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Compulsory PE in School

By: Joanne Walker BA (hons) - Updated: 10 Nov 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Pe Physical Education Sport Activities

Physical education is compulsory in schools until the age of 16 when students take their GCSEs. Unfortunately, many students do not take PE as a GCSE subject and some schools do not even offer it. So, by making PE a compulsory part of the national curriculum, parents can at least rest assured that their children are getting some form of organised exercise up to and until a certain age – and maybe that this will be enough to inspire them with a passion for sport and exercise for the future. Having said that, there are also parents who believe their children should not be made to take part in compulsory PE if they do not want to.

Primary School

PE must be offered by schools at primary level although often, the focus is less on organised sport and more on having fun and keeping fit – ideal for young children who will simply love the chance to get out of the classroom and run around – be it the playground or school hall.

Children in primary schools should be spending an absolute minimum of 75 minutes a week in compulsory PE lessons. Although this may seem like a lot for small children to take part in in one go, when it is broken into two or three lessons throughout the week, it is easy to see how 75 minutes is really not that much – and certainly not enough to keep a child fit and healthy if they are doing no other exercise. That is why many schools increase the level as they see fit.

At the first level, key stage one, children have to undertake some basic structure to their lessons – including things such as dance or gymnastics. But as they reach key stage two, teachers have to offer them a wider range of activities such as swimming and athletics.

Secondary School

By the time children go to secondary school, they must increase the amount of PE they do to 90 minutes a week. Older children can often be less enthusiastic about PE and so it is important to offer them a range of sports and activities that they will all enjoy. In some cases, it may even be appropriate to offer choices, if staffing levels allow.

If a child takes PE as a GCSE, the focus shifts from merely participating to a much more involved course of study, looking at health and well-being and even sports science and psychology, albeit on a very basic level. If they do not take PE as a GCSE, the compulsory element drops away.

Schools which have an especially strong sporting set up can apply to be specialist sports colleges and they may provide support to other schools in the area which specialise in something else, meaning every child gets the benefit of the extra expertise.

Compulsory PE exists for a very good reason – to give children who would not otherwise do any exercise the chance to be active. There is also an argument for saying the compulsory element should extend beyond the 16 year-old cut off and encourage children to play sport at school well into their teens and while taking A-levels.

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In my school. I have two timetables week A and Week B. Week B there is only 2 pe lessons Tuesday and Wednesday but week A there is Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. I'm in year 10 and we play dodgeball which I hate because I tend to get out really quickly. I also don't like it because I have ADHD and I have to do it, but my brother has ADHD and autism he doesn't have to do it. My aunty taught me these people who can't teach, teach PE. In PE I get changed in the disabled toilets so I'm not with the other girls so that's good but the girls literally shout shout shout and shout in the sports hall even if you're trying. I have 2 social Skills on week b miss religion and citizenship which is fine because they're not my option lessons. In social skills, this boy gets taken out of Pe.
Charlotte Marie Apri - 10-Nov-18 @ 4:41 PM
My daughter who is in year 10 has a new P.E teacher and I'm constantly receiving texts saying something from her P.E kit is missing, first it was her socks which her dad bought for her, now it's her jogging bottoms which she's been using for the last year no problem, getting fed up of this really petty teacher, she already doesn't like P.E and this teacher is making it miserable for her, what can i do? Can I refuse to let her do P.E? Is it a law that they have to do it?
Michelle - 28-Sep-18 @ 5:40 AM
My son has no pe at all, he has been given booster lessons for maths and when he reaches his (or their!) target he gets his pe back!!! he is in year 10, can they do this??
Stan - 12-Sep-18 @ 3:12 PM
Disgusted to find that my child's new timetable for year 11, has increased PE to two sessions a week, thereby losing one of his GCE subjects!My child does not want to continue with sport in school, he's fit and plays football in his spare time and runs. This is crazy. His time needs to be spent focusing on his exams.... not cricket or basketball. Why don't students in year 11 have a choice?
Mater - 5-Sep-18 @ 5:16 PM
Ella - Your Question:
Hello, I am in my last year of secondary school. I am hoping to go to sixth form. Will I still have to do physical education in sixth form

Our Response:
No, physical education is only compulsory up to year 11. You should check that the particular school or colleges does not include it as part of their policy though.
KidsExercise - 22-May-18 @ 2:24 PM
Hello, i am in my last year of secondary school. I am hoping to go to sixth form. Will I still have to do physical education in sixth form
Ella - 16-May-18 @ 11:11 AM
Kayla - Your Question:
Is pe compulsory for year eleven students when there exams start

