City one of worst in Scotland for providing PE in primaries

EDINBURGH'S record in providing PE in primary schools is one of the worst in Scotland.

A new league table compiled by the Scottish Tories puts the Capital right at the bottom of the list of councils managing to meet the Scottish Government's target of two hours' PE a week for every child.

According to the Tories, just 11 out of 92 city primaries were achieving the target in 2008-09 – less than 12 per cent, giving it the lowest figure in Scotland. The average was 35.2 per cent.

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The table was compiled using data obtained under freedom of information legislation from local authorities across the country.

But today the city council said it did not recognise the figure of 11 and claimed its latest audit showed 17 schools providing two hours of PE. That would mean 18.5 per cent of schools meeting the target – still in the bottom four out of the 30 councils which provided information.

The league table shows the city's record on secondary school PE is slightly better, with five out of 23 meeting the two-hour target – 21.7 per cent compared with the average 16.7 per cent.

Scottish Tory education spokeswoman Liz Smith said her party was putting sport and PE at the top of the agenda.

She said: "The SNP Government set a target of a minimum of two hours PE per week for every pupil. Nearly three years into a four-year pledge, our research has shown that this promise is far from being fulfilled. It is our children who lose out.

"Exercise is not just good for the body but for the mind as well. Time spent outside the classroom can boost performance in class."

And the Tories announced plans to set up a Sporting Trust – with Scottish rugby legend Gavin Hastings as ambassador – which will try to attract money from business and other groups to encourage the development of sport in schools and for school-age children.

Mr Hastings said: "We must give every kid an opportunity. The Scottish Government have stated they want two hours of PE, but that is clearly not happening. It's not too much to ask. There are enormous health benefits from PE, and taking kids out for an hour can be good for the rest of the curriculum – they will work better in class."

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The city council said meeting the two-hour target was one of its priorities.

Education convener Marilyne MacLaren said: "Through our major investments in new sports halls, fitness rooms and all- weather pitches alongside a clear focus on targets within our schools, we are making progress.

"There are many sporting figures who already help us in our schools to inspire and motivate our young people and we are offering them opportunities to get active on SVQ courses and outside school hours."

The Scottish Government said many councils were making good progress towards the target, including Midlothian where 80 per cent of schools are delivering two hours of PE.

A spokesman said: "We know that schools around the country are working hard to provide more PE for pupils.

"The Scottish Government, together with our partners in Cosla and local authorities, are committed to young people throughout Scotland receiving two hours' quality PE every week."