Page last updated at 11:47 GMT, Wednesday, 1 April 2009 12:47 UK

Skateboarding and yoga boost PE

Boy skateboarding
Alternative sports are helping to encourage physical activity

Non-traditional school sports such as skateboarding, cheerleading, golf and yoga are increasing the popularity of PE lessons in England, inspectors say.

Oftsed inspectors said alternative sports including street dance and martial arts had "improved engagement", particularly among vulnerable groups.

But the school inspectors' report said the broader picture of young people's health and fitness was worrying.

It said pupils must take "decisive action to halt the trend to obesity".

The report said: "The rate of obesity in young people continues to rise; projections are frightening - for example that nine in 10 adults and two thirds of children will be obese by 2050.

"The challenge is for all schools to find time for physical education and to give young people the skills and dispositions to last them into adulthood so they make independent choices about healthy lifestyles.

Two hours of sport

Inspectors found pupils' achievement was good or outstanding in two thirds of the primary and in over three quarters of the secondary schools visited.

The majority of the 99 primary schools inspected were offering two hours of PE, in line with the government's 2002 target.

And inspectors praised primary schools for providing a full PE curriculum "despite cramped hall space or limited outdoor facilities, or both".

Of the 84 secondary schools visited, nine out of 10 offered two hours of physical education each week in Key Stage 3 (11 to 14 year-olds).

But this provision reduced significantly for pupils preparing for GCSEs.

Less than half of the schools visited offered two hours or more at Key Stage 4 (14 to 16-year-olds) and in one of the schools, pupils had only 30 minutes a week of PE.

Use of ICT

Inspectors said schools needed to make more use of new technologies in teaching PE.

Example of good practice in some of the primary schools visited included using digital cameras to evaluate pupils' performance and getting pupils to view their gymnastics performance on laptops.

Fewer than one in 10 of the secondary schools visited used information communication technology (ICT) to stimulate pupils' interest.

Procedures for assessing, recording and tracking students' progress remained "a relative weakness" in many of the schools visited.

Primary schools were urged to make better connections between PE and other subjects - such as science in the context of a healthy lifestyle - to help pupils put their learning in context.

Inspectors said PE teaching in primary schools was more variable than in secondaries, because the subject tended to be taught by class teachers rather than specialists.

Schools that used teachers with specialist knowledge to teach all PE lessons had higher standards, they said.

Children's minister Delyth Morgan said the government's investment in PE and school sport had paid off.

"More young people are doing at least two hours' high quality PE and sport than ever before, and the quality of PE and sport that they are doing is continually improving."

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