Posted on 11th August 2012
Two Hours a Day?
The Olympics are still in full swing, but politicians are already keen to make sure there is a strong ‘legacy’ after the final medals have been awarded. While there has been a mostly positive response to and buzz around the Games, some key debates have arisen, such as the disproportionate number of athletes who were privately educated, and the lack of emphasis on sports in British school.
It was recently revealed that the government approved the sale of over 20 school sports fields, which does not send out a good message at all. Yet a number of important figures have been advocating the need to improve PE in schools and increase the number of hours of physical activity in children’s weekly timetables.
Boris Jonson, the London Mayor famed for his bicycle scheme, has said that he believes that after the Olympics children should do two hours of sport a day. Labour is pushing for two hours of compulsory sport a week, but Jonson doesn’t think that it is nearly enough, and nor do I. Jonson declared at a recent press conference,
“The government totally understands people’s appetite for this, they can see the benefits of sport and what it does for young people. They understand very, very clearly the social and economic advantages. I would like to see, frankly, the kind of regime I used to enjoy - compulsory two hours’ sport every day. I’ve no doubt that is the sort of thing that would be wonderful for kids across this country. It is of profound importance for the happiness and success of this country that we have more sport in schools.”
Two hours a day is probably somewhat tricky to fit into most timetables, but an hour should be feasible. Physical activity also helps children to concentrate better in lessons and so frequent PE lessons may well boost students’ focus in other classes.
Although Jonson and certain members of the Labour party aren’t on exactly the same wavelength when it comes to how much time they believe should be dedicated to sports, it is encouraging that politicians from both parties are dedicated to ensuring that there is a greater emphasis on sport in schools. Dame Tessa Jowell told the BBC that she wants, “a very clear agreement that a chunk of time every week [would be devoted to sport]” and shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg has said, “everyone who loves sport agrees we need to ensure pupils get enough hours of PE every week”, and David Cameron has also appeared keen to promote school sports after the Olympics.
The good news is that the government has already decided upon a £1bn investment plan for schools sports, but there is yet to be a decision about if there should be a compulsory number of hours of sport each week, and if so, how many hours in the timetable will be dedicated to sport.
Many health experts recommend at least an hour of aerobic activity a day for children and teenagers, but it is not just schools who should take responsibility for making sure children get enough exercise. Parents should encourage their children to play games - ideally outside in the fresh air and in a safe environment - as much as possible. So if you’re feeling inspired by the Olympics, why not grab a racket/bat/ball/shuttlecock/hockey stick, put on your trainers and get playing…