PE Sport and Physical Activity in Scotland and beyond

Times Ed (Scotland) 10/08/07

Posted by drilly on August 15, 2007


In last weeks TESS “Small classes, big results” Steven Mcguckin Faculty head of PE and Drama at Larbert High School outlined his aspiration for smaller class sizes for PE across Scotland. He alludes to the anomaly that PE in Scotland is not viewed as a practical subject on a par with subjects such as the sciences where class sizes are a maximum of 20. PE in the majority of Schools in Scotland is delivered in larger class sizes up to a maximum of 33 in some schools. Mr Mcguckin believes that the quality of the experience in PE is enhanced with smaller class sizes.

I would have to agree with him. In my current school we had class sizes of 20 for S1 & S2 PE but this was scrapped and as a result the class size increased and I feel the quality of the pupil experience decreased and the quality of the teachers experience also decreased. Organisation, administration, building relationships and getting to know the class and individual pupils all takes longer and your attention is divided between more pupils so the time you spend with individuals is reduced. Maybe the Executive should consider reducing class sizes in PE as an additional target to drive up the quality of the pupils experience. Maybe this would be a better target than the 2 hour time recommendation

In my mind it is the quality of the experience that is the most important issue, though reducing class sizes is not the only solution as we also need to look at the quality of what we are delivering and the quality of how we deliver it. The ideal would be 2 hours of high quality PE in practical class sizes but judging by the progress made with the 2 hour recommendation alone and the costs involved I cant see this happening any time soon.


Another article also grabbed my attention “On a par with the boys”. In order to boost the number of girls playing golf in Scotland we are going to follow a Swedish model of girls only sessions. A pilot programme in Aberdeenshire suggests the model could be successful. “Girls are less intimidated if they are involved in all girl sessions” ” there was not just peer group pressure in terms of ability but in terms of whether playing golf is cool or not” “boys try to show off. Girls are generally not as competitive as boys”

Are there lessons to be learned for how we organise PE ? I have heard the same issues raised regarding the reasons why girls enthusiasm and participation in PE drops as they get older. Some schools have always had single gender PE  but many are co-ed. Some of the co-ed schools are starting to shift to single gender classes and have reported an increased level of participation from the girls. Is this the way forward?

I have always taught in co-ed departments though occasionally it has worked out that I have had an all male Standard Grade class or an all female trampolining class in S4 choices. In my opinion I think there is merit in both co-ed and single gender PE and my personal preference would be a blend of both where some activities would be male or female only and some would be co-ed.



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