The Case for Physical Education becoming a Core Subject in the National Curriculum

 In Blog

At Fitness In.. we do Health & Wellbeing, not just PE.  We believe that the physical and mental wellbeing of a child should be central to their experience at school.  In a recent paper by Dr. Jo Harris of Loughborough University, she sets out the case for physical Education to be a core subject in the National Curriculum.  The paper gives nine key reasons to support that view and calls for specialist teachers to deliver the lessons.  Those reasons are:

  • is already the only foundation subject which is statutory at all four key stages so regularly reaches every child in every school
  • is the only subject which explicitly addresses the ‘physical development’ dimension of the aims of education and helps to remedy the current imbalance in the curriculum
  • provides a range of physical, social and psychological health benefits helps to address serious and growing childhood health conditions such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and poor mental health
  • is the foundation for active lifestyles, sport and recreation and provides a key stepping stone into community sport and lifelong activity
  • directly contributes to the physical activity for health recommendation of at least one hour a day for school-aged children
  • establishes a health habit in childhood to be continued through adulthood
  • helps develops the whole young person and prepares young people for the future
  • contributes to the future health and economic prosperity of the nation.

Our team of specialists agree with these principles and are pleased to be engaged in long term relationships with a number of schools.  Our Health & Wellbeing lessons are all delivered by qualified staff who seek to promote our core principles of physical literacy, community & respect and an understanding of Health & Wellbeing and its impact on the body and mind of a child.

The full report can be read here: but we have reproduced Dr. Harris’s Executive summery below.

The Case for Physical Education becoming a Core Subject in the National Curriculum

Dr Jo Harris, Loughborough University
on behalf of the Physical Education Expert Group
Executive Summary

Physical education should be a core subject within the National Curriculum because it is the only subject whose primary focus is on the body and, in this respect, it uniquely addresses the physical development aim of the curriculum and it also makes a significant contribution to the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of children.  In addition, it develops an interest in and patterns of physical activity which are essential for healthy development and lay the foundations for active lifestyles.  This is increasingly important given growing concerns about children’s health (e.g. over 75% of children do not meet physical activity for health guidelines; 20% of children experience mental health problems; and 1 in 5 secondary age children are obese).  Furthermore, there are current concerns about physical education in schools with inadequate attention paid to the subject in primary initial teacher training meaning that qualified teachers often lack the confidence and competence to teach physical education well.  In addition, the well intentioned Physical Education and Sport Premium has unfortunately led to the unintended consequence of physical education in some primary schools being virtually handed over to sports coaches and instructors who generally lack the pedagogical skills to meet the needs of all children and who deliver a narrow physical education experience.  There are also concerns about physical education in secondary schools where curriculum time is being reduced.  Making physical education a core subject in the National Curriculum would stimulate significant health and educational attainment benefits, lead to improved physical, mental and personal well-being of children, develop essential life skills and contribute to whole school improvements.  It would also ensure that physical competence is valued as much as reading, writing and arithmetic, and that well qualified specialist teachers are employed to teach physical education in primary and secondary schools.  High quality physical education in schools can also reduce the health burden of physical inactivity and contribute to the economic prosperity of the country.  Elevating physical education to core subject status would build on the 2012 legacy in a sustainable way by potentially reaching all children in the country and it would demonstrate a genuine commitment by Government to addressing significant, systemic health issues amongst children