Following the success of the Youth Sport Trust's National School Sport Week, the children's charity has released new data with Votes for Schools and Greenhouse Sports looking at what PE means to young people.
Hundreds of schools held class discussions about what the subject teaches them and if they think it will help them to get a job one day. In an online survey of 6,540 pupils, carried out by Votes for Schools, 84% of primary school pupils said they thought what they learnt in PE would help them to get a job one day. 66% of secondary school students said they agreed.
YST Chief Executive Ali Oliver said:
National School Sport Week is all about celebrating the huge difference that PE and sport make to young people’s lives. This year – the 10th anniversary of National School Sport Week – thousands of schools have joined to celebrate the role of sport and play.
Competition and sport will always be important, but the role of PE in young people’s development is about so much more than just that. It is really heartening to see that so many young people recognise the life-enhancing value of a good quality physical education.
Teamwork, leadership, communication skills, confidence and resilience are all part of what physical education should be equipping young people with, in addition to improving their physical wellbeing. These are all skills and attributes which help pupils thrive in other subjects and throughout their lives.
But it is clear that, at a time when curriculum time for PE in secondary schools is being cut and children have never been less active, we need to do more to reinforce the subject’s value. This means transforming the way PE is taught, perceived and valued to ensure it is positioned as a core subject, just as important to a young person’s development as maths and English.
In anonymised comments from pupils responding to the survey, one pupil said:
"PE is important because it improves teamwork – a key element in most jobs – and builds perseverance in day-to-day life. While it may not be directly involved with how you make a living, it’s always helpful and will constantly be helping you, even if you don’t realise it."
PE is just like any other subject and school should involve it in the curriculum more because it gives us qualities like teamwork and discipline which is vital for job interviews.
However, not everyone agreed that what they learn in PE would help them to get a job – reinforcing the need to transform the subject’s place in the curriculum.
One respondent said: “Unless you are going to be an athlete or PE teacher, you do not need PE.”
Research published by YST earlier this year found that 38% of secondary schools in England had reduced the amount of core curriculum PE on the timetable since 2012.
In the charity’s new strategy, Believing in Every Child’s Future, it sets out a call to transform physical education – protecting curriculum time and putting it at the centre of wellbeing and achievement in education.