Musings From The Padded Cell

The Failing Of Generations

“Sports teaches you character, it teaches you to play by the rules, it teaches you to know what it feels like to win and lose-it teaches you about life.”
Billie Jean King

This week I received a copy of a paper entitled The Case for Physical Education becoming a Core Subject in the National Curriculum written by Dr Jo Harris, Loughborough University on behalf of the Physical Education Expert Group.

Dr Jo Harris

After wading through this it was impossible not to conclude that it merely states what those of us dismissed as dreamers have been saying for decades. Finally, common sense has hit the world of academia?

The report draws on numerous sources including this published in 2017 – A Report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group On A Fit And Healthy Childhood.

Reading, I found myself shaking my head in angry frustration, mouthing “Told you so!” too many times.

The Harris paper is an admission that the state of the nation’s kids is dire – surprise, surprise – and not only in terms of physical health and fitness. Now the link has been finally recognised between and a healthy body and mind.

Here are a few extracts albeit there is a sneaky suggestion of plagiarism from a little know blog writer, notably an article published many moons back entitled An Olympic Legacy?

My legal team has been notified.

Physical education should be a core subject…it is the only subject whose primary focus is on the body and, in this respect, it uniquely addresses the physical development aim of the curriculum and it also makes a significant contribution to the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of children.

…it develops an interest in and patterns of physical activity which are essential for healthy development and lay the foundations for active lifestyles.

It also allows kids to develop wider circles of friends and environments.

Harris cites growing concerns about children’s health (e.g. over 75% of children do not meet physical activity for health guidelines; 20% of children experience mental health problems; and 1 in 5 secondary age children are obese).

Reared on 100% junk

Kids are getting fatter – no debate needed.

Making physical education a core subject…would stimulate significant health and educational attainment benefits, lead to improved physical, mental and personal well-being of children, develop essential life skills and contribute to whole school improvements.

High quality physical education in schools can also reduce the health burden of physical inactivity and contribute to the economic prosperity of the country.

The burden on the NHS of obesity related conditions is unacceptable. As argued here ad infinitum and confirmed by the All-Party report we have endured almost 40 years of a decline in PE.

But with wholesale disposals of recreational facilities in the state sector reversing this is a massive task.

All-Party Extracts

Whilst a comprehensive overview of past, present and future here are a few key elements.

Brian Glover in Kes…”I’m bloody Booby Charlton!”

When John Major became Prime Minister in 1990, his enthusiasm for school sport saw fresh calls for the ‘restoration’ of competitive games to the school curriculum; however a potential ‘new dawn’ was blighted by the conflict over teachers’ contracts, which were based upon fixed working hours.

The outcome was a huge reduction in extra-curricular state sector provision resulting in both competitive and recreational sport disappearing entirely in many schools and the sale of redundant playing fields.

…independent schools were unaffected by the turmoil: Physical Education provision remained strong and much good practice diffused from innovative teachers and ambitious heads’ associations.

So a two-tier system that massively impacts the vast majority of kids in a negative fashion has been in place for at least three decades.

Infact the report pinpoints the beginnings of the decline to the mid 1970s with this extract from the 1975 White Paper: Sport and Education.

“If PE teachers have thought they had a fundamental part to play in the education of every child, that they provided an essential basis on which active life for work and leisure could be built for everyone, then, clearly, they have to think again.”

Wellington Middle School Cricket Team…from a bygone age.

Into my secondary years at this point, whilst facilities were not great, my generation could not have imagined what was to follow. However, we all knew this bit.

Whilst private schools offer their pupils a vastly superior range of facilities and opportunities for Physical Education, the majority of children…are not so fortunate.

The elite are protected whilst the old mantra Sport For All looks a sickly child.

Bradford Grammar School

All primary schools should have a dedicated PE and Sports subject leader who takes responsibility for ensuring high quality teaching and learning provision.

The reality is that state schools have used floods of Government money over the years to out-source PE and we all know how that ends.

…initial teacher training programmes and continual professional development programmes have very limited Physical Education content so that the general teacher may lack confidence.

This has lead to a frequent outsourcing of primary school programmes and the introduction of..barely qualified sports coaches…unsupervised and unevaluated.

As one of these coaches believe me without us it would be dire although I have seen several examples of piss-poor practice.

In this section of the report the word pedagogy keeps cropping up so being a thick lad I looked it up and discovered it means the methods and principles of teaching.

In short it is the education establishment saying we know best, even if we don’t want to go outside to get cold and wet trying to control thirty sugar-loaded kids.

From Major to Blair to Cameron to May, Governments have poured billions down the drain with no coherent strategy often guided by a variety of nanny-state quangos.

The sugar tax is estimated to be worth £320m a year but there is no evidence it will be spent any differently and with sport low on the agenda when OFSTED come a calling what incentive is there for a school?

You can write as many weighty reports as you like but you do not need a PHd to note that the system is broken and our kids have been failed.

Even if there was the genuine political will to change it would take generations. Politicians are not known for the long game and just where will our active kids play?

Moan all you like about obesity but it will only get worse.

Comedy Section

The local rag made the shock announcement this week that my home town is among the worst places to learn to drive…research has found that Bradford has just a 42.9 per cent pass rate on the theory test, making it the worst in the country.

And more stunning revelations followed. The Government says questions on road and traffic signs, safety margins and rules of the road are the most incorrectly answered. You don’t say!

Scouring the readers’ comments I knew I would find incisive insight; here are a few of the more “balanced” opinions.

We have Councillors in Bradford who cannot even read a simple tax bill. What hope of passing difficult tests. Fair point.

Well that is news that there is people taking the test to get 42.9% rate. I thought you didn’t need a driving license… Reasons to be cheerful then?

If the testing was more relevant, such as handbrake turns, driving on the wrong side of the road, parking in the road with flashers on, passing queues and then pushing in along with drug handing off at low speeds and the best ways to run off after an incident maybe there might be more passing. Innovative?

One Hundred Years Ago

A joint for Easter?

Some good results are expected from the initiative of the Eccleshill CC in the direction of bringing out young talent.G E Wakerley of Sherwood, the new groundsman and coach, will be on the ground in the day time, while J W Hitch, the Surrey cricketer, will be at the nets in the evening.The scheme for encouraging cubs is developing and there is to be a prize of 10s 6d for the first youth who is played in the first team and makes ten runs.

And it’s that time of the year again

Happy Easter.

Get My Blog Posts Straight To Your Inbox

  • Grass roots sport.
  • My weekly thoughts on the topics in the news.
  • My take on various aspects of life.

What are you waiting for?

About Steve

Follow me @idlelord, and make sure you get a copy of A Critic's Corner on Kindle.

Speak Your Mind