Girish Mahajan (Editor)

Physical education

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Physical education

Physical education, also known as Phys Ed., PE, Gym or Gym class, and known in many Commonwealth countries as physical training or PT, is an educational course related of maintaining the human body through physical exercises (i.e. calisthenics). It is taken during primary and secondary education and encourages psychomotor learning in a play or movement exploration setting to promote health.



In South Korea, it is mandatory for pupils to take a total of 3 hours of physical education through primary and secondary level schools

In Singapore, pupils from primary school through junior colleges are required to have 2 hours of PE every week, except during examination seasons. Pupils are able to play games like football, badminton, captain ball, and basketball during most sessions. Unorthodox sports such as , fencing, and skateboarding are occasionally played. In more prestigious secondary schools and in junior colleges, sports such as golf, tennis, shooting, and squash are played. A compulsory fitness exam, NAPFA, is conducted in every school once every year to assess the physical fitness of the pupils. Pupils are given a series of fitness tests (Pull-ups/Inclined pull-ups for girls, standing broad jump, sit-ups, sit-and-reach and 1.6 km for primary [10- to 12-year-olds]/2.4 km for secondary and junior college levels [13- to 18-year-olds]). Students are graded by gold, silver, bronze or as fail. NAPFA for pre-enlistees serves as an indicator for an additional 2 months in the country's compulsory national service if they attain bronze or fail.

In Malaysia, pupils from primary schools to secondary schools are expected to do 2 periods or 1 hour of PE throughout the year except a week before examination. In most secondary schools, games like badminton, sepak takraw, football, netball, basketball and tennis are available. Pupils are allowed to bring their own sports equipment to the school with the authorization of the teacher.

In the Philippines, PE is mandatory for all years. Unless, the school gives the option for a student to do the Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme instead for fifth and sixth year. In the Philippines, some schools have integrated martial arts training into their physical education curriculum.

In Indonesia, students ranging from Kindergarten to High School have PE integrated with their curriculum. Kindergarten until Grade 3 of Elementary students have gymnastics, starting from Grade 4 of Elementary School, students will be introduced to traditional martial arts Pencak Silat and some team games such as badminton, tennis, football, futsal, rounders, basketball, etc. Starting from Junior High School, several other games such as basketball, volleyball, cricket, tennis, badminton, kho kho, kabaddi, etc. are played. Several drills and physical training are taught.


In Australia, physical education was first made an important part of the curriculum in Government primary and secondary schools in 1981. The policy was outlined in a Ministerial Statement to the Victorian Legislative Assembly by the Minister for Educational Services, the Fat Norman Lacy MP on 17 September.

North America

In British Columbia, Canada the government has stated in the grade one curriculum that students must participate in physical activity daily five times a week. Also the teacher is responsible for planning Daily Physical Activity (DPA) which is thirty minutes of mild to moderate physical activity a day not including curriculum physical education classes. The curriculum also requires students in grade one to be knowledgeable about healthy living. For example, students must be able to describe benefits of regular exercise, identify healthy choices that require them to be more physically active, and describe importance of choosing healthy food.

Ontario, Canada has a similar procedure in place. On October 6, 2005 in Ontario, Canada the Ontario Ministry of Education (OME) implemented a Daily Physical Activity policy in Elementary Schools, Grades 1-8. This policy requires that all students in Grades 1 to 8, including students with special needs, be provided with opportunities to participate in a minimum of twenty minutes of sustained moderates to vigorous physical activity each school day during instructional time. In the United States, the goal of physical education is to "develop physically literate individuals who have the knowledge, skills and confidence to enjoy a lifetime of healthful physical activity."


In Portugal, pupils from primary school can optionally join PE as an extra-curricular activity. From middle school to secondary school, pupils must participate in PE classes for two hours per week.

In Scotland, P.E. is a government supported requirement of a minimum of two hours of quality P.E. in primary and two periods (50 minutes each) in secondary S1 to S4. Recent funding has ensured most local authorities have employed PE lead officers to support the requirement. In fifth and sixth year, PE is voluntary in that personalisation and choice must be considered.

