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Report advocates making PE a core subject in Welsh curriculum

28/06/2013 Joanna
A new report has called for PE to be made a far more integral part of education in Wales, which would also require staff in teacher jobs to specialise more in this subject.

The current core subjects in the Welsh curriculum are English, Welsh, maths and science, with PE instead holding the status of foundation subject.

However, an independent group chaired by former Paralympian Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and also featuring Sports Wales chair Laura McAllister, has now called for PE to be upgraded to core subject status in Welsh schools.

Its report, which Welsh government ministers have said they will consider, says this greater focus on PE could help to tackle obesity in the country.

At present, more than a third of children and young people in Wales are obese, costing the Welsh NHS over £70 million per year.

If PE were made a core subject, more time would have to be dedicated to teaching it, standards in PE lessons would be rigorously reviewed and progress regularly assessed.

Moreover, primary and secondary teachers would need to be competent in teaching the subject upon completing initial teacher training, while schools would also have to enhance provision by recruiting highly qualified staff to specialised PE teacher jobs.

The group's report stated: "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."

However, Association of Teachers and Lecturers Cymru director Dr Philip Dixon told BBC News that while the Welsh government may decide to upgrade PE's status, the core of the curriculum needs to be kept small or else it will cease to be a core at all.

This sentiment was echoed by Owen Hathway, Wales policy officer at the National Union of Teachers, who warned that "by the nature of the word, not everything can be a priority".

Baroness Grey-Thompson recently told the House of Commons Education Committee that sport was not taken sufficiently seriously in the UK, given that it could help to reduce obesity levels and expenditure on welfare.

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