Teachers ‘fuming’ at PE report

Scott Kennedy
Scott Kennedy

THE media’s portrayal of women and a lack of sporting role models are to blame for some girls not embracing physical education, according to a Mandeville teacher.

A new study suggests that girls in the UK are not getting enough exercise – and that schools hold the key to getting them active.

It claims that half of all girls are put off physical activity by their experiences of school sport.

But head of PE at Mandeville, Scott Kennedy, said that while most girls he teaches enjoy sport, schools were not to blame for some girls’ reluctance to participate.

“It is not PE that puts girls off sport, it is the media,” he said.

“Some girls may think looking sweaty and out of breath is perhaps not glamorous but that is the way girls are portrayed in the media. They want to conform to these stylings.”

Mr Kennedy added that there are a lack of sporting role models for girls.

“If you go to Australia and New Zealand women’s hockey and netball is shown on TV – but in the UK you have to tune in at 5am.

“A lot of teachers were fuming when the report came out,” he added.

The report, by the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation, shows that nationwide 45 per cent of girls say ‘sport is too competitive’, half say that getting sweaty is ‘not feminine’ and 43 per cent agree that ‘there aren’t many sporting role models for girls’.

Mr Kennedy said that many girls are competitive at sport but that offering a mix of different activities, including dance and in the future access to Mandeville’s new fitness suite, was key.

This view is shared by the faculty leader for PE at the Sir Henry Floyd, Rachel Selby, who said that a survey the school carried out showed 80 per cent of boys and girls enjoyed their PE lessons.

The Floyd offers nearly 20 different activities for its students, including rhythmic gymnastics, aerobics and yoga.

Mrs Selby said: “A girl may have to do hockey but then the next lesson may be rhythmic gymnastics.

“We never have a whole term of any one sport.”

She said the school did have girls with body image issues but that pupils were encouraged to take up sport to achieve the body shape they desired. Mrs Selby added the report was not true in her school’s case but added: “I’m quite blessed with the school I work at – I’m not in an inner-city school with lots of different influences.”