A lack of PE

I love our primary school and always have. It’s pretty good academically, the teachers are lovely, the building is fabulous and they really strive to give kids an all-round experience of school. There’s just one thing they’re bad at and it’s been niggling me for years. PE.

Sadly it seems there is no statutory requirement to spend a set time on PE, but the advice is for two hours a week.

I think my daughter could count on the fingers of one hand the number of PE lessons she’s had in year 6. And that just isn’t good enough. Kids need exercise, they need to develop physically, they need to learn about team work, they need to get out in the fresh air when it’s cold, rainy and muddy. For some kids, school PE is their only sport or exercise, which is not great if your school isn’t really providing it.

Both of my younger kids have a good degree of natural sporting ability. Introduce any new sport to them and they will naturally be near the top of the class. They are fast, strong and have good hand-eye co-ordination, all essential in sport.

When my younger son started grammar school, he went straight into the A team for rugby and he continues to thrive there. But would he have gone into the A team if he hadn’t spent five years playing club rugby? Would his natural sporting ability raise him above kids who had been doing the two hours a week (or more) of PE at school? Possibly not.

Cricket has become a sore point with my son. Last year, he was all enthusiastic and wanted to play. He practised in the garden and went to cricket practise at school. But he’d never played cricket before. He didn’t make the A team. He got into the B team, but they only had three matches, two of which got cancelled and one he couldn’t play in. We’re not allowed to talk about cricket now. He doesn’t want to play this season.

Because he’s got left behind. He didn’t play cricket at primary school and he’s never played club cricket. His natural sporting ability couldn’t lift him to the level of kids who had been playing for years.

And now my daughter is going to grammar school. She will be surrounded by girls who have been to private schools, or state primaries which have done a lot more PE. She’s never played hockey or netball. How will she get on?

I fear it will be the same situation as my son is in with cricket. My naturally sporty girl will be left behind because she hasn’t had a basic grounding in sport. More than likely, being put in the B or C team or left out altogether, will mean she is either turned off team sport or will have a really tough fight on her hands to raise her game to the level she wants to be at.

Sadly, the lack of PE at their primary school has really let my kids down.

What do you think? How important is sport in primary school? Do you think your kids get enough or too much?

PE, Sport, School sport

Bubbablue and me school days linky

Author: Sarah Mummy

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16 Comments

  1. They always go on about getting kids fit and taking part in exercise on the news you would think there would be a rule that they have to do P.E at primary school….I think sport is really important in primary school….As well as keeping fit it also encourages team work and things like that.
    My year 5 girl has had about 5 P.E lessons since September….Instead of P.E they have been doing Drama lessons since Christmas and before that I don’t know why they didn’t do it….

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    • It’s not just our school then! I assumed there would be an actual law about how much PE they should have, but when I looked it up, it’s only a guideline. I think it’s a real shame for kids in terms of health and fitness and teamwork etc.

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  2. It’s not something that I’ve ever given much thought to before but I think that’s because our school is comparatively good at PE! They dedicate an afternoon a week to PE and never skip it. They choose their own activities in September for the coming year so spend a term doing say football, gymnastics, cricket etc and there’s always lots of choice do something for everyone. They bring in expert coaches and travel to nearby climbing centres, gyms etc too. On top of this though the school also encourage extra activities either as free after school clubs or also in school time. Mine have done cross country races and cheerleading competitions in this term alone and they don’t even think of themselves as being sporty! It seems such a shame that the experience of PE can vary so much from school to school.

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    • That sounds brilliant! I wish our school was like that! My daughter has done a little bit of cross country after school this year and she does a lunchtime dance club. Strangely, our school enters quite a lot of sports competitions against other schools, but always does really badly as the kids are going into it with no training whatsoever!

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  3. I have expressed my displeasure that my daughters school have cancelled pe for sats revision and also asking the children with borderline predicted marks to come in twice a week before school for more revision!

    Pe and physical exercise is important for children, school is where I began my love for long distance running and team sports. Luckily we can afford out of school activities and my son plays rugby and lacrosse and thai boxing outside of school and his grammar school plays a lot of sport. My daughter also plays hockey and netball out of school and I hope that that continues after September and the transition to secondary school.

    I don’t see how they can have healthy lifestyle campaigns but yet keep on reducing the number of hours/sessions that the children get to do at school. what about those children with parents that both work full time so don’t have the time to ferry children to clubs or those who or whatever reason cant afford the subs?

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    • It’s so frustrating! Like you, I feel lucky that we can afford for our kids to do sport outside school, but it’s not the case for some people! Other families place no importance on sport whatsoever, so they wouldn’t think to let their kids do sport outside school, so the kids need it in school! You really would think with all the concern about kids’ health and activity levels that there would be some proper rules that schools have to stick to!

