Few, if any people will have complete physical, mental and social wellbeing all the time. Trevor Smith, senior member of the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity, will join us every week to talk about health and wellbeing

Here we are, Friday again; I hope you have all had a healthy and happy week. Last week I introduced you to my daughter Sophie but more than that, it was a brief look at the start of a child’s journey to being physically active. This week, primary schools across the county have welcomed pupils back for a new academic year and many changes have been put in place for their safety. Apart from these necessary amendments that Covid-19 has brought us, within Physical Education in schools relatively little has changed over the years. No matter how old you are, you will generally remember playing netball, basketball, athletics, hockey and football? Is it still the same in your child’s school today?

Since Physical Education in primary schools is not a core subject, teachers are given relatively little training or guidance on the subject unless they choose to be PE specialist teachers. To give an example, my wife Carolyn is a fully qualified primary school teacher but received only eight hours of training on PE throughout her entire four years of teacher training.

Did you know the national curriculum guidance for key stages 1 & 2 teachers for the subject of PE is less than 500 words? Now compare that to the English curriculum which is 88 pages. It is unfair that this pressure is placed on primary school teachers who are expected to teach their class PE lessons every week.

The Northern Echo:

Keeping active is good for the body and mind

Prior to Covid, we were working with schools across the county supporting them to get their children active. In some of these schools we specifically worked with the less active and disengaged children by encouraging them to try new activities that they had not experienced before. It was not about being the best or having great skill, it was about having fun and allowing all children the chance to succeed. It was great to work with these children to see them develop confidence over time and thrive in the positive environment.

If a child was considered to be struggling in their English or Maths lessons, they would quite rightly be given additional support in some form. However, what happens to a child that is struggling in PE?

It is my mission to provide schools with support wherever possible, so these children do not get left behind. I want to break the current cycle of sedentary lifestyle. If I can inspire the inactive and disengaged children to enjoy participating in activities and therefore become motivated to do more, then the chances are they will become active adults. Consequently, a new cycle will begin because once they become active adults, they become healthy role models for their own children, who lead healthy, active lifestyles themselves.

My wife’s experience is the perfect example of the child who got left behind in PE. She was never really able to catch or throw a ball but was given little technical input in order to improve. She was not a fast runner (as an asthmatic she did not have the stamina). As time passed, she began to dislike the PE lessons because she felt she always let the team down or she always came last in the race. The other children in her class teased her because of her ineptitude at sport. Carolyn was very academic and put all her efforts into her studies and schoolwork. It was more than a disappointment for her when the reward day for all her hard work, was a special game of rounders or a day at an adventure park. This has had a knock-on effect throughout her life, even until recently she was reluctant to try new activities for fear of not being able to do it. It was only when she found a dance class with a teacher who understood her fears, that this began to change and now she has more confidence and is beginning to get out there and have a go. It is a shame that there were so many lost years and we hope that Sophie’s experience is a better one.

This week’s challenge

Try something new, introduce an activity to the family that you have not experienced before. Be creative, this really could be fun! Share your pictures on Twitter @TheNorthernEcho and @TSmith_PE

If you would like to ask a question or if you are worried about your child being left behind in PE, you can contact me at: tsmith@premier-education.com

Trevor Smith works at Premier Education supporting primary schools to improve children’s health and wellbeing through active learning.