SDLP Spokesperson for Sport Justin McNulty MLA has expressed alarm at the inadequate provision of Physical Education (PE) in a majority of schools.
According to a report published by the Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI), Physical Education is a highly-valued and prioritised aspect of children’s learning in just 48% of schools.
At the remaining 52% of schools, the vision and strategic planning for PE is underdeveloped and not effective enough. The delivery of the PE curriculum is not adequately prioritised in most schools, while in 30% of primary schools accommodation is inadequate impacting both the planning and delivery of PE.
Newry & Armagh MLA Mr McNulty said:
“There are undoubtedly extraordinary pressures on schools as we emerge from the Covid-19 crisis, and whilst it is vital that schools deliver a recovery plan to close the gap that was left through widespread disruption to education, it is equally important that PE forms a key component of that recovery programme.
“Physical Education is essential for the physical and mental wellbeing of our young people. Physical activity, and the mental stimulation that flows from it forms the foundation stone of effective learning and improved academic outcomes. Physical literacy is equally as important as A, B, C’s and 1, 2, 3’s. It is startling and very concerning that in 74% of all schools visited by the ETI they were unable to provide children across all key stages the minimum statutory entitlement of two hours of PE each week.
“PE must be a fundamental in the education of children of every ability and not just an optional bolt-on. Aside from the physical development of coordination, dexterity, balance and movement skills, the positive character trait growth including resilience, team working, goal setting, self and peer assessment and collaborative learning are enormously important foundations for life.
“Developing every child’s physical literacy must be a fundamental component of what our society is geared towards. PE unlocks doors and can develop the motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge and understanding enabling every child to value and participate in physical activity throughout their lives.
“Our education system, through the elevated prominence of PE in the curriculum, must nurture happier more resilient children who are not only better equipped to meet academic and life challenges, but will also be given the foundational habits to help guard against diabetes, obesity and heart disease.”