physical education

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PE A Positive Effect On Behaviour Physical Education Essay

Introduction

The main theme of this project is to explore the reasons why the teaching of physical education (PE) has a positive effect on the behaviour and attendance of pupils in UK secondary schools. However, it is very important to recognise that increased physical activity is only part of the equation in improving the health and fitness of young people. The concept of lifestyle provides us with an appropriate platform to investigate the other key factors involved in improving the quality of life of our children. By coming to understand and appreciate these other factors, we will begin to see the importance that PE plays in an integrated approach that if successful can deliver a wide number of benefits, such as:

A better diet and improved physical health

Better behaviour in and outside of school

An increase in school attendance

A more effective academic performance

Improved self-image and an increase in self-esteem

A greater willingness to pursue a progressive and proactive lifestyle

A reduction in drug and alcohol abuse

Thus the project will explore the problems caused by the rise of obesity in young people. Closely associated with this area is the damaging impact a sedentary and inactive lifestyle can have on children. Also we need to need to explore the cultural changes and other trends that have a major impact on young people in terms of how they think, act and live. The project will then proceed to investigate the current state of PE within UK secondary schools and will conclude by making recommendations on improvements can be made. With the objective of increasing the chances of securing the benefits listed above.

1. The Problem With PE

1.1 Childhood Memories Of PE

Before exploring the damaging impact of obesity and the influence of cultural changes on young people, it is useful to begin to analyse the problems with PE and the images it generates within the mind of the general public. Ask anyone of age in the UK what they think of PE and you will generate a wide variety of responses. Probably very few of them will be positive. Most people are likely to recall fading memories of being forced to do cross country around muddy fields. For people who were overweight when they were young, their memories are likely to be much more painful.

Research indicates that overweight children are more likely to be bullied when at school. This is because being overweight immediately sets them apart from the other children and thus this physical difference provides easy ammunition for other pupils and on occasions, teachers to reinforce their inferiority by constantly goading them with regard to be being fat. Overweight children are at a massive disadvantage when becoming involved any type of physical activity. Even the act of getting undressed and getting changed into sports kit can be hugely embarrassing. Such negative experiences at a very early age are clearly are very damaging to a person’s self-image and will put them off physical exercise for life.

1.2 The Unfit Working Classes

It is interesting to note how PE came into being within the school curriculum. PE was first introduced into the school curriculum in the early 1900s by a Colonel Fox of the War Office. This was because of the huge numbers of deaths and casualties in the Boer War were felt, in part, to be due to a hugely unfit working class. And, it was feared, unless we did something to improve the “….health and discipline of the masses….” – we would never be able to raise a competent army. Therefore, PE was introduced into the school curriculum in order to improve the fitness of the working classes in case we had to raise an army and fight a war.

Clearly the days of raising an army through conscription are long gone but yet has anyone taken the time to define the role of PE within the school curriculum? This is a very important question and one we shall return to. This is because we need to produce a clear definition of the role of PE within the modern day school curriculum – as this will provide the basis of developing and implementing educational policies for years to come. At this juncture it is interesting to draw upon the Australian experience of teaching PE, where it has been identified how various delivery methods can actually deter children from becoming involved in physical activities.

1.3 The Australian Experience

In Australia the number of obese children has recently dramatically over the last 10 years. Australia is a sport obsessed nation and has achieved great success at many levels. Therefore, it is ironic that recent research has revealed that the way in which PE is taught, is putting children off from participating in physical activities. Monash University lecturer and researcher Zophia Pawlaczek caused a stir when she said that PE alienated many children and might be a greater contributor than junk food to the national weight problem.

To counter act obesity the Australian prime minister linked two hours per week to federal funding, but more sport alone may not be the answer. Zophia Pawlaczek stated that work in the UK and the USA supports her assertion that too much physical education in Western countries is delivered as organised support, and this turns off large numbers of children off physical activity. School sport gives children the idea they are either “sporty” or “not sporty”. If children lack confidence in their skills, they often lose interest in physical activity.

