Team games set to be compulsory after 14: Revised national curriculum to end pupils' choice after pressure from sports minister and MPs. Judith Judd reports

Team games are likely to become compulsory for all 14- to 16- year-olds after protests from MPs about their decline.

Government advisers are considering the changes as part of their review of the national curriculum and their recommendations will go to John Patten, the Secretary of State for Education, later this month.

At present, 14-year-olds are allowed to choose two subjects out of games, dance, gym, athletics and outdoor or adventure activities. Games are compulsory until 14 and are given priority over other activities.

Senior government advisers said yesterday that, in practice, 90 per cent of schools were providing team games for over-14s. One said: 'We felt the physical education curriculum should be reviewed to reflect the reality and in the light of the current debate about the place of team games.'

When the national curriculum was introduced five years ago, 14- year-olds were offered a choice because ministers feared they would be put off all physical activity if team games were made compulsory.

However, Mr Patten is under pressure to increase compulsory team games in schools from Iain Sproat, the sports minister, who wants pupils to do one hour's games each day instead of about one hour a week. Mr Sproat says more team games would mean fewer thugs and fitter children.

Dr Barry Cripps, a sports psychologist who works with Britain's Olympic team, said no one should be forced to play competitive team games. 'Competitive games stimulate some children and don't stimulate others. When I was a young teacher we played them after school or on Saturdays. To go back to that would be perfectly acceptable.

'The trouble is that games in our education system are based on the very Victorian idea that if you have girls and boys on the pitch you are stopping them thinking about other things.'

Professor Neil Armstrong, of the physical education research centre at Exeter University, said: 'I am very pro-team games but it would be sad to narrow choice for children at 14. All the evidence shows that there are better ways of helping children to be fit than compulsory team games.

'One of the main objectives of PE at this age is to try and develop an activity that they will continue in later life.'

He said one of the main challenges was to interest more girls in physical activity. 'Research shows that 14- to 16-year-old girls are much more inactive than boys. Team games are not attractive to them. Only 6 per cent of girls play hockey or netball outside school even though they dominate the PE curriculum.'

Studies in America showed that children who were forced to play games were unlikely to do so in their own time.

Peter Lawson, general secretary of the Central Council of Physical Recreation, supported the proposal: 'Team spirit is a fundamentally important part of physical education. The idea that team games should be compulsory is first class.

'But the Government will need to make more time available for compulsory team games or it will be unworkable. By the time you have got the kids changed and on to the field there is no time to do anything.'

Team games dominate PE in schools, according to an inspectors' report published last December. More than half of the PE lessons for 11- to 14-year-olds were in games and, in the summer, two-thirds. There is also after-school sport in many schools.

However, an official at the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority suggested yesterday that there had been a decline in extra- curricular sport after the Government introduced teachers' contracts with fixed hours following the teachers' strikes of the mid-1980s. 'The number of teachers from subjects other than PE involved in after-school sport has declined,' he said.

He said schools should consider links with outside organisations and clubs to ensure pupils have the chance to develop their talents.

The National Union of Teachers said the reluctance of some teachers to undertake more after-school activities was not surprising in view of the ever-increasing workload imposed on them by the Government.

A spokeswoman said: 'If Sir Ron Dearing is bowing to government pressure to make school sport compulsory that would be a very sad development. Today it is sport. Tomorrow, it will be on the content of other areas of the curriculum.'

Leading article, page 15

(Photograph omitted)

Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
premier league
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
people'I hated him during those times'
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
Dame Vivienne Westwood has been raging pretty much all of her life
peopleMemoir extracts show iconic designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Life and Style
fashionAlexander Fury's Spring/Summer 2015 London Fashion Week roundup
Arts and Entertainment
Lauryn Hill performing at the O2 Brixton Academy last night
musicSinger was more than 90 minutes late on stage in Brixton show
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
people''Women's rights is too often synonymous with man-hating'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of Marketing and Communications - London - up to £80,000

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam