'Missed Olympic opportunity' to get children exercising

Children at a school sports day Let us achieve future success now by building in a PE curriculum that is competitive, says Andrew Franklyn-Miller

Childhood obesity remains an issue. One in three 10 and 11-year-olds in England are overweight or obese.

In this week's Scrubbing Up, Dr Andrew Franklyn-Miller says the build-up to the London 2012 Olympics offers the perfect chance to encourage children to be more active - but that it is an opportunity being missed.

If our children are struggling in maths or English, we are aware because of poor performance in tests, and the child gets appropriate help.

But what about physical development, cardiovascular fitness or coordination?

Where are the assessments of "physical literacy" alongside numeracy and literacy?

How do we recognise physical limitations due to shortness of breath or low glucose causing problems, and step in before it becomes too late?

'Let it be competitive'

Society has deemed it acceptable to aspire to participate rather than achieve, to hope that vaguely defined skills might maintain fitness rather than test our children against benchmarks.

Start Quote

We need to make exercise a normal part of day-to-day life, not a weekly obligatory trip to the gym ”

End Quote Dr Andrew Franklyn-Miller

Our national curriculum for PE talks of "aspirations of stringing together movements", floating in a swimming pool and "achievements" of participation and understanding.

I quite understand the reluctance to test further in school and increase the burden on teachers, but we risk neglecting the physical competence of our future generations from a fear of failure, challenge and aspiration we do not see in other aspects of education.

Surely part of the Olympic legacy should be that we give future generations the benefit of experience that our Olympians give in achievement, aspiration and success?

They all compete on a daily basis in training and in competition - even to maintain funding - and ultimately will compete for a medal at London 2012.

London 2012 - Begin your journey here

London view

Where will our next generation be without the competition and physical literacy goals as they develop?

Let us achieve future success now by building in a PE curriculum that embraces push, pull, squat, brace, rotate, accelerate and change of direction.

Let it be competitive and let us test our children against each other and identify those who need support from the network of doctors trained in sport and exercise medicine as an existing Olympic legacy.

Teachers and parents need support with training and a curriculum that builds on the lessons learnt in athlete development, and sport talent identification, not to build potential superstars but to change a lifestyle.

We need to make exercise a normal part of day-to-day life, not a weekly obligatory trip to the gym.

Surely we need to act now to help those millions otherwise destined for obesity?


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  • rate this

    Comment number 113.

    Never overweight, am fit, like walking not games or gym training. Never cared if I was picked last in PE. I knew where to stand to avoid activity. Never passed the fitness test, didn't care.

    Schools can follow businesses that have periods of stretching or Tai Chi to get the kinks out.

  • rate this

    Comment number 112.

    As an august baby who was bullied because of my perceived lack of ability at sport and thus put off it for life, why not further punish the youngest children for being the smallest? As it is summer babies are very unlikely to be professional sports people as the talent spotting system is hung up on the ability demonstrated within a school cohort. These people should read Gadwells book Outlier

  • rate this

    Comment number 111.

    It is a rare article that is so inaccurate and unhelpful that inspires me to write a full response. But this one has!

    If you are interesting in an alternative view, visit TALKING EDUCATION AND SPORT - http://tiny.cc/g4fpu
    ( hope the BBC allows this reference to another site. There's not enough room for a proper reply here!)

  • rate this

    Comment number 110.

    Oh dear ... this sounds like a return to one of the worst aspects of my grammar school education in the 1960s/70s. Even though the school liked to portray its focus on academic education, the overwhelming attitude was that the members of the 1st XV or 1st XI were the school's "stars", while those scoring top marks in public exams, gaining places at Oxbridge, etc. were denigrated as "swots".

  • rate this

    Comment number 109.

    Like many people have had to deal with some disappointment. One of the easiest to cope with was not winning an Olympic Medal.

  • rate this

    Comment number 108.

    PE is all very well but the nub of the issue is kids dont get enough exercise generally. Their parents cart them to school in the car in case something happens to them.When i was at school in the 80`s PE was grim and to be avoided yet few kids were overweight and you wouldnt be seen dead being brought to school.These days i exercise regularly despite PE being rubbish when i was at school.

  • rate this

    Comment number 107.

    I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who got nothing from enforced 'mob rule' PE. I absolutely hated 'games' as we called it at school. I was always the last to be picked for team sports and couldn't run to save my life. Yet I loved to walk and excercised alone at my own pace. 30 years later I still do. Perhaps there could be ways of teaching kids to excercise at their own pace?

