Michael Gove has issued guidance for giving out “traditional punishments” for pupils’ misbehaviour. It reads "when poor behaviour is identified, sanctions should be implemented". One of these sanctions is physical activity like running round a school playing field.
As a father, school governor and keen runner, I was shocked to find out about this guidance suggesting an outdated form of punishment. It sends the wrong message that physical activity, in particular running, is a negative action and not something to enjoy rather than something that ensures a healthy mind and body.
We all agree that there should be punishment within schools for ill-fitting behaviour, but it is staggering to include running as a sanction given the obesity issues and lack of physical activity participation we now have in the UK.
There has been widespread derision for the guidance for many in sport and education. As reported by Athletics Weekly, Brendan Foster, a former teacher, world record-holder and creator of the Great North Run, said "It’s a step back,” and accused the Government of "demonising’ running." "For years we’ve told people running is enjoyable and beneficial to health. Now Mr Gove has sent a message it’s bad – a punishment on a par with picking up litter or doing 100 lines."
Chrissie Wellington, the ironman triathlon legend, wrote on her website: “Using physical activity as a punishment is outdated and inappropriate. It will entrench lasting fear and loathing for sport amongst children and young people, running the risk that they will carry negative attitude to physical activity throughout their lives." She added: “Physical activity is a joy, a pleasure: something to be embraced and welcomed. We need the next generation to grow up wanting to be active. We need school staff, parents and children to view running around the school field (if they haven’t been sold off) as a pleasure, rather than a punishment.”
Paula Radcliffe, summed things up perfectly by saying “It is totally ridiculous!”
I am not anti-Government nor anti-Michael Gove, instead, I only want to see a sensible approach taken that is not detrimental to our children's futures.
Let's get the Department for Education and Michael Gove to see sense and remove physical activity from their guidance for punishing pupils.
- Michael Gove
To remove guidance to teachers that states that "extra physical activity such as running around a playing field” should be used as punishment in UK schools.
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