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Last Updated: Monday, 16 January 2006, 16:55 GMT
Minister exercised over PE issue
School sports
Mr Peacock said some pupils were not getting enough PE lessons
Only one in 20 primary school pupils in Scotland is receiving two hours of physical education a week, the education minister has said.

Peter Peacock said schools and councils must improve their PE allocation which "isn't nearly good enough".

Figures show only 5% of primary and 6% of secondary school pupils currently meet the Scottish Executive target of two hours' PE for every pupil by 2008.

The councils' umbrella group Cosla said the target was achievable.

The executive launched an action plan in 2004 to address weaknesses in the PE system and tackle childhood obesity.

Mr Peacock said the statistics for 2004-05 suggested more time should be given to PE lessons.

Peter Peacock
Only one in 20 of Scotland's primary school pupils currently receive two hours' PE per week and this clearly isn't nearly good enough
Peter Peacock
Education Minister

"Some areas of Scotland are performing much better than others in providing physical education in our schools and some, like Glasgow, are making significant new commitments to make decisive progress," he said.

"However, I am seriously concerned about the huge gap between the best performing and those who lag significantly behind.

"The best performing show what is possible and others need to catch up and go further."

The minister added: "Only one in 20 of Scotland's primary school pupils currently receive two hours' PE per week and this clearly isn't nearly good enough.

Qualified teachers

"Councils need to take significant new steps to make real progress."

Independent MSP Margo MacDonald, a former PE teacher, claimed the executive would not be able to meet the target to increase qualified PE teachers because of the number of courses available.

She also urged ministers to bring in short-term measures to tackle the problem, including allowing students studying subjects such as dance to help out with PE lessons.

"Although these people are not qualified teachers, they are skilled in movement and would be able to assist PE teachers in the same way as classroom assistants have been taken on to help classroom-based teachers," Ms MacDonald said.

Child in playground
The executive wants pupils to get two hours of PE every week by 2008

Angus Council provided the most PE time for primary pupils, with 97 minutes, while East Renfrewshire came top of the list for providing the most for secondary school pupils, at 95 minutes.

Western Isles Council provided the least time for both primary and secondary pupils - 46 minutes and 50 minutes respectively.

Mr Peacock is seeking assurances from council education bosses for quick improvements in the worst performing areas.

The statistics for 2004-05 also showed a tenfold increase in PE recruits.

The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla) said councils were committed to increasing PE for pupils.

'Big task'

Cosla education spokesman Ewan Aitken said: "Councils are committed to increasing physical activity amongst our young people. We know what we have to do and we are going to do it.

"The task is a big one but it is do-able and remember the target is for 2008 which is still a couple of years away."

The Scottish National Party said the executive's efforts to tackle the problem were "abysmal".

SNP education spokeswoman Fiona Hyslop said: "The executive's recruitment of PE teachers has been slow - it started late and proceeded slowly in initial teacher recruitment and is failing miserably to tackle workforce planning."

Minister discusses concern over too few PE classes

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