The i reports today that PE lessons at one of the UK’s top private school are being replaced by wellbeing classes. Leaving aside our views on whether or not private schools help or hinder equality or overall educational attainment, is traditional PE the best way to promote overall health and fitness?
From childhood I preferred co-operation to competition, and as a result I hated PE as a child. Lots of us did. As an adult, I keep pretty fit; I love walking and cycling and in recent years have taken up swimming, running and the gym. As a primary school teacher who loved exercise but hated sport, I tended to focus on lessons which all the children could engage with, rather than the sports focus which excludes up to half the class and actually puts them off exercise.
So I applaud what Wellington School are doing as long as exercise is built into the wellbeing programme. We should be educating our children for real life. Some sport is fine – it’s a useful way to learn teamwork and resilience – but it should be more varied than either what I experienced or was encouraged to teach. The sport must also be outweighed by the exercise for fun, and wellbeing element. If pupils want to extend their sports skills, they can do it after school. Good for Wellington – now for state schools.