DfE launches consultation on content of reformed PE qualifications

File image of girls and boys playing football at school

The Department for Education has launched a consultation on the subject content of the reformed physical education (PE) GCSE, AS and A-levels.

Members of the public can complete an online survey that will allow them to propose any new activities that they believe should be included as part of the qualifications.

The activity lists at both GCSE and A-level already offer a wide range of sports, such as badminton, cricket, hockey, rugby, netball, tennis and skiing, but further suggestions are invited between  now and December 20.

It comes as part of a government drive to engage more young people in PE.

Earlier this month education secretary Damian Hinds set out proposals for a new “school sport action plan”, which will aim to increase opportunities for pupils to play more sports and train more teachers to lead and coach those activities in schools.

The move was announced ahead of Hinds’s speech to the Conservative Party conference. Several national sports organisations, including the Premier League, the FA, England Netball and the RFU, will contribute to the plan, which will be published next spring.

Following the annoucement, school sport experts called on the government to instead concentrate on implementing its current strategies to boost school sport and tackle childhood obesity.

They claimed that the PE and sport premium funding – introduced in 2013 as part of the London 2012 Olympic legacy – is being misused. This year the government doubled the amount it gives to primary schools each year to £320 million, with schools receiving up to £27,510 each.

Schools are expected to use ring-fenced cash to make “additional and sustainable” improvements to the quality of PE and sport, but an analysis of 86 primary schools in the London borough of Croydon, seen by Schools Week, found a quarter had no evidence for how the funding was spent last year.

School leaders are expected to publish details online of how the money is spent and the information is checked by Ofsted during inspections.

In August, the government released statistics showing a decline in participation in competitive sports among the youngest school pupils, despite PE remaining a compulsory part of the national curriculum.

A survey by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport found only 55.6 per cent of five to ten-year-olds took part in organised sport competitions at school last summer, down from 62.4 per cent in 2016.

The government previously proposed a ‘healthy schools’ rating scheme for primaries in its child obesity action plan in 2016, which would be taken into account by Ofsted as an incentive to boost fitness and wellbeing. Influential television chef Jamie Oliver weighed in on the issue last October, saying the scheme should be made compulsory for all schools.

But the programme, which was supposed to be up and running by September 2017, has still not materialised, and ministers have said delivery models are still being tested.

In July this year Paul Evans, vice chair of the British Obesity Society and the managing director of education consultancy School Health UK, said the scheme “doesn’t seem like it’s going to go anywhere” and is “just not a priority” for the government.

The second part of the childhood obesity action plan was revealed in June, and claimed the government will work across departments “to review how the least active children are being engaged in physical activity in and around the school day”, and “consider how the primary PE and sport premium is being used”.

Ministers also pledged to “invest over £1.6 million during 2018-19 to support cycling and walking to school”.

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