Zophia Pawlaczek’s research encountered stiff opposition from Mary Wilson, who is the executive director of the Victorian Government’s prime sports education advisory body, who defended the state’s system. Victoria is only one of two Australian states where physical education has been enshrined in the core curriculum. Schools are encouraged to incorporate physical education and activity into their culture and general curriculum. One school celebrated for its approach to physical education is Miner’s Rest Primary, near Ballarat. Children are actively encouraged to organise their own events, clubs and training sessions for a variety of activities.

Herein lies a valuable lesson, which can be learnt by future policy makers – that is, the delivery of PE needs to be broken down into a variety of different events. For example, there is still a place for organised competitive sport in the school curriculum. However, a greater variety of activities need to be offered to encourage children, regardless of their abilities, to become proactively involved with physical education.

1.4 Timetabling Pressures Caused By The National Curriculum

However, the problems that confronts the teaching of PE in secondary schools, stretches beyond the methods of delivery that are used. The National Curriculum was launched in 1988 and since that time, school timetables have come under severe pressure to accommodate all of the demands that are being made upon them. Various government initiatives to improve literacy and numeracy standards across all four key stages of the national curriculum have had a negative impact on other subjects. PE being a non-academic subject has perhaps suffered the most as a result of these pressures.

The impact on PE as a result of these pressures is documented in a survey produced by the NAHT. The survey revealed that the continuing pressures to raise Literacy and Numeracy standards had been detrimental for PE. There has been a decline in competitive sport with too little time to fit it in and deal with the arrangements. Teachers often feel “burnt out” and no longer have the time or energy to take extra sports lessons. It was also very difficult to find interested, let alone trained staff, to deliver PE in schools. PE / sport – is not a government priority in terms of facilities, time or training.

In secondary schools the survey specifically highlighted the following problems. PE is increasingly under pressure from\timetable space. Inter-school competitions or clubs are now directly in competition with homework clubs. The constant clash of A-levels with senior fixture time is leading to friction between PE and other staff. Increased pressure of examination subjects in PE now means that PE staff have extra curricular pressures as well as those of marking homework and coursework.

The survey also highlighted the problems caused by a lack of resources. Transport costs associated with fulfilling the requirements of fixture lists can placed major pressures on school budgets. After-school transport is a particular issue for schools serving a wide rural catchment area. This makes going to matches very expensive. Separate funding is needed to pay specialist staff to teach for longer outside the school day. The reduction of willing staff from other areas means that the amount of extra-curricular time will reduce. The demand for increased access to higher grade facilities is continuing.

1.5 The Impact Of Cultural And Demographic Pressures

Other developments are further eroding the importance of PE within school timetables. The loss of playing fields within the UK has been a major problem for the last 20 years. The UK is a small island and is densely populated. Whilst the population remains static at 60m, significant demographic and cultural developments have resulted in huge changes in the way we live. The break up of the family unit, a rapidly rising divorce rate and the fact the average age for getting married has risen, means the demand for housing has increased. Something like, 40% of the households in the UK only consist of one person.

The problem is compounded by the fact that something like 40% of the population are concentrated in the south east of England. There is huge pressure to convert every open space into a housing estate. Between 1979 and 1995 the Conservative administration sold off more than 5,000 school sports fields. In Camden, London, there is a population of 300,000 people, but there is not a single green pitch available for school children. The sale of playing fields has continued under the Labour government since 1997. This means that the opportunities for children to participate in physical and sporting activities are being reduced.

1.6 The Effect Of Car Use On Children’s Physical Activity Patterns

Widespread concern about rising levels of car use by children is often coupled with observations that children are becoming less active and that levels of overweight and obesity are increasing. Among the policy interventions designed to promote physical activity amongst children are those targeting modal shift from the car to the other options such as walking and cycling would appear to deal simultaneously with car and physical activity issues. However, whilst both health and transport fields tend to link the increase in car use with the rise in obesity and decline in physical activity, these links have not been fully researched and confirmed.

