PE projects produce positive results

Initiatives introduced to meet the Scottish Government’s commitment to provide two hours or two periods of physical education in schools has had a positive impact on the number of children and young people taking part each week.

An evaluation of the initiatives developed by sportscotland and Education Scotland has found that the number of primary and secondary schools meeting the two hour or two period target for PE has increased from 89 per cent in 2013, to 96 per cent in 2014.

As a result of the initiatives and support provided to school staff and local authorities, 70 per cent reported that there had been a positive impact on their school. This support helped schools provide quality PE for each pupil every week, while also getting children and young people more involved and excited about PE.

The professional development opportunities offered to practitioners helped build knowledge and confidence amongst school staff to teach PE, with many reporting it had a positive impact on their approach to PE.

While all the initiatives have made a positive contribution, lead staff in local authorities promoting PE and a programme supporting approaches to help children and practitioners think more about movement were identified as having a particularly notable impact. These have made a significant difference to practitioners’ learning and teaching approaches and the opportunities available for children and young people to experience quality physical education.

Dr Alasdair Allan, Minister for Learning, Sciences and Scotland’s Languages, said: “Making sure every child has access to quality PE has been a priority of ours and we are now truly beginning to see the positive impact this can have. We have invested nearly £6million over the past 2 years through sportscotland and Education Scotland and we are doing the same up to June 2016.

“This research shows the excellent progress that is being made. In 2004/05 only 10 per cent of schools were meeting the recommended target of two hours, or two periods, of PE each week. As of last year we were at an outstanding 96 per cent. We are determined to ensure that every child receives their entitlement and we look forward to this contributing to better outcomes for all our children and young people.”

Graeme Logan, Strategic Director for School Years at Education Scotland, said: “These findings demonstrate the effectiveness of the partnership work between ourselves, sportscotland and the Scottish Government. This work has led to a significant shift in how PE is being provided in schools across Scotland, with more now meeting the national target of two hours or two periods of physical education each week.

“We’re pleased that practitioners and local authorities are seeing the benefits of this support in their classrooms and the positive impact the initiatives have had to improve PE in schools.

“Whilst these findings are positive we have some challenges ahead. We will continue to work with sportscotland to ensure all practitioners are aware of their responsibilities when it comes to physical education. We also want to see more parental involvement, as there is great potential to make a significant impact on children and young people’s physical education with their involvement and help to promote activity.”

A range of national initiatives were introduced including a network of lead staff in local authorities promoting PE funded by sportscotland whose role included supporting staff in schools to improve the learning experiences in PE.

Education Scotland provided a range of professional learning opportunities for practitioners, including a programme supporting approaches to help children and practitioners think more about movement. This innovative and inclusive programme for PE focused on developing the links between movement and thinking. Mentoring within the programme helped staff explore different approaches to the subject.

In addition, Education Scotland provided £3000 Grants for schools and clusters to improve the quality of learning experiences. A Dance / Gymnastics Development Officer was appointed to provide a range of training opportunities to build the capacity and confidence in practitioners to plan and facilitate learning in dance and gymnastics. Scottish Disability Sports inclusive PE programme supported practitioners to fully include children with additional support needs in PE, promoting improved learning experiences, better outcomes and opportunities for learners.

The Robert Owen Centre at the University of Glasgow was commissioned by Education Scotland in 2014 to evaluate the national initiatives supporting schools and local authorities to meet the two hour or two period target for PE.