In England, pupils are expected to do two hours of PE a week in Year 7, 8 and 9 and at least one in year 10 and 11.

subject content:

key stage 1

Pupils should develop fundamental movement skills, become increasingly competent and confident and extend the physical qualities such as agility, balance and coordination, individually as well as with others.Opportunities must be given to participate in competitive (both against self and against others) and co-operative physical activities in progressively challenging situations. Pupils should be taught to:

  • master basic movements including running, jumping, throwing and catching, as well as developing balance, agility and co-ordination, and begin to apply these in a range of activities.
  • participate in team games, developing simple tactics for attacking and defending.
  • perform dances using simple movement patterns.
  • key stage 2

    Pupils should continue apply and also develop a broader range of skills and be promoted to apply in a variety of ways and also link them to make sequences of movement and actions. Also at this stage they should enjoy communicating,collaborating and competing with each other,as well as know how to improve in different physical activities and sports and learn how to evaluate and recognise their own success . Pupils should be taught to:

  • use basic movements including running, jumping, throwing and catching in isolation and in combination, as well as develop the physical abilities, such as, flexibility, strength, technique, control and balance
  • play competitive games, modified where appropriate, and apply basic principles suitable for attacking and defending
  • perform dances using a range of movement patterns
  • take part in outdoor and adventurous activity challenges both individually and within a team
  • compare their performances with previous ones and demonstrate improvement to achieve their personal best
  • Swimming and water safety

    All schools must provide swimming instruction either in key stage 1 or key stage 2. In particular, pupils should be taught to:

  • swim competently, confidently and proficiently over a distance of at least 25 metres
  • use a range of strokes effectively (for example, front crawl, backstroke and breaststroke)
  • perform safe self-rescue in different water-based situations
  • key stage 3

    At this stage pupils should build on and enrich the physical development and skills learned in key stages 1 and 2,becoming more competent, confident and expert.They should understand the principles of how to become more effective and apply those principles on themseves and athers. They should develop interest to get involved in sports and physical activities out of school and for later life and understand and apply the long-term health benefits of physical activity. Pupils should be taught to:

  • use a range of tactics through team and individual games
  • develop their technique and improve their performance in other competitive sports
  • perform dances using advanced dance techniques in a range of dance styles and forms
  • take part in outdoor and adventurous activities which present intellectual and physical challenges learning to work in a team,building on trust,and learn how to solve problems,individually or as a group
  • analyse their performances and demonstrate improvement
  • take part in competitive sports and activities outside school through community links or sports clubs 
  • Key stage 4

    Pupils should tackle complex and demanding physical activities. They should get involved in a range of activities that develops personal fitness and promotes an active, healthy lifestyle. In this key stage the aim is to continue participation in sports and physical activities and to develop a variety of tactics in games. Pupils should be taught to:

  • use and develop a variety of tactics and strategies in team and individual games
  • develop their technique and improve their performance in other competitive sports
  • take part in further outdoor and adventurous activities
  • evaluate their performances
  • continue to take part regularly in competitive sports and activities outside school
  • In Wales, pupils are expected to do two hours of PE a week.

    In Poland, pupils are expected to do at least three hours of PE a week during primary and secondary education. Universities must also organise at least 60 hours of physical education classes at undergraduate courses.

    Physical education trends have developed recently to incorporate a greater variety of activities besides typical sports. Introducing students to activities like bowling, walking/hiking, or frisbee at an early age can help students develop good activity habits that will continue into adulthood. Some teachers have even begun to incorporate stress-reduction techniques such as yoga, deep-breathing and tai chi. Tai chi, an ancient martial arts form focused on slow meditative movements is a relaxation activity with many benefits for students. Studies have shown that tai chi enhances muscular strength and endurance, cardiovascular endurance, and provides many other physical benefits. It also provides psychological benefits such as improving general mental health, concentration, awareness and positive mood. It can be taught to any age student with little or no equipment making it ideal for mixed ability and age classes. Tai chi can easily be incorporated into a holistic learning body and mind unit. Teaching non-traditional sports to students may also provide the necessary motivation for students to increase their activity, and can help students learn about different cultures. For example, while teaching a unit about lacrosse in, for example, the Southwestern United States, students can also learn about the Native American cultures of the Northeastern United States and Eastern Canada, where lacrosse originated. Teaching non-traditional (or non-native) sports provides a great opportunity to integrate academic concepts from other subjects as well (social studies from the example above), which may now be required of many P.E. teachers. The four aspects of P.E. are physical, mental, social, and emotional.