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  4. I hated PE at school and rarely took it. I spent the time writing out the rules. Ours has changed recently to incorporate BMT better movers and thinkers. It’s designed to have them active for 2 hours a week. Giving them instructions only once to improve concentration and balance, co-ordination. They do bleep tests, and they are enjoying seeing their fitness improve. They do sport lessons at lunch and after school as they feel that this doesn’t mean 2 hours would be of moving. x

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    • That sounds really good! I would like to see a combination of this type of activity with learning to play the games they will need to play at secondary school – hockey, netball, football and rugby. Of course there will always be kids who don’t like PE, but it is still so important that they take part for their own fitness and maybe they will actually find a sport they enjoy! x

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  5. Oh gosh, what a crying shame. I do hope your daughter manages to get into netball and hockey when she gets to her next school. I totally agree with you, it’s not acceptable that they don’t do PE. Libby does PE once a week and I’m not convinced that’s enough really. They also do a run occasionally which I quite like, she really enjoys running.
    Nat.x

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    • Even once a week isn’t really enough. I like the idea of running at school! I’ve heard of schools that incorporate a one mile run into the day for the whole school every day. How good is that?! I really hope my daughter can pick up hockey and netball quickly when she gets to secondary school because I think it will knock her confidence if she can’t play.

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  6. I agree and alas my son was disappointed to only get in the C team which meant he hardly ever played until he gave it up completely! You can even see it between the local primaries when they compete which ones seem to think it is important and which ones don’t.

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    • You really can see the difference in the primaries! I’m sure the kids have no more natural talent than our kids, but their talent is nurtured through regular PE. So sorry to hear about your son and the rugby. That’s exactly what I fear will happen to my daughter -and exactly what I don’t want to happen!

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  7. I honestly thought that PE was part of the curriculum, but it appears that’s not the case which is such a shame. Our primary school is quite good with PE as they have an outdoor and an indoor lesson each week. They also tend to focus on different sports, and Katie has been doing Yoga for the past few weeks, which she loves. I agree that you hear so much about kids not getting enough exercise in the news, it really should be made compulsory in both primary and high schools x

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    • I really thought the law said two hours a week, so I looked it up! But there’s no law at all 🙁 My younger son gets so much at secondary school – almost more than his poor muscles can cope with, yet my daughter has nothing! It’s great to hear that Katie is getting regular sport and a good variety too.

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  8. I’m astonished at how little they’ve done. Although I did go to 6th form with a girl who’d only ever done basketball at secondary school, never netball or hockey, yet managed get in the 2nd team for both at private 6th form (admittedly not many girls at the school).

    I immediately thought ‘we didn’t play those sports in primary school’, but we did. Not for lessons but at clubs. So we did hockey after school and netball and even played a couple of netball matches, but we also used to play in the playground sometimes at lunchtimes. I suppose she’s too busy with dance etc to try a term of kids hockey club out of school?

    I have to say though, that most of our sporting prowess and skills were picked up on the estate we lived on. There was a green outside the house and all kids from age 5-16 would go out and play football, cricket, rounders, street hockey, tennis, badminton and whatever other sports we fancied. None of those were played at school (except football, rounders and a bit of tennis – again through clubs rather than PE) but just that extra practice however it comes is good.

    We are lucky with our primary because they have a lot of external coaches come in and they rotate around the different classes through the year. So there’s a football coach, who’s done hockey with them this term, they have a tennis coach in, a dance teacher (for the older ones usually I think), then there are various after school sports as well as lunch time or after school sports clubs. Pretty good for a school with less than 100 kids. But even with that I worry about N and him only being able to fit in swimming lessons and then tennis. We have now managed to arrange someone to pick him up from school and get him to after school club so he can try fundamentals which I think is ball skills and multi sports.

    Hopefully there’s some way she can access the sports – maybe a holiday club at the sports centre (that’s how we learnt squash – 2 weeks intensive summer course)

    Thanks for linking up to #schooldays

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    • Thanks very much! It sounds like N’s school has it sorted. It’s amazing that such a small school provides all of that. Our school is over 400 pupils, but just really doesn’t care about sport!
      When I was at primary (the same school!) we played hockey in lessons and also a club and matches after school. Most of the other schools locally did netball, so I was always behind in netball at secondary school (I’m terrible at throwing and catching anyway). I did play in the hockey team at secondary school though, which just shows that primary school can give a good head start in sport.
      We will have to look into any possible sports clubs in the holidays for my daughter to try. Although, needless to say, cost is a factor as the dance lessons all add up!

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