Lack of physical education in our primary schools highlights need for functioning Executive, says Egan

Alliance Education Spokesperson Connie Egan MLA has said she is concerned over recent figures suggesting that nearly three quarters of primary school aged children are missing out on adequate physical education.

Education Connie Egan

A recently published report from the Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI) revealed that 74% of primary school children in Northern Ireland are not getting enough access to physical education (PE), despite the Department for Education recommending that children should have access to 2 hours of PE every week.

The report also suggested that the COVID pandemic had a significant impact on PE in schools and children's activity.

“The findings of this report are shocking, but not surprising”, said Connie.

“The significance of adequate access to PE and physical activity in schools to the long-term physical and mental health of pupils cannot be overstated. They are also deeply connected to educational attainment and play a vital role in the holistic education of our young people.

“After a long period of missed educational opportunities due to the pandemic, it’s vital that we don’t waste more time. Our children deserve a well-rounded education that prioritises their well-being, and that includes adequate access to PE. With that in mind, we urgently need to see an Education Minister in post and an Executive in place to make important decisions about our schools.

“Teachers and schools deserve much praise for their hard work during the pandemic and beyond. They need support, direction, and appropriate access to resources from the Department for Education, but without an Education Minister in place it’s difficult to see how issues such as this one will be addressed.

“Alliance have been calling for greater access to PE and improved monitoring of PE access for several years and we will continue to work on ensuring our school children get the opportunities they deserve. As it stands, they are paying the price for our lack of functioning government, and so we are calling for the reform of the institutions, restoration of the Executive, and the appointment of an Education Minister now to address these issues."