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Progress towards the recommendations of the Physical Education Review Group

DescriptionProgress towards the recommendations of the Physical Education Review Group
Official Print Publication DateJanuary 2006
Website Publication DateJanuary 16, 2006

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Education Department

Progress towards the recommendations of the Physical Education Review Group

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In June 2004, the Minister for Education and Young People formally endorsed the recommendations of the Physical Education Review Group. There were a number of recommendations aimed at local authorities, schools, initial teacher education providers and teachers themselves, as well as the Scottish Executive. In accepting the recommendations outlined in the report, the Minister committed to 10 actions aimed at providing more time for physical education, more teachers of physical education, and more choice in physical education. (For further detail please see

These actions also form the basis of delivering Target 2 of Sport 21 2003-2007. Target 2 is: 'To make progress towards all school children taking part in at least two hours of high quality physical education classes a week'.

Baseline Data

In order to provide a baseline assessment of the starting position from which progress towards this target can be measured, a survey of taught physical education provision in the 2004/05 school year was undertaken. The following chart shows provision within the 2004/05 curricula:


The key messages from this baseline study of taught physical education lessons within the standard school week are:

Primary Schools:

  • On average, primary schools allocate 1 hour and 10 minutes of the weekly curriculum to physical education.
  • The vast majority of primary school pupils (93 %) have provision within their curriculum for at least 45 minutes of taught physical education.
  • Just over two thirds (69 %) of primary school pupils have provision for 1 hour of taught physical education within their curriculum.
  • Just under a third (30 %) of primary school pupils have provision for 90 minutes of taught physical education, with one in twenty (5 %) primary school pupils currently receiving the 2 hour aspiration.

It should be noted that ad hoc activities within primary schools such as health week, sports days and cycling proficiency are not included in these figures as these do not currently form part of the standard (curriculum) school week. These activities, although not strictly physical education, are seen by many schools as an important part of a child's overall physical activity at school.

Secondary Schools (S1 - S4):

  • On average, secondary schools allocate 1 hour and 40 minutes of the weekly curriculum to physical education.
  • Almost all (99.5 %) S1 to S4 pupils have provision in their curriculum for at least 45 minutes of taught physical education. 87% are provided 1 hour per week.
  • Almost three quarters (72 %) of S1 to S4 pupils have provision in their curriculum for at least 90 minutes of taught physical education.
  • 7% of secondary school pupils are currently provided the 2 hour aspiration.

Secondary Schools (S5 - S6):

  • Non National Qualification physical education drops off significantly for S5 and S6.
  • Just under a third (30 %) of S5 pupils are provided 45 minutes or more of taught physical education in their curriculum, falling to around 1 in 8 (12 %) in S6.

Taught, non National Qualification physical education lessons are often optional for S5 and S6 pupils. As such schools may have only included mandatory S1 to S4 lessons in the figures provided to the Scottish Executive and will not have included S5 and S6 'optional physical education' provision.

On-going activity in support of the recommendations

i. Curriculum Review

The Minister has asked that the Curriculum for Excellence Programme ensures that there is sufficient flexibility in the curriculum to allow schools to accommodate the provision of least 2 hours of good quality physical education for each child every week. The starting point for the Programme's work on this has been to establish a small group to look at existing guidance for physical education, health and well-being. This group met for the first time on 25 / 26 August. The outcome of this initial work is expected to be available around January / February 2006 and will act as the starting point for wide debate, testing, refinement and consideration with the curriculum as a whole.

ii. Awareness Raising Seminars

Regional seminars were held by Learning and Teaching Scotland during March 2005 in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dunblane. The seminars were well attended with the bulk of places being taken up by local authorities and schools but other organisations such as the Higher Education sector and sportscotland were also represented. Feedback suggests that those attending found the seminars useful and informative. Learning and Teaching Scotland propose to build on these seminars by arranging a National Conference to disseminate and discuss the outcome of the LT Scotland / HMIE work on good practice exemplars. The conference is planned for September 2006.

iii. Pilot Projects

In June 2005, the Minister for Education and Young People approved proposals to invite bids for a limited amount of funding to support 5 or 6 small pilot projects to inform development strategies for delivery of 2 hours of quality physical education to every child each week within the context of A Curriculum for Excellence. Proposals were received from 16 authorities. 7 projects were approved (Clackmannanshire, East Lothian, East Renfrewshire, Falkirk, Highland, North Ayrshire and Shetland). The projects will be showcased on the Learning and Teaching Scotland website in due course.

iv. Additional Physical Education Teachers

Funding to support the recruitment of additional teachers will start to be available from 2006/2007 when the first of the additional physical education teachers will become available for employment. The method of allocating this funding is in the final stages of discussion with CoSLA.