Our Response:
Yes PE is compulsory until the school year officially ends.
KidsExercise - 14-May-18 @ 1:45 PM
Is pe compulsory for year eleven students when there exams start
Kayla - 13-May-18 @ 9:13 PM
Megg - Your Question:
I feel really upset because I'm in year 7 and I am scared and self conscious about my body.my teach erickah makes me run and race peopee infrent of the boys wich are so I mature and it's boiling and I don't have confidence plz help me

Our Response:
Speak to your school's pastoral advisor about this. They may be able to talk to your PE teacher.
KidsExercise - 27-Apr-18 @ 2:15 PM
I feel really upset because I'm in year 7 and I am scared and self conscious about my body.my teach erickah makes me run and race peopee infrent of the boys wich are so I mature and it's boiling and I don't have confidence plz help me
Megg - 24-Apr-18 @ 8:35 PM
Josh - Your Question:
I think that if we hate pe we don't have to do it like I moved fron canada and I'm already 16 in year 10 do I still have to do it. I'd rather have extra maths which is struggle with it. Can I refuse to do pe

Our Response:
PE is one of the compulsory "foundation" subjects. Compulsory means it's not a choice so no, you cannot refuse to do it.
KidsExercise - 20-Apr-18 @ 1:52 PM
I think that if we hate pe we don't have to do it like I moved fron canada and I'm already 16 in year 10 do I still have to do it.I'd rather have extra maths which is struggle with it. Can I refuse to do pe
Josh - 18-Apr-18 @ 8:04 AM
My daughter has a very bad anxiety problem and her anxiety is triggered by sport with her class. Is pe still compulsory for her considering it has a negative effect on her mental health?
teaganH - 19-Mar-18 @ 11:05 PM
after Reading some of the other comments, some of the people are exactly the same is me. I agree that pe shouldnt be compulsory if you are not taking this subject for GCSE or if you find it difficult to get on with others in your pe class. Me and all my friends think that pe is a wasted lesson and think that we should be aloud to use the pe time to do extra maths English or science and my parents agree with me so why can’t I do this
Lily - 1-Mar-18 @ 11:12 PM
Harmony - Your Question:
Why is physical education compulsory in year 11 when year 11?students are not children they are almost young adults,year 11 is the hardest year of school and the most important and need to do revision for their Exams, I am really puzzled thinking about why year 11s have to do pe if they are not doing the subject for GCSE. I am a year 11 student and I have learning difficulties and I am in bottom sets for every lesson So I would prefer to do extra maths and English instead of pe and in pe I have anxiety very bad. The other students are always shouting and I am also self conscious of my body and feel that the other students are staring at me pe is just inconvenient in my eyes

Our Response:
Exercise is a vital part of your every day life and like PSHE, PE is a subject the schools are required to provide in order to give a "rounded" education to all young people.
KidsExercise - 5-Jan-18 @ 10:52 AM
Why is physical education compulsory in year 11 when year 11?students are not children they are almost young adults,year 11 is the hardest year of school and the most important and need to do revision for their Exams, I am really puzzled thinking about why year 11s have to do pe if they are not doing the subject for GCSE. I am a year 11 student and I have learning difficulties and I am in bottom sets for every lesson So I would prefer to do extra maths and English instead of pe and in pe I have anxiety very bad. The other students are always shouting and I am also self conscious of my body and feel that the other students are staring at me pe is just inconvenient in my eyes
Harmony - 2-Jan-18 @ 7:13 PM
Will - Your Question:
I've no idea where you got "compulsory" from in regards to KS4 PE, but it is not compulsory by law. If you don't do it, then your school won't meet your national curriculum target, but that doesn't make it compulsory.

Our Response:
Most schools do however, want/aim to meet the requirements so pupils are expected to attend in the same way they are expected to attend classes in maths, history etc etc.
KidsExercise - 5-Dec-17 @ 2:20 PM
I've no idea where you got "compulsory" from in regards to KS4 PE, but it is not compulsory by law. If you don't do it, then your school won't meet your national curriculum target, but that doesn't make it compulsory.
Will - 4-Dec-17 @ 3:51 PM
Cc - Your Question:
Hi I am in year 11 and doing my mock exams in a few weeks and then a bit after that I have real exams. My last years pe teacher said that pe isn’t compulsory at 16 years old and I am 16 in a few months but my pe teacher now says it is. As I am doing my exams soon I would prefer to do revision and I hate pe.

