England

Cheerleading and yoga on the rise in school PE lessons

1980s school children playing netball
Image caption Modern PE lessons are evolving away from traditional outdoor competitive sports

More schools are offering pupils sports such as cheerleading, yoga and boxing in PE lessons, while traditional team games decline, government figures show.

Martial arts and mountaineering are also on the up, while the number of schools where hockey, netball and rugby union are played is dropping.

The yearly figures also showed more pupils doing two hours of PE each week.

But Children's Minister Tim Loughton said participation in competitive sport was "disappointingly low".

The study, published by the Department for Education, showed that nearly two in five schools (37%) now offered cheerleading, up from 32% last year.

The proportion teaching yoga has risen from 21% to 22%, the same as for trampolining.

Other sports that are growing in popularity are boxing, now in 10% of schools compared with 1% six years ago, judo - 13% up from 8% - and mountaineering in 14% of schools, up from 7% in the same period.

Traditional team games are still more widely offered, but several are declining, including hockey (down from 78% to 73% in the past three years), rugby union (down from 74% to 66% in the past four years) and netball (down from 84% to 79% of schools in the past six years).

Football still tops the table, offered in 98% of schools.

Other sports that have seen strong growth in schools are golf, cycling, badminton, table tennis, canoeing and archery.

Girls were more likely to be offered dance, gymnastics, netball and hockey lessons, while boys were more likely to be offered cricket, basketball, rugby union and golf.

'Sport revolution'

The study also showed the numbers of pupils across years 1 - 13 who participated in at least two hours a week of PE rose from 77% last year to 82% this year.

The numbers involved in competitive sport have also risen, from 28% to 39%.

Mr Loughton welcomed the fact that more pupils were taking part in school sports, and "that both girls and boys regularly play a variety of sports".

"However, young people's involvement in competitive sport remains disappointingly low," he said.

The government aims to "spark a competitive school sport revolution" with the launch of Olympic and Paralympic style school sport competitions in 2012, he added.

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