budget following an outcry from heads, schools and politicians.

Start Quote

We found there often wasn't enough physical, strenuous activity in PE lessons”

End Quote Sir Michael Wilshaw Ofsted chief inspector

But Ofsted warned that sustaining this level of improvement would be challenging against the "backdrop of greater expectations following last summer's London Games".

And called for a new national strategy building on the success of the School Sports Partnership Programme.

Stamina and strength

However the report found some important positive point, with most schools providing at least two hours of PE a week for pupils aged five to 14.

And only a fifth of primary schools did not ensure that all pupils could swim before they left.

However, it was concerns about the content and nature of some PE lessons than in some weaker lessons that chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw highlighted.

He said: "Generally, PE in our schools is in good health, but there are some issues the report highlights as areas for improvement. In particular, we found there often wasn't enough physical, strenuous activity in PE lessons.

"Some teachers talked for too long and pupils were not provided with enough activity to enable them to learn or practise their skills.

"In many of the schools visited, the more able pupils were not challenged sufficiently because teachers' expectations of them were too low.

"Schools with the best PE provision enabled pupils to achieve well by providing an ever increasing range of extra-curricular and traditional activities."

Expert analysis: The BBC's Dan Roan explains why cutting a key partnership with secondary school PE teachers has left primary school sport lagging behind

The report added: "In weaker lessons, pupils were not challenged to warm up vigorously or build stamina and strength by participating in sustained periods of physical activity.

"They were often prevented from exercising for extended periods because teachers interrupted their learning or took too long to introduce new tasks."

The report also found very few schools had adapted PE programmes to deal with the needs of overweight and obese pupils.

A Department for Education spokesman said: "We want all children to be given the opportunities they need to be fit and healthy. The draft PE curriculum published last week is designed to put competitive sport back at the heart of school life and end the damaging 'prizes for all' culture.

'Teacher training'

"We are also extending the School Games and spending £1bn on youth sport over the next five years.

"In addition we are working across government on a range of measures to improve PE and school sport as part of the Olympic and Paralympic legacy and will make an announcement in due course."

Shadow schools minister Kevin Brennan said: "As leading sports personalities have warned, under this government the Olympic legacy is at risk.

"Ministers must restore the requirement that pupils do a minimum of two hours of PE a week - the numbers of pupils doing two hours of sport has collapsed from 90% under Labour to 50% now."

But the DfE said: "The two-hour target was never a rule - it was an unenforceable aspiration that schools were free to ignore. We are freeing teachers from such unnecessary targets and paperwork which take up too much time better used in the classroom or at the running track."

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "Sport in schools is fit and healthy and beating its own records. Delivering two hours of PE a week in today's packed curriculum is a fantastic achievement."


Baroness Sue Campbell, chairman of the Youth Sports' Trust, said it was worrying that fewer primary schools are achieving outstanding PE than their secondary counterparts.

"From our own research we know that primary school teachers are not receiving adequate training in how to deliver an effective PE experience and this can leave teachers lacking the confidence and competence to deliver the subject effectively."

National Union of Teachers' general secretary Christine Blower said: "All the criticisms that Ofsted had of schools sports were being addressed by the Schools Sports Partnership.

"This was specialist PE teachers working across primary schools to add capacity and bring high quality, specialist, exciting teaching to children. It has been all but shut down by the coalition government."


More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 590.

    I'm a pe teacher. PE should help children to lead a healthy lifestyle through educating about activities that keep you fit and which foods are best for you etc. The strenuous physicality should come from home. Fat children are not the fault of 2 hours a week PE, rather the other 166 hours of inactivity.

  • rate this

    Comment number 589.

    576. Whitefall

    So to be clear, I'm a socialist if I don't agree with Gove/Wilshaw and we're in a mess because we took notice of the evidence. I hope that next time you go to the doctor he treats you according to well-researched treatments, rather than something that feels right or has appeared in a newspaper that a politician has briefed.

    God help us all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 588.

    I feel that there is a lack of variety in schools, I loved football in school and playing in the first team, but I would have liked to have given something like wrestling a try or more olympic style sports

  • rate this

    Comment number 587.

    Teaching used to be a profession but unions and politicians have turned it into a blue-collar job.My old PE teachers spent hours of their own time each week organising inter and intra-school sport competitions. These days competitive sport is largely left to volunteers and parents to organise and pay for at local sports clubs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 586.

    "parents already have every right to educate their children at home if they so wish!"
    But you're still taxed to pay for the failed state school down the road that you've rightly chosen to escape right?

