Home > Exercise in School > Compulsory PE in School

Compulsory PE in School

By: Joanne Walker BA (hons) - Updated: 24 Sep 2019 | 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.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
My son is 8 yrs old and was in football club today. When I came to pick him up they were in shorts and t-shirt outside in heavy rain he was literally dripping wet.Can the school do this? I was horrified.
Cat - 24-Sep-19 @ 4:50 PM
I see some comments on here saying that PE is compulsory, however, the Education Act of 2002 prohibits the Secretary of State for Education from prescribing the amount of time to be spent on any curriculum subject, including PE. The government also doesn't set any targets for PE. Some organisations recommend PE, however, it is not compulsory.
Dave121 - 12-Sep-19 @ 8:05 PM
I'm in Year 10 and P.E is made a living hell for me, the girls in the class shout at you and put you down swearing at you and telling you you're worthless because you're not that sporty. Then the teacher doesn't care either, in fact it seems as though they are just as bad as the kids... Getting changed in the changing room is horrible, it feels as though you're constantly being judged for the way that you're body is and what makes it worse is that the teacher stands in there when you're getting changed! It doesn't seem right that 15 year olds are being watched getting changed by an adult...! P.E has been horrible on my mental health and instead of making me feel healthy and feel like I'm helping my body and teamwork, it makes me feel self conscious and depressed! P.E should not be compulsory! It is stupid to put young people through the hell that P.E brings to the majority, let students pick if they do P.E or not! It's not as if I don't like sport btw, I do sport outside of school and it's fine because I'm not getting judged the entire time, but being with your peers makes it so much worse! Let me do my studies and not feel physically sick about the fact that I have to do P.E for my next lesson! Not only this but the stuff kids do in P.E is rubbish too... How many years in a row do I have to play football?! Please can someone stop P.E being compulsory, im so so sick of being forced to do this or getting detention for forgetting some bloody socks!
PeIsBad - 10-Sep-19 @ 3:11 PM
There is more to pe than simply sports. It is good for growing brain cells (for real). It is good for social skills (if delivered properly). Bad teachers need sorting out, its them not the subject that is wrong. As a trampoline specialist I am aware of Marfans and dwarfs and down-syndrome conditions andmedical implants and the list goes on... All pe specialists should be and as our role is health and wellbeing we should excel at nurture...I am sorry for any youngster that gets some pe but as their teacher...please blame them not the subject
ASN teacher - 25-Aug-19 @ 8:22 PM
My son went through he'll at school because of his bullying pe teacher my son has a pigeon chest and shortness of breath and is currently being tested for marfans he was in a group for kids with learning disabilities but suffered so badly with anxiety no attempt was made by the teacher to address this which caused significant mental health problems causing him to self harm and suicidal thoughts after leaving school he has been diagnosed with marfans and a leaking mitral valve, I feel very angry at the disrespect that we were shown I think that schools should be made more aware of these things before it's to late.
ellz - 6-Aug-19 @ 2:04 AM
I’m 12 and PE in my opinion is stupid. To me, it’s an entrance ticket for bullying. My school especially needs to understand not everyone is going to like sport. I hate it so much I trued getting a day off school because I was scared. For example, if a ball is kicked around me I run away ducking covering my face from the ball. I also get embarrassed getting changed. It makes me feel fat in front of the other kids. I always have a terrible stomach ache of nerve the lesson before it leaving the important lessons stressed out. How do you sort out this cruel lesson ?
Joel - 8-Jun-19 @ 10:33 AM
Im in year 9 and we have 1 double lession a week and in those lessons we are forced to do exercise. The think I hate is the treadmills becauseI don't want to do it people laugh at me and make fun of me that I scream when I do treadmills, even the teachers don't care. I do all other gym equipment but not treadmills and I don't know what's the problem with that. I rather do extra maths or English lession. We should make it a option to do PE. This also makes me depressed and that's why I hate school.
Waleed - 23-Apr-19 @ 12:58 AM
PE needs to not be compulsory for GCSE students, if the kids are unfit that's their problem but PE does not and will not help them, instead thy should be given the opportunity to something that's actually important, like their actual GCSE subjects, PE is just a class for people to feel awkward, embarrassed, and ridiculed in and its extremely wrong to force children who aren't necessarily that good at sports to show their skill, or lack of, to the entire class. We are humans! Not animals! we're not dogs getting ready to show off the new tricks we've learned for a treat, we are 15 and 16 year old human beings trying to get by in an extremely difficult year. We should be allowed to drop the subject after year 9 as there is no good reason to keep it, this doesn't just come from a coupe people but around 90% of students forced to take part in this torturous subject, its unnecessary and cruel.
EndPE - 26-Mar-19 @ 3:02 PM
My son has actually harmed himself on the sole of his foot very badly to avoid PE with one particular teacherwho tries to force him to sit on the sidelines in his kit if he doesn’t partipate. My son is 15 years old and his writing is practically illegible, it’s a nightmare getting him to do his homework (we have no behavioural problems) and is not overweight, does Karate out of school, goes swimmingand is at the local gym working out with a mate right now. Yet school is apparently only interested in sticking to the curriculum and having a meeting with me since it’s a serious accusation that I’ve made in letting them know my son has self harmed for the reasons he has. Thank god he finish’s school forever next year He’s a good lad with all the usual teenage anxieties and pressures he doesn’t deserve to be made to feel this way over one teacher and Compulsory physical education
Mandz - 14-Mar-19 @ 4:37 PM
I am in year 7 and I don't do pe because of my anxiety. The teachers were okay with this and told me to at least write what is going on in the lesson and wear this jacket with the school logo which I am fine with. However they got a bit fed up and told me to get changed into pe kit which I obviously don't want even if I get changed seperate so my parents spoke to the principal and said he will do what ever I feel comfortable with. But the next PE lesson I had, the teachers kept making things up or were misunderstood because they kept saying my parents agreed to me doing this when they didn't! They repeated so many times that you have to get changed because of the law and I felt discriminated in a way. they then we're comparing me with other children who don't have mental illnesses but illnesses like heart problems and worser. Which a teacher definitely can't do because everyone has their own disabilities in their own way and you can't force someone to do this useless subject that won't even help you in life. Therefore is this still against the law?
Rainbow - 13-Feb-19 @ 8:30 PM
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
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
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics