Poor Standards Turn Pupils off Physical Education; SPORTS: Inactive Children Run Risk of Ill-Health

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Byline: CATRIN WILLIAMS

SCHOOLCHILDREN have tried every trick in the book to skip PE but now there are fears dodging the lessons could have an impact on their long-term health.

Susan Lewis, the chief inspector of education and training in Wales, said standards in physical education were too low and disillusioned pupils were turning their backs on sports.

It has triggered fears a couchpotato generation will grow up suffering increasing ill-health and unable to compete at a national level.

The National Union of Teachers Cymru and the National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers Cymru say a squeeze on time available within the school week was exacerbating the problem. Some are even blaming a diet of pure rugby at school on the poor state of the national team.

Studies show schoolchildren in Wales have 90 minutes of curricular sport a week.

Matthew Mortlock, of the Sports Council for Wales, said the ideal level, not including travel or getting changed, was two hours because youngsters need at least an hour of moderate exercise a day to ward off heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and osteoporosis in later life.

Mary Sheppard, director of Fitness Wales, believes the impact of such inactivity on health will be enormous.

"Obesity levels have risen dramatically over the last 10 years in Wales and children as young as 14 are getting type-2 diabetes normally seen in adults of 60, " she said.

Geraint Davies, secretary of NASUWT Cymru, felt it was important for schools to get away from offering a rigid routine of rugby, hockey and netball as not everyone was a team player or found them fun.

"My generation were force-fed rugby at school and look at the national team - it was rugby or nothing and we are paying for that now, " Mr Davies said. …