    P.E. is very important to students health and overall well-being. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that over the past three years obesity in children (ages 2–5) and adolescents (ages 12–19) has doubled because of lack of activity and diet. Quality Physical Education programs will benefit the lifestyle of young people and in many cases already has. Good Physical Education programs Provide Structure for students to improve students fitness, positive choices, and setting and reaching goals.

    SHAPE America's National Standards & Grade-Level Outcomes for K-12 Physical Education define what a student should know and be able to do as result of a highly effective physical education program.

    Another trend is the incorporation of health and nutrition to the physical education curriculum. The Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 required that all school districts with a federally funded school meal program develop wellness policies that address nutrition and physical activity. While teaching students sports and movement skills, P.E. teachers are now incorporating short health and nutrition lessons into the curriculum. This is more prevalent at the elementary school level, where students do not have a specific Health class. Recently most elementary schools have specific health classes for students as well as physical education class. With the recent outbreaks of diseases such as swine flu, school districts are making it mandatory for students to learn about practicing good hygiene along with other health topics. Today many states require Physical Education teachers to be certified to teach Health courses. Many colleges and Universities offer both Physical Education and Health as one certification. This push towards health education is beginning in the intermediate level, including lessons on bullying, self-esteem and stress and anger management.

    Research has shown that there is a positive correlation between brain development and exercising.

    Incorporating local indigenous knowledge into physical education can lead to many meaningful experiences and a way of learning about other cultures. For example, by incorporating traditional knowledge from varying indigenous groups from across Canada students can be exposed to many concepts such as holistic learning and the medicine wheel. A unit could be focused on connecting to a place or feeling while outdoors, participating in traditional games, or outdoor environmental education. These types of lesson can easily be integrated into other parts of the curriculum and give Aboriginal students a chance to incorporate their culture in the local school community

    Studies have been done in how physical education can help improve academic achievement. In a 2007 article, researchers found a profound gain in student's English Arts standardized testing students who had 56 hours of physical education in a year compared to like students who had 28 hours of physical education a year.

    In Brazil, the physical education curriculum is designed to allow school pupils a full range of modern opportunities, including sports. They said they offer martial arts classes, like wrestling in the United States, and Pencak Silat in France, Indonesia, and Malaysia, are taught to teach children self-defense and to feel good about themselves. The physical education curriculum is designed to allow students to experience at least a minimum exposure to the following categories of activities: aquatics, conditioning activities, gymnastics, individual/dual sports, team sports, rhythms, and dance.

    In these areas, a planned sequence of learning experiences is designed to support a progression of student development. This allows kids through 6th grade to be introduced to sports, fitness, and teamwork in order to be better prepared for the middle and high school age. In 1975, the United States House of Representatives voted to require school physical education classes include both genders. Some high school and some middle school PE classes are single-sex. Requiring individuals to participate in physical education activities, such as dodge ball, flag football, and other competitive sports remains a controversial subject because of the social impact these have cases physical education programs have been cut.

    Technology use in physical education

    New technology in education is playing a big role in classes. One of the most affordable and effective is a simple video recorder. With the use of a video recorder students can see the mistakes they're making in things such as a throwing motion or swinging form. Studies show that students find this more effective than having someone try to explain what they are doing wrong, and then trying to correct it. Educators also found the use of other technologies such as pedometers and heart rate monitors very successful, using them to make step and heart rate goals for students.

    Other technologies that can be used in a Physical Education setting would include video projectors, GPS and even gaming systems such as Kinect, Wii Fit and Dance Dance Revolution. Projectors can be used to show students things such as proper form or how to play certain games. GPS systems can be used to get students active in an outdoor setting and active exergamescan be used by teachers to show students a good way to stay fit in and out of the classroom setting.

    Another type of technology that is commonly used in Physical Education is the use of pedometers. Pedometers do not necessarily track how far a person is going, but it lets them know the number of steps they are making. It will let them know how many steps on average they are making.


    Physical education Wikipedia

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