Critical Issue In Physical Education

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The purpose of this essay is to explore the issues surrounding Physical Education (PE) in the UK and how the National Curriculum of Physical Education (NCPE) is tackling these issues. There has not been a focus on PE as it is not one of the core subjects included within the education curriculum. In the past, PE was only used in schools to ensure pupils are staying active and attaining 60 minutes of exercise per day. An implementation of the benefits taking part in physical activity and how it can impact a sedentary lifestyle was never mentioned in schools. They would learn basic skills such as learning how to throw and catch a ball as well as learning how run, jump and coordination skills. The NCPE in the UK intend to ensure that children from a young age engage in physical activity and lead active healthy lifestyles. Generally, there have been many concerns as to why PE has been an issue in both primary and secondary schools. There has been a lack of quality teaching within lessons as teachers have not been given the correct coaching in order to deliver good quality PE lessons. A lack of confidence in teachers delivering lessons has also been a reason, because they have educated to carry out games- based activities. Whether that be a football or basketball, they would split the class into teams and just let them play the game. In essence, it gives the pupils a chance to become independent in a sport which they are good at, showing leadership and communication skills but it is also very limited. They are not being taught how to warm up and cool-down correctly and the reasoning behind why they are necessary. The National Curriculum of Physical Education has changed and has ensured that pupils are receiving good quality PE lessons from Key stage 1 to key stage 4. The aim of this essay is to determine the future of PE and what literature states behind the issue.

Main Body

The future of Physical Education within schools has also casted a shadow of doubt due to many issues. Physical education in previous years was used as a way for a child to learn fundamental movement skills along with being able to partake in team games. Children are only taught these basic skills in their lessons and there is not a lot of progression. The NCPE have developed a curriculum to ensure from key stage one to four, they are able to develop competence within activities. At key stage one, they are taught to master skills such as jumping, running, throwing and catching skills which are then implement into team games. Physical literacy at this stage is where it is being developed, the fun and enjoyment in their team games. The fun and enjoyment are only one part of physical literacy. Motivation, confidence and physical competence develop within the later key stages. The NCPE curriculum also links in with another initiative, which the government have implemented known as the “School Sport and Activity Action Plan”. “Physical literacy can be described as a disposition to capitalize on our human embodied capability, wherein the individual has: the motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge and understanding to value and take responsibility for maintaining purposeful physical pursuits/activities throughout the life-course.” The priorities within the Physical Education curriculum need to be changed from the traditional ways which include teaching a minute number of skills to a competitive game, to the social and development of the pupil.

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The traditional way of looking at sport was often associated with competition rather than the social development of an individual. Physical literacy should be implemented to assist in the social and personal development of the individual. It reiterates the traditional meaning of sport whereby there’s always a competitive nature behind it, it is about their development as a human. The government hold a great influence in regard to delivering physical activity in schools. Setting guidelines such as exercising for 60 minutes a day and should minimise the amount of time spent sedentary (National curriculum in England: physical education programmes of study, 2020).The way this impacts physical activity in schools is the delivery of lessons, by ensuring that pupils are receiving lessons for this period of time.

In 2012, the government funded Physical Education within Primary schools for a region of £450 million to ensure high quality PE lessons were delivered in Primary Schools along with support in teaching. The funding given to schools by the Government ensured that pupils were able to take part in extra- curricular activities, whereby they were able to develop their social skills and build their confidence.

Previous research has stated that pupils taking part in extra- curricular activities has been dependent on the school they attend along with the area they reside in, also their socio- economic background. (GOVUK2019). The Future of Physical Education within schools has been in doubt due to the Global Pandemic of Covid- 19. The first lockdown which caused all schools, colleges and universities resulted in pupils not being able to take part in physical activity along with extra- curricular activities. As pupils were limited in the amount of physical activity, they were able to perform during lockdown, the wellbeing of pupils was in doubt. Physical education without a doubt has many physical benefits upon a pupils’ health, however it also has benefits on their mental and social health. To support this, a study showed that in an average classroom (Mental health statistics, 2020), at least ten children will have witnessed their mother and father separate. Eight of those children will have experienced a severe level of physical abuse, sexual abuse or neglect. Also, one of those children will have experienced the death of one of their parents. Mental health is vital to a pupil’s mental development and physical activity carry’s many benefits. It has been shown to improve the pupil’s mood by creating positive emotions increasing alertness and interest in the activity.

During Lockdown pupils needed to remain active to focus on their mental and physical wellbeing, a fitness coach by the name of Joe Wicks introduced home workouts for kids to ensure they are keeping active. He ensured that families were able to partake in workouts on a daily basis Monday to Friday at 9am. He stated that during this global pandemic, it was more important than ever that we kept moving and stayed healthy and positive.


The future of Physical education in schools is still an underlying issue and the NCPE must ensure changes are made in order, to have a positive impact on a pupils social and mental development. Traditional ways of delivering PE lessons must be changed as were living in times where mental health is vital. The government must ensure that the pupils in schools are receiving good, quality PE lessons and the NCPE should make these clear within their aims. For this to occur, I believe that teachers must receive training in order to be able to deliver good quality PE lessons as well as making PE a core subject. PE lessons should be carried out for longer than two hours per week and extra -curricular activities should be implemented too. This is to ensure that pupils are actively engaging in physical activity outside of school and not just in school. The NCPE should ensure that they are assisting the school in creating links with the community to ensure pupils are able to take part in extracurricular activities. Overall, the future of PE is still an underlying issue and changes must be made in delivering PE lessons to pupils.    


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