Almost two thirds of respondents “strongly or tended” to agree that PE should be a core subject in the national curriculum, with 80 per cent agreeing that there should be more opportunities for young people of all ages to be physically active at school. Only 26 per cent thought it was right for children to be taken out of PE for added tuition in the core subjects.
A decisive majority of the general public want more physical activity in schools and would support enhancing PE to core subject status, according to new research commissioned by the Youth Sports Trust.
The major survey of adults, of whom many were parents, demonstrated a clear national belief in the wide-ranging benefits of sport and also only limited support for cutting PE in schools to allow for additional tuition in the three core subjects of English, maths and science.
Although sports minister Mims Davies has said that the development of physical literacy in schools should be placed on a par with reading and maths, schools are at liberty to decide how much time is dedicated to PE. Research last year reported that 38 per cent of secondary schools have cut their PE time in the last five years for children aged between 14 and 16 amid the pressure of exams and core subjects.
The teacher workforce census also showed that the number of hours taught in PE to pupils in state-funded secondary schools had dipped by more than 50,000 from 333,800 in 2010 to 282,200 in 2017.
This new research, which was undertaken by YouGov last month and follows the launch of The Telegraph’s “Girls, Inspired” campaign to tackle a national crisis of inactivity that is especially acute among girls, shows just how much PE is valued by the general public.
An appreciation of the multiple benefits of PE was also striking. Almost two-thirds thought that it improved children’s academic performance; 82 per cent said that it improved a child’s mental wellbeing; almost 90 per cent saw the physical benefits; and 80 per cent thought that it aided social wellbeing.
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