  • rate this

    Comment number 106.

    PE in schools without doubt massively impacts whether or not children carry on participating in physical activity once leave. Digressing slightly away from the article above, the major factor that influneces whether or not somebody remains in physical activity is how they feel whilst taking part in such activities whilst at school.

  • rate this

    Comment number 105.

    The problem is that today society sees a person as a machine.

    This machine doesn't exercise enough, this machine bla bla bla

    If you treat people like this they get depressed, and cant be bothered, because a person isn't a machine

    People live in little flats packed into the city, no trees or grass. They get fat and watch TV

    Machines shouldn't have a problem with it. But we aren't machines

  • rate this

    Comment number 104.

    There is a place for both competitive and non-competitive Sport and Physical Education in our schools. Good teachers guide their pupils in the direction they need to go. We were achieving these goals until the coalition government scrapped the School Sport Partnerships. These took 10 years to build and have been replaced with a piecemeal approach to delivery in the year before the Olympics.

  • rate this

    Comment number 103.

    86.eifion "I was never a fat kid"
    It's not a crime, you know, whatever the fat police might now claim. From what I recall of my schooldays kids came in all shapes and sizes, even in the mythical 'golden age' before Xbox, FB etc. The difference was that they weren't scapegoated for the world's every ill and the BMI wasn't being used to label growing kids and create legions of obesity handwringers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 102.

    It's amazing to see the attitude of some people although I am not surprised. Blaming PE teachers for the lack of ability or interest.It is this attitude that is rubbing off on to their kids and stopping them from participating and achieving in PE. Teaching in general has come along way in the last 5-10 years and words like inclusion are now a watch word for OFSTED and Headteachers everywhere.

  • rate this

    Comment number 101.

    93.VirtusSolaNobilitat: Fat people pay taxes too; we all cost the public purse in some way. 2/. A recent study concluded the 'costs of obesity' have been exaggerated through misleading use of statistics. 3/. Fat is a risk factor not a death sentence & thin doesn't = healthy. 4/. Bullying people is not a substitute for sound social policy, and stigma carries its own costs. Google 'moral panic'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 100.

    How interesting that the comment here from a PE teacher typifies the experience of so many from all age groups have of school PE - the best get taught the rest get brushed aside and carry that resentment and dislike of organised sport of any variety in to adulthood and beyond.

    It's simple, sport is a hobby, some like it more don't. But that's a bit too complicated for PE teachers to understand.

  • rate this

    Comment number 99.

    My school was near a premiership training ground and Christine Ohuruogu was in the year below me. Inspiration? It matters not; some kids just dont want to do PE. Some will play football or basketball etc. in breaks/lunch, others wont. And regardless of what you put in PE, there will be some who wont like it/want to do it - accept it.
    Some take up sports/activities in later life or outside school

  • rate this

    Comment number 98.

    Same. one sympathises. Except ours was rugby - the PE teacher wanted to 'make men' out of the boys, so rugby in the winter, no t-shirts or vests under (woefully thin) jerseys, no joggers, just small shorts. Using the smaller lads as practice targets for the actual rugby players. Great times. I'm nearly 30 and i've only recently realised rugby is an alright game!

  • rate this

    Comment number 97.

    No, no and no again. Testing is not the answer. PE or games was always the lesson where you could pretty much relax and have fun, unemcumbered by the stresses of constant testing against your peers, particularly in the GCSE years. You don't need standard (and stressfull) testing to see those children who are maybe not moving as freely, just observant PE teachers who, hopefully, do their jobs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 96.

    Comment 83 - I quite agree GezTT - 'the easiest way to change behaviour is to make something FUN'. Let's try to make PE as ENJOYABLE as possible for ALL (not just those who excel at football, etc). We should be trying to get everyone WANTING to participate in some sort of phyical activity at some level (complusion while they are 'captive' at school will have the opposite effect).

  • rate this

    Comment number 95.

    Many years ago, we used to have PT and competitive sports in schools but then the ranks of the political left took a hand with their misguided artificial philosophy of egalitiarianism and equality. The pursuit of excellence was abandoned in the pursuit of uniformity in which competitive school sports could not play a part. Perhaps now the wheel is turning full circle.

  • rate this

    Comment number 94.

    I was complete rubbish at both art and music and yet I still had to sit through pointless lessons in these subjects - complete with assessments. You didn't hear me whining about how I was picked last for band practice. Nor was I allowed to get out of it just by forging a note from my mum.

    However, nobody died of being tone deaf. So get over yourself, get up off your backside and do some exercise.


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