There is ample evidence to show that car use is increasing amongst both children and adults (Mackett 2002, et al. 2002a,c). Figures taken from the National Travel Survey for Great Britain (NTS) show that whilst in 1964 32% of all trips were made by car by 1997/99 this had increased to 65%. Although children may make fewer trips by car than adults there has also been a significant increase in trips by children from 20% in 1964 to 47% in 1997/9. National statistics also show that cars are increasingly used for shorter journeys. According to figures with the NTS over 70% of all travel by children is now by car, contrasting with a figure of 37% in 1964 (National Travel Survey 1964, 1997/9; Mackett et al. 2002c).

One area of concern is the increasing use of the car to take children to school and back. Again, the NTS shows that there has been an overall increase in the proportion of primary school children taken to school whilst DiGuiseppi et al. (1998) show that the use of the car has for school journeys has contributed to an overall annual decrease in the amount children walk. One area where there is less quantitative research has been in the growth of structured activities. This, it is argued, has led to parents spending more time driving their children to activities.

Whilst the link between increased car use and a rise in obesity levels amongst children, has not been conclusively proven. Clearly increased car use does lead to reduced physical activity amongst children. Thus if PE is going to make a significant contribution towards the fitness levels of young people, the research on increased car use, reinforces the point that other policy areas must be critically evaluated to see how children can be encouraged to engage in more physical activities. Improving the quality of how PE is delivered in secondary solutions is only part of the answer.

2. The Globalisation of Obesity

2.1 The American Experience

In the United States obesity in children of all races has increased two to three times over the past 25 years. In the UK, the rates for the same period are over two times. Between 1994 and 2004 the number of overweight and obese children tripled in Australia. The medical problems for young people that are overweight or obese are well documented. Obesity in children has the same result as with adults. That is, hypertension, chronic inflammation, increased tendency for blood clotting and related problems. Obesity in children results in a clustering of cardiovascular disease risk factors, known as insulin-resistance syndrome, in children as young as five years of age. Obesity puts extreme pressure in the child’s and adolescent’s heart. Pulmonary complications, including sleep-disorders, breathing problems and asthma, can develop.

There are no simple answers to these problems. Scientific research has provided numerous examples of how more exercise and better diet are a good start towards resolving the obesity problem. However, there has been a sizeable shift in eating patterns in the last 25 years. The “globalisation” of obesity began in the USA. As two American researchers stated, “….it is hard to envisage an environment more effective than ours for producing obesity….” For example, in the 1970s, children ate 17% of their meals away from the home. By the mid-1980s that figure was almost doubled to 30%. Food consumption increased fivefold. Soft drink production almost tripled for girls and boys in the same time period.

There are 170,000 fast food restaurants in the United States alone. Advertising and marketing expenditures by the food industry are over $12.7 billion. Marketing campaigns are directed towards young kids. By contrast, the budget of the U.S. National Cancer Institute’s good food programme was $1.1 million in 1969. The experiences of the United States provide an excellent example of the impact of cultural changes on the eating habits of young people. Unfortunately, the events in the United States have been closely followed by similar changes in other developed countries such as the UK and Australia.

Not only does being overweight or obese have serious health problems for young children, there are also extensive psycho-social consequences. Obese children are routinely stereotyped as unhealthy, academically unsuccessful, socially inept, lazy and unhygienic. Paediatricians have documented negative self-image concepts starting as early as five. Sadness, loneliness, nervousness, and high-risk activities are quite commonly described. These psycho-social consequences provide some of the underpinning reasons for behavioural and attendance problems in schools.

2.2 The Impact Of Globalisation

Globalisation has become a significant concept within the last 10 years. In many respects it is about the globalisation of the United States lifestyle. Notably what starts in the United States will spread throughout the world. This is because America has a massive political, economic, social and cultural impact on the rest of the world. The fast food chains, the soft drink and mass food manufacturers are all huge American based corporations.

