In the debate MP Edward Timpson made the case for a move towards PE becoming a core subject given the “very real prospect of changing the trajectory of so many young people towards a healthier and more fulfilling life. The evidence is staring us in the face,” he said.
Youth Sport Trust research conducted in 2018 was referenced as evidence showing the whistle has been blown on PE time again in secondary schools with 42,285 hours of PE lost from state-funded secondary schools between 2011/12 and 2020/21. More recent research from the charity also showed an appetite from parents for more physical activity in schools and PE as a core subject.
In a debate with MPs across the country present on Wednesday, Mr Timpson said: “It is no coincidence that the very best schools, both state and independent, have for many years understood that the holistic intertwining of PE into their school offer reaps rewards in so many different ways—physically, socially, emotionally and academically, too.”
Funding issues in the sector were addressed with Mr Timpson stating an urgent need for funding to be confirmed for School Games Organisers. He continued: “…long-term funding makes a significant difference to schools’ ability to bed in some of the practical improvements that they need in the way that they teach PE. Do we not also need confirmation from the Government in relation to School Games Organisers by 7 April, so that they can continue their excellent work on interschool and intraschool competitions, which have been so successful over the last 10 years?”
In response, Children & Families Minister Will Quince MP said he was sympathetic to the case for PE being a core subject and would raise it with the school’s minister but that: “…with the recovery from covid under way, we remain wary of making technical changes to the curriculum now. That could place additional burdens on teacher workloads and training requirements by introducing changes, which is particularly relevant as schools start to recover from the pandemic.”
On the funding issue he said: “I desperately want to give that long-term certainty of funding. All I can say is that I am working closely with the Department of Health and Social Care to enable us to do that as soon as possible. We are considering a series of approaches to bring together the evidence of what constitutes really good PE, how that can be delivered practically and how to support schools to identify and take the steps necessary to make their provision as good as it can be.
“My hon. Friend the Member for Eddisbury referred to the school sport and activity action plan. We remain committed to the ambitions that we set out in the plan and we will publish an update to it later this year, to align with our publication of the new sports strategy. That action plan update will not only cover ground lost during the covid-19 restrictions but boost momentum to deliver an action plan for all pupils, regardless of their background.”
The debate also saw an ambition from the education minister Will Quince for the UK to become a ‘daily mile’ nation with the initiative adopted not just for schools but for everyone. Read the debate in full.
The Youth Sport Trust has just launched its annual National School Sport Week awareness campaign and is encouraging schools to sign up for the week between 20 and 26 June to ensure there is a place for every young person to belong in school sport this summer and beyond. www.youthsporttrust.org/join-us/national-school-sport-week.