Press release

Not enough physical in physical education

Ofsted publishes 'Beyond 2012 – outstanding physical education for all' report

‘Beyond 2012 – outstanding physical education for all’ makes recommendations for schools and the Department for Education to secure the quality of PE in schools and draws out improvements made to PE and sport over the last four years.

The report found that PE is generally in good health. Considerable investment over the last decade has ensured PE is a central part of school life for pupils of all ages. However, in some schools Ofsted found there was not enough physical activity in PE lessons. In more than a quarter of schools, teaching did not improve pupils’ physical fitness.

Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw said:

Physical education is part of every child’s entitlement to a good education. Generally, PE in our schools is in good health, but there are some issues the report highlights as areas for improvement. In particular, we found there often wasn’t enough physical, strenuous activity in PE lessons. Some teachers talked for too long and pupils were not provided with enough activity to enable them to learn or practise their skills.

In many of the schools visited, the more able pupils were not challenged sufficiently because teachers’ expectations of them were too low. Schools with the best PE provision enabled pupils to achieve well by providing an ever increasing range of extra-curricular and traditional activities.

However, our report found that only a minority of schools play competitive sport to a very high level. Therefore I have commissioned a follow-up to today’s report which will examine the quality of the best competitive school sport in the state sector, comparing it with what’s on offer in the independent sector.

Today’s report found there is more good and outstanding PE than at the time of the last Ofsted PE survey in 2008. However, sustaining this level of improvement will present a challenge against a backdrop of greater expectations following last summer’s London Games.

The impact of the School Sports Partnership programme in maximising participation and increasing competition was clearly evident in the vast majority of schools visited. Ofsted recommends that the Department for Education introduces a new national strategy for PE and school sport that builds on the successes of these partnerships - enabling schools to make a major contribution to the legacy left by the 2012 Olympics.

The report also found very few schools had adapted PE programmes to suit the individual needs of overweight or obese pupils. There was little evidence of a coordinated approach to childhood obesity, even though almost 3 in 10 children between the ages of 2 – 15 are classed as obese according to NHS Information Centre figures.

Other key findings in the report include:

  • one fifth of primary schools did not ensure that all pupils could swim before they left school
  • only a minority of schools play competitive sport to a high level
  • outstanding PE was found in twice as many secondary schools as primary
  • many primary school teachers lacked specialist knowledge of the teaching of PE
  • most schools provided at least two hours of PE each week for pupils between the ages of 5 to 14

Key Recommendations

The Department for Education should build on the improvements made to PE and harness the interest and momentum generated by the 2012 London Games by devising and implementing a new national strategy for PE and school sport.

The Department for Education should ensure that those responsible for the initial training of primary teachers should provide them with sufficient subject knowledge to enable them to teach PE well.

Teachers should improve pupils’ fitness by keeping them physically active throughout all lessons and engaging them in regular, high intensity vigorous activity or sustained periods of time.

Teachers should raise their expectations of where more able pupils are capable of achieving and provide them with challenging, competitive activities that lead to high standards of performance.

Notes to Editors

  1. The report is based on evidence from inspections of physical education between September 2008 and July 2012.

  2. The evidence from this report is found from visits by Her Majesty’s Inspectors and Additional Inspectors from Ofsted who visited 120 primary schools, 110 secondary schools and seven special schools.

  3. School sports partnerships (SSP) ceased in October 2010. The SSP were local networks of schools and PE teachers aiming to get pupils across England to be more physically active during school hours.

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