In reality PE is so much more than sport and is a great way of helping to develop the whole child.
PE has the ability (if taught well) to build up a child’s self esteem, confidence, motivation, teamwork, fair play, independence, leadership and maybe even their ability to play sport. I am currently working with a team (PESS) looking at how PE can also support literacy and numeracy.
The new way of looking at PE is through Physical Literacy. This term encompasses the variety of skills and qualities that can be developed through high quality PE, not just playing sport and certainly not by restricting students to doing things that have always been done.
We are looking at developing practice of teachers at all key stages to help develop a curriculum that engages all students and ensures students take responsibility and ownership of their activities and being creative. This is important as the academic world is quickly being replaced by the creative intellects (though Gove may disagree).
In looking at literacy and numeracy through PE it is important to note that PE is not being used to teach maths and english. PE is an important part of any child’s education. It contributes towards a healthy lifestyle. It can however be a place where students can apply the skills of numeracy and literacy and to see the relevance of why they are learning it.
In mapping the numeracy skills it is clear to see that in lots of physical activity you are using math skills. For instance most sports collect a huge amount of statistics, analyse them, interpret them and use them to revise performance. This is just one area where the numeracy skills learnt will actually develop the skills in PE. In literacy the same applies. The ability to communicate clearly can make the difference between giving feedback that has no impact and feedback that really changes the performance or confidence of an individual.
In conclusion I urge all teachers, both those that teach PE and those that don’t, to see PE for what it truly is. Many have had a bad experience of the sport being the main thing and if you were not good you were an outcast. This is not the case anymore and it is essential that PE remains a key part of a child’s education.
(the same can be said of lots of other subjects that allow creativity and education needs to be all encompassing to give students the ability to engage in things that appeal to them. More maths and english in my opinion is not the answer.)