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5 September 2008 | PR 08/128

Study shows health related exercise in secondary schools is overlooked

A number of PE teachers do not appear to be effectively promoting health and physical activity in secondary schools, according to a Loughborough university study.

Researchers in the University’s School of Sport and Exercise Sciences (SSES) have discovered that despite being a compulsory part of the curriculum, health related exercise (HRE) is often marginalised or poorly delivered in many secondary schools across England.

HRE was introduced as a statutory component of the National Curriculum in 1992 and is designed to encourage a healthy lifestyle among young people through a variety of sports and physical activities.

Researchers surveyed 112 secondary school PE teachers from different local authorities and conducted additional detailed interviews with 12 of the respondents. They found that, whilst most teachers appreciate the importance of HRE, many receive inadequate training in this area, which can lead to poor delivery and coverage of HRE within the physical education curriculum.

The study identified a lack of formal guidance on the delivery of HRE and confusion around what HRE constitutes. The research underlines the importance of engaging teachers in appropriate continuous professional development (CPD) so they have the necessary knowledge, skills and understanding to help pupils improve their health.

“The limited experiences that many teachers had of health related exercise in their initial teacher training may be a key contributor to the narrow views and limited understanding that many had,” said lead researcher Laura Ward.

“Many PE teachers come from competitive sports backgrounds. A lack of further training in health related areas means teachers aren’t really aware of the full range of activities that can achieve the aims of HRE.

“For a number of them health and life-long physical activity were areas which were absent from their CPD profiles and as such, they seem to be relying on their own personal philosophies to guide their practices.

“Even the £18m National PE and School Sport CPD programme which contains modules for teachers on health-based physical education, appears to have limited impact. Of the teachers we surveyed, only 7% had accessed the national CPD programme, and less than half knew about it, which points to a lack of awareness of all training opportunities.”

Miss Ward is presenting her research at the annual British Educational Research Association at its annual conference in Edinburgh today (Friday 5 September).

– Ends –

For all media enquiries contact:

Amanda Overend
Sport PR Officer
Loughborough University
T: 01509 228686
E: A.J.Overend@lboro.ac.uk

Notes for editors:

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for excellence in teaching and research, strong links with industry and unrivalled sporting achievement.

It is a member of the esteemed 1994 Group – a set of internationally recognised, research intensive universities – and has a reputation for the relevance of its work. Its degree programmes are highly regarded by professional institutions and businesses, and its graduates are consistently targeted by the UK’s top recruiters.

Loughborough is also the UK’s premier university for sport. It has perhaps the best integrated sports development environment in the world and is home to some of the country’s leading coaches, sports scientists and support staff. It also has the country’s largest concentration of world-class training facilities across a wide range of sports.

In the 2007 National Student Survey, the University was voted fourth in the UK, with 23 out of 29 of Loughborough’s subject areas being ranked in the top ten for overall satisfaction. Loughborough is also ranked in the top fifteen of UK universities in national league tables. It was named winner of the 2006 and 2007 Times Higher award for the UK’s Best Student Experience and winner of the 2007 award for Outstanding Support for Overseas Students. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded six Queen's Anniversary Prizes – an achievement bettered by no other university.

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