22 Jul 2006

Research published today by the Sports Council for Wales reveals that schools in Wales are now allocating more time to physical education – but there is still a long way to go before all pupils have the opportunity to participate in two hours per week.

The Sports Council for Wales commissioned a study into physical education and sports provision in primary and secondary schools across Wales for 2002-3.

Chief Executive Dr Huw Jones says that the time increase is promising:

"Our surveys found that the amount of time available for curricular PE has increased since the 2000/01 survey. However, there is still a long way to go before all schools and all year groups have the opportunity to participate in two hours of curricular PE a week."

In primary schools, years 3 to 6 receive an average of just over an hour and a half curricular minutes per week for physical education.

While in secondary schools, an average of two hours of curricular time is available across the year groups. However, there is a substantial drop in PE time for years 10 and 11, compared with that set aside for Years 7-9.

Statistics show encouraging growth in the number of pupils taking up extra-curricular opportunities. An impressive 90% of schools in 2002-3 offered extra curricular PE to key stage 2 pupils.

73% of primary schools participated in Dragon Sport – Wales’ biggest campaign to get children hooked on out-of-school-hours-sport - compared with 30% in 2000/01.

Last year, 73,000 children across Wales took part in Dragon Sport, which is funded by the National Lottery.

"The results suggest that Dragon Sport has made a very significant contribution towards physical activity in primary schools. Not only has this encouraged schools to increasing PE time allocation but it has also helped schools to offer a wider range of activities.

"Programmes such as Dragon Sport have exceeded targets and helped to shift attitudes. Physical education, for a long time, has been the Cinderella subject of the curriculum. That is beginning to change - I think this is coming about because physical activity is enjoying a higher profile.

"Obesity and inactivity is one the most pressing health issues facing us today. The Welsh Assembly has taken a proactive stance and has adopted health and fitness as a key focus. The Sports Minister’s Climbing Higher strategy and the recently launched Health Challenge Wales are both helping to direct future policies."

The Sports Council for Wales also found encouraging signs that past inequalities in secondary school PE provision are being addressed.

The Sports Council’s Girls First scheme – which provides up to £1,000 to schools to implement innovative ideas to get girls into sport – is playing a role in this development.

Extracurricular activity – particularly football, rugby and aerobics – is on the increase for girls. Furthermore, a wider range of sports are being made available compared with previous survey findings.