As outlined above, obesity in the United States has been recognised as a major problem. For years the tobacco industry in the United States has been under massive from federal agencies and private law suits from people who have cancer caused by smoking. The issue of smoking has been at the top of the political agenda for many years. It is resulted in the banning of many forms of tobacco advertising and the associated sponsorship of sport. Smoking bans now exist in all public buildings and some open spaces. The vast majority of private companies now operate a non-smoking policy in their buildings and work environments.

2.3 Action To Combat Rising Levels Of Obesity

Currently there pressures on the federal government to take assertive action to reduce obesity levels amongst school children. Such action includes the removal of vending machines from all school premises. Fast foods and soft drinks need to be taxed. Nutritious foods (e.g. vegetables and fruit) need to be subsidised. The major cause of the problem is agribusiness and their massive financial contributions to political campaigns. There are calls for regulations of political contributions by the purveyors of bad and dangerous foods.

Clearly there are many things we can learn from the United States experience. Thus providing UK political, food and educational authorities with the knowledge and understanding needed to implement policy changes, which will reduce obesity levels. Tackling this issue head on will provide the momentum to resolve the associated physical damage and self-image factors, which go hand-in-hand with being overweight and obese.

3. Obesity, Health AND SPORT In The UK

3.1 The Ticking Time Bomb

Recent research indicating that 11-16 year olds in the UK eat on average 133 pre-packaged ready meals and takeaways a (nearly 3 every week) can only be interpreted as bad news. The World Health Organisation (WHO) is calling for a limit on the consumption of saturated fats, sugar and salt, especially in snacks and drinks, often the prime offenders. At the same time, the World Sugar Research Organisation is lobbying hard against this advice and the US government has said it intends to ignore the recommendations.

Clinicians have referred to rising obesity levels among young people as a “ticking time-bomb”, one American obesity expert even predicting that parents will outlive their parents. BBC research reveals that the average young person in Britain spends less time in an average day engaged in physical activity than the average pensioner. In spite of these ominous signs, there is much good work being delivered to young people concerning their diet and fitness, and this is being administered at all levels – from Government at national level to individual youth workers at local level.

3.2 Initiatives To Combat Obesity

The national initiatives are as follows:

Breakfast clubs – School breakfast clubs are a form of before school provision serving healthy breakfasts to children who arrive early. It is reckoned that up to 25% of young people do not currently eat an adequate breakfast.

Five A Day campaign – Fronted by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES), this campaign works with schools to encourage young people to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day, and to understand the importance of a healthy diet.

The Growing Schools initiative – The Department for Environment, Food And Rural Affairs (DEFRA) are on the steering group of the Growing Schools initiative which aims to link schools more closely with farming and the countryside in general.

National Health Schools Programme – In 1998, the Department of Health and the Department of Education set up a Healthy Schools Programme in a bid to create a National Healthy Schools Standard (NHSS). The target is that by 2006 all schools with 20% or more free school meal eligibility will become “Healthy Schools”.

In addition to these government sponsored schemes, there are numerous ventures at local and regional level designed to foster ideas of healthy lifestyles and healthy eating among the young. These developments reinforce the notion that in order to improve the behaviour and academic performance of young people, a holistic approach is needed. A sedentary lifestyle, an extremely poor diet and a lack of physical education are a recipe for disaster.

3.3 The Health And Social Benefits Of PE And Sport

The significance of sport in society is beyond question. PE and Sport have a role to play in reducing the constraints which excluded groups, experience. Sport and recreational development help to reduce exclusion by enhancing community development opportunities. These are as follows:

Social cohesion

Equal opportunities

Crime prevention and community safety

Lifelong learning

Active healthy lifestyles

Social and economic regeneration

Jobs creation and environment protection

PE and Sport has a vital role to play in health enhancement. Physical activity comprises any body movement produced by skeletal muscles which results in energy expenditure above the resting state.

