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EDITIONS
Monday, 28 February, 2000, 09:40 GMT
Sport 'squeezed out of schools'
rugby
School sport losing out to other subjects
Schoolchildren in England are spending far less time on sport than they did five years ago, according to research.

The survey, by the official development organisation Sport England, suggests that sport has become less of a priority than other parts of the national curriculum.

Sports Minister Kate Hoey has said she will investigate what is happening.

According to the figures, only 11% of children aged six to eight spent two hours or more a week in PE lessons last year. That is down almost a third on the figures from five years ago.
Kate Hoey
Kate Hoey: teachers need more training
And children aged nine to 11 also spent less time in PE, with just one in five in lessons from two hours or more, half the proportion that did so in 1994.

Ms Hoey told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I think there is now a case that we really have to see what more we can do to improve training for primary school teachers.

"There is no doubt that the more youngsters get a good quality PE and sport experience at primary school, the more likely they are to stay in sport.

"If they have the talent, move right to the top and become our winners."

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) said it was "deeply concerned" by the findings.

Dr Vivienne Press, assistant medical director, said: "The BHF encourages all schools to offer pupils at least two hours a week of physical activity within and outside the national curriculum.

"Learning at an early age that sport and physical activity are not only beneficial to health, but also enjoyable, is important in establishing good exercise patterns for life."

Learning at an early age is important in establishing good exercise patterns for life

British Heart Foundation
The Sport England survey also suggests that 95% of primary schools have no full-time specialist PE teachers, and 85% no part-time staff.

One in four teachers - one in five in primary schools and one in three in secondary - felt sports facilities at their schools were inadequate.
girls' football
In some primary schools, PE is rarely taught
Sport England chairman Trevor Brooking said the findings of the survey were disturbing.

"Primary teachers I have met all give of their best, but if they don't get sufficient PE guidance within their initial teacher training, they don't feel confident teaching young children the right techniques," he said.

"More time needs to be spent training teachers and more time for PE needs to be built into the curriculum.

"Heads and teachers are under pressure from competing priorities, but I really cannot stress strongly enough just how important it is to teach children the benefits of physical activity from a young age."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Kate Hoey, Sports Minister
"We have to look at what is happening in primary schools"
Trevor Brooking, Chairman Sport England
"It confirms what we've been saying"
The BBC's Sue Littlemore
"Squeezed out of the school day"
See also:

28 Feb 00 | UK
25 Jan 00 | UK Education
22 Nov 99 | UK Education
06 Jan 00 | UK Education
05 Oct 99 | UK Education
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