Fitter or fatter?


Schools are finding the PE and Sport Strategy for Young People (PESSYP) target of five hours per week increasingly unrealistic despite the forthcoming Olympics, a new survey has found.

In spite of the aim of giving every school pupil access to five hours of PE and sport every week, 60 per cent of primary and 57 per cent of secondary schools are finding this increasingly unrealistic.

The findings of the research from the British Educational Suppliers Association, carried out in conjunction with the National Education Research Panel, revealed the range of diverse and interrelated factors that are having an impact on the level of adoption of PE and sports by schools, including the Olympics and government policy.

Activity has increased in 22 per cent of secondary schools due to the Olympics. The views of primary PE co-ordinators is similar; however, they are less likely to feel that there have been improvements in activity due to government policy, with just 12 per cent citing this as an influencer.

One worrying finding was that only 16 per cent of schools stated that any increase in time committed to PE and sport was due to obesity, despite the UK currently having the highest rate of childhood obesity in Europe, with 25 per cent of young people being classified as obese or overweight.

72 per cent of primary and 75 per cent of secondary schools felt that the only way to realise the target of five hours PE and sport each week was through lunchtime or after-school clubs. However, in light of the government’s recent withdrawal of Out of School House Learning (OSHL) and the dissolution of the School Sports Partnerships, schools are finding the target increasingly unrealistic.

Schools have cut their PE and sport budget down to an average of £550 in primary and £4620 in secondary education, which has lead to 56 per cent of primary schools and 41 per cent of secondary schools having to use Parent Teacher Association (PTA) money and other fundraising activities for new sports and PE resources, an increase from 45 per cent and 22 per cent respectively in 2007.