It is well documented that participation in moderate level physical activity has a wide range of health benefits including:

Reducing the risk of coronary heart disease by up to 50%

Reducing the risk of diabetes

Helping to control blood pressure

Helping to maintain strong muscles and healthy joints

Enhancing sleep quality and quantity

Controlling weight

In each of the above cases it can be clearly seen how a person’s life can be positively affected. To the list can be added a series of less visible but just as important psychological and social benefits including:

Stress reduction

Increased opportunities

Personal and community development

Britain’s health statistics document the growing problem of coronary disease, and display one of the highest rates in Europe. The very real challenge for providers of physical activities is to develop existing awareness and to provide means for people to access activities which suit their needs and tastes. The precise role of sport as a form of physical activity, with the entire attendant benefits, needs to be clearly explained to the school community and young people throughout.

3.4 External Influences

Sometimes things will only change and move items to the top of the political agenda, when an outside influence intervenes. In 2005, the celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver, made a television documentary about the poor quality of the school meals being consumed by children throughout the UK. In March of that year, the Government announced an extra £280m to tackle the school meals “crisis”. Jamie Oliver said the cash boost was “20 years too late”, but the “right sort of money”. The row over the cost of school dinners escalated after the chef’s Channel 4 show revealed how little some schools in south-east London spent on school meals. Oliver’s “Feed Me Better” campaign attracted 271,677 signatures of support.

Young people are bombarded with mixed messages from the media, from their peers and other sources. Good practice with young people is likely to result from projects that take advantage of joined up thinking, projects in which everyone involved can collaborate successfully and work towards a healthier future for individuals and society. Thus whilst it is important to improve the quality and delivery of PE in secondary schools, it must be remembered that we are only children for a very short period of our lives.

Thus it is of little point dramatically increasing the participation of school children in sport and other physical activities, if in the longer term they simply revert back to a sedentary lifestyle and indulge in a poor and unhealthy diet. What is really needed is to promote a cultural change in how young people see themselves. In other words a young person with a very positive self-image will appreciate the benefits of sport and physical activity and perceive it as an integral part of a positive and proactive lifestyle.

4. THINKING OUTSIDE OF THE BOX

4.1 PE In Secondary Schools – Ofsted Report 2001/02

The main findings of this report may be summarised as follows:

Over half of schools made significant improvement in PE since their last inspection; one in twenty failed to improve.

Results in GCSE continued to improved, but the gap between boys and girls had not reduced.

The quality of teaching remained good or very good in 75% of schools.

In a significant minority of schools the PE curriculum does not provide well enough for continuity and progression in learning.

The quality and use of ongoing assessment remained the main weaknesses in PE teaching.

Leadership and management in the subject were satisfactory in the majority of schools and were good in over two thirds.

25% of schools continued to have inadequate accommodation – this inhibited pupils’ access to a range of curricular and extra-curricular opportunities.

On the whole the Ofsted report portrayed an optimistic picture – on the whole PE was being delivered to a good standard throughout the majority of secondary schools. Such Ofsted inspections are subject specific and fail to address the broader issues that have been highlighted in this project. That is, PE was introduced into the school curriculum to improve the fitness of the working class - to ensure that in the event of war a conscripted army would be physically strong and fit enough to deal with the rigours of combat. In the last 100 years the world has changed dramatically. As the project has revealed we now are faced with increasing obesity levels in children of all ages throughout the western world.

Working life has also radically changed – very few people are employed to carry out physical labour. An improvement in living standards and the rise of the car as the main form of transport for the vast majority of the population have led to more people leading sedentary lifestyles. The physical and mental health implications of these developments have been examined by the project. Thus as the last paragraph of section 3.4 outlined, PE must become part of a holistic strategy to raise the awareness and motivation of young people to lead more positive and progressive lifestyles.

4.2 National PE, School Sport And Club Links Strategy

In October 2002, the national PE, School Sport and Club Links Strategy was launched by the Prime Minister. It went live in April 2003. The Government is investing £978m between 2003/04 and 2007/08 to deliver the strategy. In addition lottery funding will be used to enhance school sports facilities. The Department for Education and Skills, and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport have come together to jointly lead the strategy. Its overall objective – is to enhance the take-up of sporting opportunities by 5 – 16 year olds. The ambitious target is to increase the percentage of school children who spend a minimum of two hours a week on high quality PE and school sport and beyond the curriculum to 75% by 2006 and then 85% by 2008.

