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Sport, not fitness tests

17th March 2010

Writing in The Telegraph, Rowan Pelling says that school children need the opportunity to play more sport, not be subject to fitness tests.

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When my son started the local state primary school, I assumed he would be playing a decent amount of sport on a weekly basis.

When I went to school in the 1970s and 1980s, I am my siblings would play rounders and cricket in the summer and football and netball in the winter. In addition, we had gym sessions, went swimming every week and took part in an annual sports day.

I am not particularly sporty but would have been the size of Hattie Jacques if these activities were not enforced.

I was startled to discover my son’s activities are two hour-long PE sessions a week. If he wants to play football or team sports, he has to pay to join an after school club. That means he actually does very little sport.

But the government’s response is to introduce annual fitness tests, following on from a policy of weighing children.

“Since when was it the government’s job, rather than the school bully’s, to tell you your child was a tub of lard?”

One of the points of school is that pupils get the chance to do things they would not otherwise do. Many are often grateful, later in life, for such opportunities.

Even a left-footed wimp like me recognises that learning to bash a ball around with other pupils is as useful a form of social cohesion as any we know.

 

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