Equality and choice in PE – turning ambitions and aims into a deliverable solution
Both the success of the Lionesses in the Women’s EURO 2022, and fierce lobbying by The Youth Sports Trust calling for a rethink in how PE is taught in schools, have stirred up much debate.
Schools no doubt want to offer both genders equal access to a highly diverse range of physical activities, including riding the strong wave of new interest in girl’s football.
The problem is, how do they achieve that? Are there practical obstacles that outsourcing sports provision can overcome?
This article explores how schools can nurture and stimulate engagement in PE lessons and extracurricular sports activities when they are already stretched across multiple priorities.
Did success in the Women’s Euro 2022 highlight a problem?
Following that amazing Euro’s success – which had the nation ‘on the edge of its seat’ – the triumphant Lionesses issued an open letter to leadership contenders Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss. It lobbied for equality of opportunity for girls who are interested in football. The letter also called for other changes in the way PE is structured and delivered, so “young girls can flourish”.
They said: “We want every young girl in the nation to be able to play football at school.”
Are girls missing out on football in UK schools; and if there are other deficits in PE provision why is that?
The Government’s response to lobbying by the Lionesses was that: “The National Curriculum for PE in schools does not differentiate in relation to sex.”
It also reinforced one of the key aims of its physical education and activity support: “The Chief Medical Officers for the UK recommend that where possible, children have 60 minutes of daily physical activity. We expect 30 minutes to take place during the school day.”
The list of government funding streams put in place to improve PE lessons, sports provision outside school hours, community facilities and other grassroots sports does indeed make impressive reading.
However, what is deeply significant, is that the government has ‘passed the ball’ and said: “It is for schools to decide which sports and physical activities they offer their pupils.”
When reality falls short of ambition
This is where the topic gets particularly thorny. How do schools resource extensive, equal and inclusive sports, when they are under so much pressure already?
Especially as not all schools have enough staff – or staff with the necessary range of skills – to ensure that all students get full access to a wide sporting experience. (What the Government refers to as a “flexible, diverse and challenging PE curriculum”.)
Of course, it’s only by offering choice and variety that you can be sure all pupils engage and get that 30 minutes of physical activity a day within school.
Evidence of how difficult it is for schools to keep both provision and engagement buoyant comes from England Football (part of the FA). It reported that around 63% of English schools offer equal football coaching to boys and girls. Significantly, 72% of primary schools offer girls equal access to football in PE, but that figure plunges to 44% at the secondary level.
In May 2022, The Youth Sports Trust charity called for far more focus on ensuring there is “a place for every child in sport”. That means “encouraging schools to focus on physical activity and sport environments where every young person feels they belong regardless of ability or motivation.”
The Trust said this matters because: “Positive PE experiences last a lifetime.”
How can schools deliver cross-gender and cross-genre sports?
One of the keys to unlocking more engagement in sports in school is making it more enjoyable and rewarding, as well as more readily available throughout and beyond the school day.
There’s a practical solution to help you meet ambitions and aims across this whole topic. You could outsource both PE and extracurricular sports activities to the UK leader in ‘this field’. The Little Foxes Club has a superb track record for working with schools – and within communities – to deliver customised sports initiatives and coaching sessions. With safety, inclusion, quality and enjoyment built in.
We do all the admin and even collect payments for any before or after-school sports provision you arranged.
All you need to do, is contact us, tell us what sports provision your school wants – and when – and we do all the ‘legwork’. Putting your school on track to excel in the PE and sports activities it provides to both genders.