The long-term ambition, by 2010, is to offer all children at least four hours of sport every week made up of:

At least two hours of high quality PE and sport at schools – with the expectation that this will be delivered totally within the curriculum;

An additional 2-3 hours beyond the school day delivered by a range of school, community and club providers.

This is clearly an ambitious strategy and indicates that government policy is now “thinking outside of the box”. That is, drawing upon the findings of research and a wide variety of initiatives, has at last recognised the importance that PE and Sport contribute towards improving the physical and mental health of young people. The strategy consists of nine interlinked work strands. These are as follows:

Sports Colleges

School Sport Partnerships

Professional Development

Step Into Sport

Gifted and Talented

Sporting Playgrounds

Swimming

QCA’s PE and School Sport Investigation (PESS)

4.3 PE and School Sport Investigation (PESS)

For the purposes of this project, the objectives and content of the PESS Investigation will be explored. Since 2000, QCA has been working with primary, secondary, special schools and partnerships across England to:

Develop ways of improving the quality of PESS

Explore the differences that high quality PESS can make to young people and their schools

The schools and partnerships involved in the PESS Investigation are aiming to ensure that all of their pupils spend a minimum of two hours each week on high quality PE and school sport. At the same time, each school and partnership has selected one or more whole-school improvement objectives that it would like to achieve through investing in PESS (ranging from improved progress and attainment in PESS, to improved behaviour and attendance). These broader objectives influence the strategies that the schools are using, which include:

Redesigning the PE curriculum

Developing break and lunchtimes to provide skill and health enhancing activities

Making the most of time for PE and school related activities before and after school

Supporting and developing teachers, other adults and young leaders

Investing in equipment and facilities for PESS

All of the schools and partnerships have benefited as a result of investing in PESS. Schools are happier and more successful, pupils have greater confidence.

4.4 The Benefits Of Investing In PESS

All of the schools involved in the PESS Investigation have achieved the target of 75% of their pupils taking part in a minimum of two hours high quality PESS each week. Most secondary schools have two hours of PE timetabled for all pupils in key stage 4, and many more pupils have additional time for GCSE PE and related qualifications. In some schools, this totals more than five hours of curriculum time.

As a result of making this investment in PESS, the schools have seen remarkable improvements in the following areas:

Progress and attainment in PE and school sport – Standards and achievement in PE and school sport have risen across the schools involved in the Investigation. GCSE results have improved. 16 schools that focused on using core tasks to improve progress and attainment in PE reported a significant improvement in standards that pupils achieved.

Increased involvement in healthy, active lifestyles – As an inevitable result of increased participation in PE and school sport, pupils are now more involved in healthy physical activity. Around one-third of the schools involved in the Investigation focused strongly on developing healthy, active lifestyles among their pupils and all have seen improvements in pupils’ patterns of physical activity and diet. Several have achieved the Healthy School standard.

Behaviour – Many schools involved in the Investigation chose to focus on improving behaviour through PE and school sport. Every school that did this saw an increase in positive behaviour with a reduction in negative behaviour.

Attendance – Schools that focused on using high quality PESS to improve pupils’ attendance have almost all succeeded in increasing the percentage of pupils attending school regularly on time.

Attitudes to learning – Every school involved in the Investigation has seen significant improvements in pupils’ confidence, self-esteem, desire to learn, concentration and time on task as a result of improving the quality of PE and school sport. This has had an impact not only in PE lessons, but also across the curriculum.

Attainment across the curriculum – All of the schools involved in the Investigation from the outset have seen improvements in national curriculum test and GCSE results. Although it is often difficult to relate improvements in attainment across the curriculum directly to investment in PE and sport, many head teachers feel that it has had a significant impact.