    How's that fair when you're coerced into giving up your wages to pay for a service you abhor and reject?

  • rate this

    Comment number 585.

    @560 Iain Ah, the old "Those who can..." cliche and derivatives thereof. Of course a wise person would have read my posts before suggesting I'd left because I cannot teach...

    Still involved just not in schools, hence my interest.

    It would be most unfair of me and lower my contribution to the thread to the gutter level of others to suggest...

    Those who can't do anything else, teach.

  • rate this

    Comment number 584.

    #555 Whitefall - if you dislike the way our country is run so much, why not go somewhere more to your liking.
    Out of interest, where WOULD you go to?

  • rate this

    Comment number 583.

    @573 Bastat

    Thats fine and a sound idea, i dont disagree with you but the introduction of the voucher system on a countrywide basis would create chaos. I have a friend who was a teacher at a top school in Sweden, her and many of her colleagues ended up resigning as the stress and paperwork involved were unbelieveable.

  • rate this

    Comment number 582.

    @bastiat and Whitefall

    I see bastiat has a friend now to share in his delusions ;-)

    To both of you, how are the less well off supposed to choose the best education in your free market utopia ?

    As I see it only the well off could afford the best education - that seems to me as though children are being punished for their parents affluence.

  • rate this

    Comment number 581.

    Incitatus-I was a PE teacher and left for many reasons but partly because I didn't think I was very good.I have since worked very closely with PE teachers and realise that actually I wasn't that bad.I would like to think that the majority of kids came out of my lessons feeling like they'd achieved something even if they still didn't feel like they were great.surely that's what we should be aiming

  • rate this

    Comment number 580.

    Why is it ok for a child to be singled out who is weak at reading by been made to read in front of the class in an English class, but whenever another child is shown to be weak in PE it is classed as bullying?

  • rate this

    Comment number 579.


    52 decimal is 110100 binary you total idiot. 104 binary is 1101000.

    110100 is 4+16+32 = 52
    1101000 is 8+32+64 = 104

    Too much PE for you, I think.

  • rate this

    Comment number 578.

    571 dobigr

    'From what I understand nothing has changed over 40 years'

    You misunderstand then.

    Note ... Head of Ofsted .... 'Generally PE in our schools is in good health.'

  • rate this

    Comment number 577.

    The school, university, college year is very similar to the Parliamentary year. Was that not historically based around times of planting and harvesting by the population?

    Does that need to be reviewed now in the UK 21st Century as so many people are not in those occupations, yet expected to adhere to those 'time tables' with children or not? I'm not criticising a particular group, just asking.

  • rate this

    Comment number 576.

    @563 DW

    Compared to the relative "golden age" that it could be in a truly free market in education? - Yes we do have a nightmarishly-mediocre socialist education system.

    The problem is that you and others like you don't know any better. You think this socialist garbage is the best you're ever going to get.

    We should be in the golden age of mankind right now, but we're not, because of statists.

  • rate this

    Comment number 575.

    Fine for those who are good at sport; for me school sport meant misery and a life-long hatred of sport- especially soccer! I enjoyed cross-country running as long as it was not competitive - I'm just not a competitive person and I am sure I am not alone.

  • rate this

    Comment number 574.

    My wife is a primary teacher and I despair of her school sports days, which involve so called "potted sports" designed to encourage sharing and where nobody has to lose. Pathetic. If we want sporting success for future generations, we have to be teaching compititve sports.

    I suppose it comes down to what we want out of PE lessons though.

  • rate this

    Comment number 573.

    How about, the state treats the children, parents, teachers, everyone equally = You're free to choose how your child is educated, where, what they study and how much you're willing to pay or provide that service for?

    Even compromise solutions of state funded education vouchers encouraging free choice work compared to our 1 size fits all approach.

  • rate this

    Comment number 572.

    ref 561 ...but then the politbureau wouldn't want to risk their existing system to be shown up by what would effectively be a state-sponsored public school system of competition and ambition, that successful alternative...

    Honesty, that's all this debate needs, then progress can be made. If the education of our children can be wrenched away from the social engineers, matters will improve.

  • rate this

    Comment number 571.

    Psychotic gym teachers in secondary school, who’s standard approach to offering ‘encouragement’ was simply to shout even louder did more to put me off sport of any sort for life.

    Wet muddy fields arctic wind and lashing rain didn't help, we had to wear shorts and a t-shirt when the teacher could wear trackie bottoms and waterproofs

    From what I understand nothing has changed over 40 years.


Page 11 of 40


More Education & Family stories



Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.