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Compulsory PE in School

By: Joanne Walker BA (hons) - Updated: 18 Jul 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
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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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[Add a Comment]
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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