Leadership skills – High quality PE and school sport offer pupils many opportunities to develop leadership skills that they can then transfer across the curriculum and outside school. Most of the secondary schools involved in the Investigation now offer pupils the opportunity to work towards the Junior Sports Leader Award. All schools that have developed playground activities have trained pupils as play leaders. The quality of leadership skills shown by young people has improved significantly as a result.

Citizenship qualities – As part of improving the quality of PE and school sport, most of the schools in the Investigation have given pupils more opportunities to get involved in choosing activities through school councils, sports councils, junior governors and group decision making. As a result, there has been an overall improvement in pupils’ citizenship qualities.

Inclusion in PE and school sport – Schools involved in the PESS Investigation have worked to raise the participation of pupils of both sexes, whatever their culture, ethnicity, ability or disability. For example, several special schools increased access by training young leaders to run lunchtime clubs, introducing new activities to meet pupils’ needs and developing schemes to recognise participation and commitment.

5. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

5.1 Conclusions

As a result of conducting this project the following conclusions can be stated:

The traditional methods of teaching PE are a source of painful childhood memories for people who were overweight when they were children

Research in Australia has shown that some young people may be put off physical activity and sport for life, because of the way in which PE is taught in schools.

Since the introduction of the National Curriculum in 1988, greater has been placed on raising literacy and numeracy standards, this has reduced the amount of time to teach PE.

Cultural and demographic pressures has resulted in the sale of over 5,000 playing fields in the last 20 years. Thus reducing the opportunities for young people to participate in physical activities and sporting events.

The dramatic increase in the use of cars to take children to school and other destinations, has contributed towards making young people less physically active.

Obesity in children has risen dramatically in the last 20 years throughout the developed western world. Obesity causes major physical problems for children of all ages. There are also associated issues e.g. a lack of self-esteem, poor academic performance etc.

The benefits of PE and sport are well documented and can dramatically improve the quality of young people’s lives.

The PESS Investigation has resulted in a wide number of benefits being generated – among them are improved behaviour and increased attendance levels among secondary school pupils.

5.2 Recommendations

“….Thus it is of little point dramatically increasing the participation of school children in sport and other physical activities, if in the longer term they simply revert back to a sedentary lifestyle and indulge in a poor and unhealthy diet. What is really needed is to promote a cultural change in how young people see themselves. In other words a young person with a very positive self-image will appreciate the benefits of sport and physical activity and perceive it as an integral part of a positive and proactive lifestyle….”

The above passage of text is taken from the section 3. It clearly states that unless a holistic approach is taken to reduce the impact of obesity, sedentary lifestyles and reduced physical activity, amongst young people`- the problems highlighted by this project will continue to prevail and will have disastrous consequences for them in adulthood.

In October 2002, the national PE, School Sport and Club Links Strategy was launched by the Prime Minister. This strategy represents a holistic and coordinated approach to resolve the issues highlighted above. As section 4.4, has demonstrated, many benefits have been gained as a result of schools becoming involved in the PESS Investigation.

Therefore, it is recommended that this strategy must be developed and refined to reach out and engage disaffected young people. There is sufficient evidence to suggest that an extension of this policy could have a significant impact on reducing alcohol and drug abuse among young people. It could also reduce the level of anti-social and criminal activities perpetrated by adolescents. Below is an example of how the strategy could be developed to achieve these desired results.

In 2004 Northampton Borough Council launched its Streets Football project. The objective of this project is to engage young people, who complain of having nothing to do, in a purposeful activity. The following statements summarised the benefits the project can deliver “….For many of these teenagers they are usually lacking things to do. We try to positively affect the younger ones….” “….When we have a tournament, depending on the behaviour, we will choose the players who feel have the right attitude and commitment…”

The Streets Football project provides an excellent example of how sport can be used to engage disaffected young people in meaningful activities. A further development could be to encourage these youngsters to study for a coaching qualification. This would motivate them to improve their literacy and numeracy skills. Thus disaffected youngsters would begin to become engaged in a positive and proactive lifestyle.


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