Suffolk: Kids playing more school sport

MORE than 8,500 extra school pupils are taking part in PE lessons as part of the curriculum in Suffolk - but the figure for the county still lags significantly behind the national average.

MORE than 8,500 extra school pupils are taking part in PE lessons as part of the curriculum in Suffolk - but the figure for the county still lags significantly behind the national average.

Members of the county's Young People's Scrutiny Committee will hear today that the proportion of schoolchildren getting at least two hours' PE every week went up from 65% to 77% between 2007 and 2009.

That means the number getting at least two hours' exercise went up from 60,150 to 68,700.

National the figure went up from 70% to 81% - meaning that the county has closed the gap, but only very marginally despite the increasing numbers exercising.

Now the standard has changed with the government requiring 80% of schoolchildren to get at least three hours PE a week by July 2011.

Last year was the first time that figures for the three-hour PE target were published. In Suffolk 55% of pupils had at least three hours of PE a week during that year. The national average was only 51%.

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Out of school, however, the report shows a more positive view of youngsters' sporting activities in comparison with the national average.

The number of youngsters taking part in a school-based sporting club increased from 38% to 39% while nationally the number involved in school sports clubs increased from 29% to 31%.

Increasing the hours of PE available to schoolchildren ties in with the county's Heathy Ambitions Suffolk programme which aims to reduce childhood obesity, improve the psychological health of children, and improve facilities for young people.

A spokesman for the county council said: 'By the latest measures Suffolk is performing better than the national average (on the three-hour target).

'There is also the question of the quality of PE provision and we are working hard with schools to provide a high quality offer. The County has a dedicated schools adviser team for PE and sport to raise the quality across the board.'

County councillor with responsibility for young people Graham Newman said the fact that more youngsters were doing PE was encouraging - the important thing was also to enthuse them.

'I know some schools get children doing chair exercises at the start of the day and that really gets them going.

'We are now moving up to the three-hour a week target and we are ahead of the national average. There is time to reach the national target and I certain hope we can achieve that by July 2011,' he added.

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