Get On Board the ‘More PE & School’ Sport Bandwagon

Posted by: Joyce Matthews   |   No Comments   |  Posted on: Aug 10, 2012

Are you old enough to remember the Double Decker’s song?
“Get on board, get on board, come and join the Double Deckers”.
This was the theme tune to a children’s show which was around in the 70s, and I find myself singing it a lot at the moment – every time I see another Tweet or TV news article or hear a radio interview about increasing the amount of PE and sport in our schools.
Everybody seems to be ‘on board’ the bandwagon – Boris Johnson, Kelly Holmes,  Stephen Twigg, Tessa Jowell , the more the merrier – jump aboard. Let’s make sure there is a sporting legacy for our young people after the Olympics by making schools deliver more sport – we need more sport in schools, more sport for our children, and teachers to deliver more physical education. Or do we?
Team GB seems to have done pretty well so far in the Olympic medal tally, so whatever we have been doing is working. Will we ever beat those countries like USA and China who have a massive pool of talent to draw from? Unlikely, so third in the medal table is a great position to be in for our home Olympics, isn’t it?
So why is everyone shouting for more PE and sport in schools?
As the late, great Stephen Covey said, ‘start with the end in mind’.
So what’s the purpose of shouting for more PE and school sport – what do we want, where are we going with this demand?
Is it for more Olympic medals in the future, is it for health benefits for our society, is it to engender a love of physical activity and exercise for future generations, is it to reduce obesity, is it to be inclusive or competitive? Or is it simply a propaganda exercise by the politicians to score cheap and easy points off the back of the Olympic bandwagon?
And once we’ve answered the ‘what’ and ‘where’ questions, let’s think about the ‘how’. How can we do it? How will we get there? Is it through more PE or school sport or both? Because PE and school sport are not the same.
Physical Education is exactly as it says on the tin – education through the physical, which takes place in curriculum time in schools. While school sport is sport for school age children which often takes place outside of curriculum time or in clubs after school. PE is usually delivered by teachers, and school sport is delivered by a mixture of teachers and specialist coaches.
And once we know what we want, and where we’re going, can we figure out how to get there?
So which way could we go? What routes can we take to ensure that we get to the right place? So that those who want to go on to be future Olympians can? Or those who want to enjoy sport for fitness, fun or social benefits can? And how much of each – how much PE and how much sport? And who delivers what and when? PE in curriculum time and sport after school? Or do we look at the private school model and have sport in school time with ‘games afternoons’? Teachers or coaches? How do we facilitate the right avenues of opportunity? How can we create pathways that will allow young people to develop a love of activity, movement and sport, and also enable them to pursue their sport of choice at good clubs with excellent coaches?
If we know the destination, can we work backwards to decide possible routes to get there? And a bit like the London Underground, is there more than one route to the final destination?
I can’t remember if the Double Deckers ever went anywhere in that bus. So they probably never asked ‘where are we going’? But more importantly they never had to plan how to get that bus there.
So before I jump aboard I want to ask – where are we going with PE and school sport post Olympics? And how are we going to get there? What will the journey be like?
What about you? Do you want to know or have you jumped aboard the “more PE and school sport bandwagon” already?

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