Our Response:
PE is compulsory right up until your curriculum lessons stop and exams (GCSEs) start in May or June, sorry.
KidsExercise - 15-Nov-17 @ 12:41 PM
Hi I am in year 11 and doing my mock exams in a few weeks and then a bit after that I have real exams. My last years pe teacher said that pe isn’t compulsory at 16 years old and I am 16 in a few months but my pe teacher now says it is . As I am doing my exams soon I would prefer to do revision and I hate pe.
Cc - 14-Nov-17 @ 12:50 PM
Hi by 8 yr old son is behind in his English and maths. The school have said that if he does not complete his work in the morning then he can't join in with PE or other lesson. My son also has austisum. Can the school refuse him PE?? I'm not happy about and my son is now setting himself up to fail as he knows he won't be able to join in.
Jellybean - 4-Oct-17 @ 10:34 PM
Crazymoo - Your Question:
Hi,My child is in year 9 in September (ks3), he has just received his new timetable and there is no PE on it, is this allowed as I thought it was compulsory

Our Response:
Yes PE is a compulsory subject right through key stages 3 and 4. Check that it is not actually included under another "umbrella term" rather than named "PE" specifically. If not, make a complaint via the head and/or board of governors.
KidsExercise - 25-Jul-17 @ 10:38 AM
Hi, My child is in year 9 in September (ks3), he has just received his new timetable and there is no PE on it, is this allowed as I thought it was compulsory
Crazymoo - 18-Jul-17 @ 12:16 AM
Hazel - Your Question:
I am in year 9, so I have chosen my GCSE options. Therefore, I enjoy and can engage in all my lessons, as I chose them (apart from maths, science and English, but I like these subjects, and I understand why these are extremely important).apart from PE. I absolutely detest Wednesdays, the day we do compulsory PE. I have social anxiety, so being a slow runner, and terrible at most sports, PE lessons are a nightmare. If you are terrible at, for example, maths, you will not be forced to do maths in front of everyone in the class, where everyone can see how bad you are at it. In fact, it is likely you will be in a lower set, so everyone else in the class has a similar ability to you. However this is not the case in PE. Some children in the classes are amazing, while some children, like me, are awful. If this isn't bad enough,EVERYONE can see you coming last in a race, or missing the ball. This is embarrassing for anyone, let alone someone with anxiety. I'm not the only one-a girl in my PE class broke down into tears in a lesson because we were doing the high jump, and taking it in turns to jump. Everyone was watching you (I stayed at the back of the line, refusing to go. PE is the only lesson I barely engage in- I am in the highest ability sets for all my subjects) and she knew she wouldn't be good. It's cruel to force someone to do something like that. Aren't schools supposed to be friendly for children with mental health problems? PE lessons are distressing for children with autism, anxiety and other issues. At this age, when we are considered old enough to chose the GCSE options that may well influence the rest of out lives, surely we are old enough to choose whether we can do PE or not? I'm all for keeping fit, but not in this open manner. I'd rather run on a treadmill by myself, or in a small group, than take part in team sports where people can see how fast you're running. If we must do some form of exercise, we should at least get to choose how we get the exercise. Sorry if my comment isn't very well written, but if I spent the time wasted I spend feeling depressed and humiliated in PE lessons in an extra English lesson instead, I could be better at writing arguments.

