Education & Family

Funding boost for primary school PE

PE lesson Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption A pilot training programme for primary PE specialists was launched last year

Extra funding is to be made available to double the number of physical education (PE) specialists working in primary schools in England.

The Department for Education (DfE) said specialist staff were vital to ensure children developed "a sporting habit for life".

Funding worth £360,000 would be put towards training primary teachers with a specialism in PE, the DfE said.

It is hoped 240 primary PE specialists will take up posts by September 2015.

A pilot training programme was launched last year, with the first cohort of 120 PE specialists due to be working in primary schools from this autumn.

Children's minister Edward Timpson said: "PE teaching is a specialist role and deserves bespoke support. PE specialists are vital to really embedding sporting expertise in schools, as well as giving children every chance of developing a sporting habit for life.

"That's why we've announced extra funding to create a second intake of specialist primary PE teachers to support other teachers in developing their skills and improve quality of PE teaching.

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption The government wants PE specialists to share their "love of sport"

"The pilot has already attracted high-calibre graduates who want to share their love of sport. We must harness this and ensure more schools across the country can benefit from their expertise."

2:1 degree

Trainee teachers on the programme study PE and sport for 50% of their overall course, as well as training in the other core subjects.

About three-quarters of the trainees currently taking part in the pilot scheme had a sports-related degree, the DfE said, and many graduated with a 2:1 or higher.

The vast majority of the trainees had already accepted job offers for this autumn, the department added.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers said: "We welcome this new funding for primary sports specialists.

"Properly deployed they can raise the skill and confidence of all staff in teaching PE. They can broaden the range of sport and exercise on offer and help nurture a new generation of athletes.

"It is vital that we maintain a broad and balanced curriculum as start children on healthy habits early. Teachers in primary schools have to be 'masters of all trades' but specialist support can back them up."

Competition

The DfE announcement follows a warning from the schools watchdog, Ofsted, that too many pupils are being denied the chance to take part in competitive sport in state schools, where it can be treated as an "optional extra".

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Inspectors have called for more competition in state school sport

In a report, Ofsted said children's education was poorer if they were deprived of the chance to compete.

The report also highlighted concerns that top athletes in some sports were still more likely to come from fee-paying schools rather than the state sector.

The report - Going the extra mile: Excellence in competitive school sport - was commissioned after the 2012 Olympic games in London to explore why so many Team GB athletes had been educated in private rather than state schools.

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