Page last updated at 17:07 GMT, Thursday, 14 May 2009 18:07 UK

Committee criticises PE 'failure'

Teenagers playing football
Only East Renfrewshire Council met the two-hour target

Attempts to give every school pupil at least two hours of physical education a week have been a "lamentable failure", a Holyrood committee has concluded.

The health and sport committee said a "radical overhaul" of school PE was required to ensure pupils become more physically active.

It said Scottish Government targets set in 2004 to achieve the two-hour target by 2008 had been "missed completely".

The government said it would "reflect" on the committee's recommendations.

Out of 50 secondary schools inspected in 2008, two thirds met the target at S1 and S2, a majority at S3 and S4 - but only one in seven at S5 and S6.

Only one local authority - East Renfrewshire - managed the target, although good progress was being made by some other councils including Perth and Kinross and Clackmannanshire.

We know that active children are more likely to do well at school
Chritine Grahame MSP

Committee convener Christine Grahame MSP said it was clear from evidence presented to the committee that the likes of tennis star Andy Murray and Olympic cycling gold medallist Chris Hoy had failed to inspire Scots to get off the sofa and do more exercise.

She added: "We know that active children are more likely to do well at school so more PE in the curriculum is likely to produce educational benefits.

"Unfortunately, the target of ensuring that all school pupils received two hours PE by 2008 was completely missed.

"We believe that the Scottish Government, directors of education and individual head teachers all need to raise their game to ensure that the target can be met by the new date of August 2010.

"Given the very worrying projections for obesity levels in Scotland, the committee believes we need to put much more emphasis on PE and the links between school and community sports."

Ms Grahame pointed to the example of Renfrewshire Council as an "excellent example" of what was possible.

'Radical action'

"As a result of strong leadership, co-ordinated working and being prepared to take radical action, it has proved that PE performance can be turned around without the need for additional money from central government," she said.

But too many local authorities still failed to treat physical education equally to other parts of the curriculum, she warned.

The committee made a number of recommendations in its 71-page Pathways Into Sport report, including a call for the Scottish Government not to sign off any new local authority single outcome agreement that does not feature the two-hour target.

If any school is unable to meet the target by 2010, the head teacher should be obliged to provide a report stating the reasons, it said.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "This government is strongly committed to young people throughout Scotland receiving two hours quality PE every week, to lay strong foundations for improving the long term health of the nation.

"We expect all schools to continue to work towards the provision of at least two hours physical education for every child, every week.

"We are providing leadership and direction by embedding two hours physical education into Curriculum for Excellence. It is the only component across the new curriculum which has an input target - this reflects the importance we attach to the benefits of PE."

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