Our Response:
Most PE teachers are great at including those who are less interested in the sports on offer and will make a big effort to provide alternatives such as dance, badminton, time in the fitness suite etc. They do have to complete certain elements of the curriculum though, which is why you have to go through the rituals of learning things like high jump (though even if you ever needed to jump a high fence for some reason, you'd not consider doing a fosbury flop we agree). You've expressed yourself very articulately here, so why not pen a similar statement for school? Get anyone else who's interested to sign and if you can come up with alternatives/solutions, we're sure your PE teacher and year leaders would consider them. Put it in your school suggestions box, pass it to your school council, student voice or give it directly to staff.
KidsExercise - 10-May-17 @ 2:30 PM
I am in year 9, so I have chosen my GCSE options. Therefore, I enjoy and can engage in all my lessons, as I chose them (apart from maths, science and English, but I like these subjects, and I understand why these are extremely important)...apart from PE. I absolutely detest Wednesdays, the day we do compulsory PE. I have social anxiety, so being a slow runner, and terrible at most sports, PE lessons are a nightmare. If you are terrible at, for example, maths, you will not be forced to do maths in front of everyone in the class, where everyone can see how bad you are at it. In fact, it is likely you will be in a lower set, so everyone else in the class has a similar ability to you. However this is not the case in PE. Some children in the classes are amazing, while some children, like me, are awful. If this isn't bad enough,EVERYONE can see you coming last in a race, or missing the ball. This is embarrassing for anyone, let alone someone with anxiety. I'm not the only one-a girl in my PE class broke down into tears in a lesson because we were doing the high jump, and taking it in turns to jump. Everyone was watching you (I stayed at the back of the line, refusing to go. PE is the only lesson I barely engage in- I am in the highest ability sets for all my subjects) and she knew she wouldn't be good. It's cruel to force someone to do something like that. Aren't schools supposed to be friendly for children with mental health problems? PE lessons are distressing for children with autism, anxiety and other issues. At this age, when we are considered old enough to chose the GCSE options that may well influence the rest of out lives, surely we are old enough to choose whether we can do PE or not? I'm all for keeping fit, but not in this open manner. I'd rather run on a treadmill by myself, or in a small group, than take part in team sports where people can see how fast you're running. If we must do some form of exercise, we should at least get to choose how we get the exercise. Sorry if my comment isn't very well written, but if I spent the time wasted I spend feeling depressed and humiliated in PE lessons in an extra English lesson instead, I could be better at writing arguments.
Hazel - 9-May-17 @ 9:02 PM
Wendywoo - Your Question:
My son is 8years old and is slightly overweight his teacher has not allowed him to do any p.e lessons in the past month due to him not completing his work on time I strongly disagree with this had every child should do p.e I've suggested that the teacher gives him the work to complete at home or for him to miss his playtime to complete it surely she is breaking the rules excluding him from p.e

Our Response:
We've known of this policy in some other schools and heartily disapprove. Ask your head teacher for a information on the behaviour policy...all good schools should have one. Missing a lesson that is part of the curriculum should not be included as one fo the sanctions for bad behaviour.If this continues you could try addressing it with the board of governors.
KidsExercise - 29-Mar-17 @ 2:00 PM
My son is 8years old and is slightly overweight his teacher has not allowed him to do any p.e lessons in the past month due to him not completing his work on time I strongly disagree with this had every child should do p.e I've suggested that the teacher gives him the work to complete at home or for him to miss his playtime to complete it surely she is breaking the rules excluding him from p.e
Wendywoo - 29-Mar-17 @ 1:01 PM
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Latest Comments
  • Charlotte Marie Apri
    Re: Compulsory PE in School
    In my school. I have two timetables week A and Week B. Week B there is only 2 pe lessons Tuesday and Wednesday but week A there is…
    10 November 2018
  • Michelle
    Re: Compulsory PE in School
    My daughter who is in year 10 has a new P.E teacher and I'm constantly receiving texts saying something from her P.E kit is missing,…
    28 September 2018
  • Stan
    Re: Compulsory PE in School
    My son has no pe at all, he has been given booster lessons for maths and when he reaches his (or their!) target he gets his pe back!!! he…
    12 September 2018
  • Mater
    Re: Compulsory PE in School
    Disgusted to find that my child's new timetable for year 11, has increased PE to two sessions a week, thereby losing one of his GCE…
    5 September 2018
  • Bellybutton
    Re: Can Too Much Exercise Damage a Child?
    I am my wits end with my 14 year old daughter is very active playing football which is her love and passion she is on…
    14 July 2018
  • KidsExercise
    Re: Compulsory PE in School
    Ella - Your Question:Hello, I am in my last year of secondary school. I am hoping to go to sixth form. Will I still have to do physical…
    22 May 2018
  • Ella
    Re: Compulsory PE in School
    Hello, i am in my last year of secondary school. I am hoping to go to sixth form. Will I still have to do physical education in sixth form
    16 May 2018
  • KidsExercise
    Re: Compulsory PE in School
    Kayla - Your Question:Is pe compulsory for year eleven students when there exams startOur Response:
    14 May 2018
  • Kayla
    Re: Compulsory PE in School
    Is pe compulsory for year eleven students when there exams start
    13 May 2018
  • KidsExercise
    Re: Compulsory PE in School
    Megg - Your Question:I feel really upset because I'm in year 7 and I am scared and self conscious about my body.my teach erickah makes me…
    27 April 2018