Supplying the additional physical education teachers will be achieved partly by Initial Teacher Education through the one year Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) and also by enhancing the skills of existing primary teachers, and backfilling primary teacher posts

There has been an overall increase in recruitment of entrants to the PGCE in physical education from 9 in 2003-2004 to 80 in 2005-2006. In the 2005-06 session, Strathclyde University increased the intake to 42 compared with 9 in 2003-04. This has been achieved mainly through revising the entry requirements, making courses more accessible to a wider range of applicants. Edinburgh University and Paisley University have both started PGCE courses in physical education with intakes of 22 and 16 respectively in 2005-06.

Glasgow University, in conjunction with Glasgow City Council, is running a 2 year course for existing primary teachers to develop physical education specialisms. The course started in 2004-2005. The University plans to run the course with Glasgow City and North Ayrshire Council in 2006-07.

Other proposals currently being considered are:

  • rolling the Glasgow University course out to authorities other than those mentioned above;
  • support for the development of alternative models such as courses taking place at Easter or over the summer or during term time;
  • rolling out similar courses at other institutions - discussions have already taken place with Edinburgh University and Strathclyde University have proposals to develop a course.

v. Complementary activity

The Scottish Executive is committed to ensure that every school in Scotland is a Health Promoting School by the end of 2007. A Health Promoting School is one in which all members of the school community work together to provide children and young people with integrated and positive experiences and structures, which promote and protect their health. This includes both the formal and the informal curriculum in health, the creation of a safe and healthy school environment, the provision of appropriate health services and the involvement of the family and wider community in efforts to promote health.

In order to be Health Promoting a school will have to be an Active School. Active Schools aims to encourage more participation in formal and informal sports, active travel to school and active play. Active Schools will develop existing schemes such as Active Primaries and School Sport Co-ordinators in an integrated manner and further link these to other physical activity initiatives developed from New Opportunities funding. Active Schools Co-ordinators lead the strategic management, co-ordination and implementation of the Active Schools programme throughout primary and secondary schools, and the wider community. They work closely with class teachers, physical education specialists, primary and secondary head teachers, local authority sports development staff, school travel co-ordinators, governing bodies of sport and local sports clubs

Outdoor education is a widely recognised and valued component of a rounded and rich educational experience and it is clear that it provides a very important setting for young people to discover more about themselves and to engage physically with their environment. Early experience of the outdoors can encourage young people to develop a lifelong active interest in outdoor opportunities and pursuits. Schools in Scotland currently offer a wide variety of outdoor education opportunities and in order to raise awareness and develop opportunities Learning and Teaching Scotland have been commissioned to take forward a development programme for outdoor education.

Scottish Executive Education Department
January 2005

For further information please contact:

Julie McCallum

Scottish Executive Education Department
Qualifications, Assessment and Curriculum Division
2A Victoria Quay

+44(0)131 244 7015

Annex 1: Physical Education Provision within the Curriculum

Baseline data collection - definitions

Following consultation through the Data Requirements Technical Group and School Education Information Advisory Group in April 2005, schools were asked, for each stage in their school, to provide the average curriculum time per pupil (in minutes) set aside in the 2004/05 school year for taught physical education within the standard school week.

The survey was for mandatory, taught PE lessons (core in secondary and special schools) only.

The figures include:

  • any time for changing into and out of physical education clothing by pupils
  • swimming if it is part of the curriculum within the school stage
  • core (non-NQ) provision for S5 and S6 if applicable

The figures do not include:

  • one-off initiatives such as health week or activity afternoons
  • time set aside for a specialist group within the stage such as extra coaching for school teams or pupils taking NQs in secondary and special schools
  • any other optional activities
  • adults in community schools
Baseline data collection - average curriculum time

Table 1: Primary Schools

PE Ch 1

Note: Figures for Scotland include Jordanhill.
The averages are pupil weighted.

Table 2: Secondary Schools

PE Tab 2

Table 3: Special Schools

PE Tab 3

Note: Special schools were asked for average curriculum time across all stages.

The averages are pupil weighted.

Baseline data collection - percent of pupils with at least 45, 60, 90 and 120 minutes weekly physical education provision

Table 4

PE Tab 4