Originally published May 14, 2019 in The Telegraph.
By Jeremy Wilson
Physical education and activity is expected to get an enhanced focus in schools from September following the publication today of a new framework by school inspectors Ofsted.
A greater emphasis on a broad and balanced curriculum, as well as the quality of personal development rather than just exam outcomes, has been interpreted as an acknowledgment of the importance and benefits of sport and activity.
Ofsted has also said that its new inspections would assess how well schools teach pupils “about keeping healthy, maintaining an active lifestyle, as well as giving them plenty of opportunities to be active during the school day and through extra-curricular activities”.
It all follows The Telegraph’s ‘Girls, Inspired’ campaign, which calls on the government to support schools in a series of key aims that are designed to empower girls and increase participation.
The specific aims are to enshrine equality of opportunity to sport in the government’s forthcoming School Sport Action Plan; to issue new guidelines, enforced by Ofsted, that put the benefits of physical education on a par with core subjects and for schools to empower girls by offering wider choice through ‘Girls Active’ and ‘This Girl Can’ schemes.
“Ofsted’s new framework offers some encouraging signs that the important role of physical education in schools will be given greater recognition,” said Stuart Kay, the Youth Sport Trust Schools’ director.
“We know that, in recent years, PE has been a victim of inspections placing too much weight on exam results. Our own research found that almost two-in-five secondary schools have cut time for PE since 2012. This new framework makes explicit that inspectors will be looking to see students taught the full curriculum.
“As a charity which has campaigned against students being taken out of curriculum PE to make time for other subjects, we’re encouraged by the clear message this sends.”
Ofsted did not go into specifics about PE but headteachers will be given an opportunity to influence those subjects that are inspected, raising hope that good practice will be more valued.
“It will be more important than ever that schools are able to articulate the position of PE and sport in their curriculum and their intended impact on pupils,” said Kay. “We would urge schools to use this opportunity to re-evaluate the wider outcomes PE should be delivering for every pupil, with a focus on wider wellbeing outcomes and character development.”