A group chaired by Paralympic gold medallist Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson has called for PE to be given the same status as core subjects in Wales in order to help tackle obesity. This would see it given the same amount of attention in Welsh schools as maths, English, science and Welsh, and would be the first country in the world to take such measures.
The Welsh government have not dismissed the suggestion and have agreed to consider the idea, with Education Minister Leighton Andrews looking to increase the levels of physical activity in schools. However, some unions have claimed having too many core subject would dilute their importance.
Obesity and weight issues cost the Welsh NHS over £70m a year with more than one third of people either overweight or obese.
Chair of Sports Wales Laura McAllister said: “Given the Welsh government’s commitment to making physical literacy as important a development skill as reading and writing, the group felt that changing the status of physical education is the only credible and secure way of ensuring this.”
Nothing is set in stone, but just having these conversations is encouraging, although whether such plans would be considered throughout the rest of the UK is unclear. In the meantime, however, there are other things that can be done by schools to increase physical activity.
Schools can run extra-curricular sports clubs after school as long as there is enough teachers to run the clubs, although there are some companies who can come into schools and run the clubs on the school’s behalf. Schools can also install outdoor play equipment, which can provide an interesting and stimulating environment for the children, particularly those of a younger age. There’s now a huge variety of outdoor play equipment for schools, so it’s not difficult to find exciting playground equipment that will get the children active, both mentally and physically.
PE unfortunately still seems to take a backseat to other subjects, so it’s down to individual schools, teachers and parents to try and do what they can to get children taking part in some form of exercise a few times a week.