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Page last updated at 14:02 GMT, Saturday, 26 June 2010 15:02 UK

PE participation in South East is 'lowest in country'

Helen Drew
By Helen Drew
Politics Show
BBC South East

Children playing cricket
Exercising can encourage team-playing and competition skills

According to the Department for Education, the number of school children taking part in more than two hours of Physical Education per week the South East was the lowest in the country, at 47%.

The national average is 50% and at 24%, Medway has the lowest.

At the moment, it is compulsory for primary and secondary school children to do two hours of PE a week.

The government would like to increase that to five hours over the next few years.

Selling off playing fields

Aside from school PE lessons, many children play sport out of school, often on community playing fields.

Over the last few years many fields have been sold to make way for developments and houses.

Lydia Greenway
We need to get rid of the stigma of PE lessons and get them out there
Lydia Greenway, Woman's England cricketer

In the South East, more playing fields have been sold off than in any other region.

So how important is it for children to play sport?

Lydia Greenway, from the woman's England cricket team and local Kent resident explains:

"There is probably just a bit of stereotype with PE lessons.

"It has probably been around for quite a while with some children saying they are not very good at sport.

"These days there are so many multi-skills and I think every child could find something that they would be good at.

"We need to get rid of the stigma of PE lessons and get them out there, giving it a go."

PE Participation

Government surveys have shown that the level of participation in PE is lower in:

  • Areas of deprivation
  • Where a lot of pupils are eligible for free school meals
  • Where there is a high proportion of children from an ethnic minority

Other than the obvious health benefits associated with exercising and playing sport, there are plenty of other perceived benefits, including encouraging team-playing skills and competition.

Cricket events

This week, the Cricket Foundation organised nationwide events through their charitable campaign Chance to Shine.

The events were organised to get school children interested in the sport and the South East's event took place in Margate.

Primary school children, aged from nine to 11 enjoyed a day-long tournament.

They also got coaching from England women's player Lydia Greenway.

In the last 18 months the England women's cricket team has won the World Cup, the Twenty20 World Cup and retained the ashes.

Watch the programme again on BBC iPlayer

School sport 'simply not cricket'
26 Apr 10 |  Education & Family
Police to play sport at schools
10 Feb 10 |  Beds/Bucks/Herts
Free running in the playground
26 Jan 10 |  UK
PE lessons are fun for the young
02 Apr 09 |  England


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