PE Sport and Physical Activity in Scotland and beyond

Christopher Brookmyre an Insight into PE?

Posted by drilly on August 16, 2007

Ewan Mcintosh wrote earlier this week about Harry, Hermione and Ron give a clue on digital literacy . There was also an article in the Scotsman Hogwarts ‘provides lessons in teaching dos and don’ts’ on the research of Dr Jennifer Conn. Dr Conn highlights instances from the Harry Potter books that demonstrate good and bad teaching.


As chance would have it I am currently reading A tale etched in blood an hard black pencil by Chritopher Brookmyre and a thoroughly enjoyable read it is to. In fact I would recommend all his titles. Drawing parallels to the 2 articles above here are Brookmyres characters reflections on PE in the Seventies and Eighties but how much is still true today?

 The Value of PE

“Martin was really pleased when he looked at the time table and saw you get PE twice a week, two whole double periods, guaranteed. You were meant to get it once a week at primary, but you were lucky if it was once a month because the teachers could seldom be bothered, with O’Connor particularly remiss. She would use any excuse to ditch it: You were all talking too much so PE’s cancelled as punishment; There’s a virus going around and exercise tires you out and makes you vulnerable to infection

I would like to believe we have moved on but I still hear stories on my travels of pupils in primary schools being excluded from PE as a punishment and occasionally teachers who really would rather avoid teaching the subject. I also hear about PE lessons in primary and secondary cancelled at the drop of a hat, though in fairness this is usually because of facilities being used for an assembly, a visiting speaker, practicing for a production and exams. However this all serves to illustrate how PE is perceived in many establishments. Imagine the outcry from staff and parents if the Maths or English department was forced to vacate their facilities and adapt their curriculum for the duration of the exam programme.

 What we teach

“at St Graces…it’s real, structured sports… not rubbishy music and movement tapes or a shambolic game of rounders”

It is vital that what we do is planned and relevant for the pupils and reflects their interests.

 Engaging the Pupils

“The PE teachers have a cuppa tea thegither while we’re getting changed. It’s ayeways the same, ma big brer tellt us. They know fine it takes us two minutes tae get changed but they sit oan there erses for a good quarter ay an hour”

Pupils come into our secondary PE departments from primary full of energy and enthusiasm and if we don’t harness it we may lose them. Research form the the Physical Activity of Scottish Schoolchildren (PASS) project shows us that something happens to a significant number of pupils, especially girls, that turns them away from PE and physical activity when they move on to secondary schools.  In Brookmyres book the outcome is much more humorous as the boys apply that energy to other activities in the changing rooms (you will have to read the book to find out what these are).


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