Following on from the article I read and blogged about last week, I (with the help of a colleague) put together a questionnaire to give to all the girl’s in the school during their PE lessons. The questionnaire was to gauge their interest in PE, if they like competition, their most and least favourite activities and to see their opinion on health. I also added questions I thought would be relevant to find out, such as rating their personal level of fitness and if they smoked.
As a department, we started rolling it out today with 3 ‘halves’ of the year in year 8, 9 and 10. Some of the responses have been really interesting and have really got me thinking about what goes through a child’s mind. Bare in mind these are early figures but of the 119 pupils asked 60% said they wanted to improve their health, of these 36% specified their fitness and 29% commented on either losing weight or toning up. This figure got higher with their year group which I found interesting. So as they go higher up the school the more they worry about their weight. Some of the comments were also pretty shocking. Many of the girls are unhappy with their weight and therefore don’t try as hard.
Not only this, 62% were more interested in how they looked after PE so they didn’t participate fully. Lots of them commented on ruining their hair or make up, and looking red or sweaty. I completely understand if they feel uncomfortable after exercising and emphasise with them but they do have access to a shower if they need it. Linking these answers together, I wonder how many girls want to improve their fitness yet don’t want to ‘ruin their hair or make up’. I think us as human beings care less about what we look like when we exercise as we get older, it’s natural and if we want to lead a healthy lifestyle then exercise is a necessity. I question what it is that is making girls think like this, media? Boys? Their role models? There is so much debate at the moment on the ‘obesity epidemic’, as a nation something needs to be done. One school survey isn’t going to make a difference, maybe all schools should do it to see how their children fair. It’s all good and well them saying they want to improve, but they need to get off their backsides and make an effort. Maybe as teachers we need to spend more time talking about individuality and developing a ‘thicker skin’. Or parents making more of an effort to help their child exercise. Even do it with them. Who knows!
It will be interesting to collate all the data and get an overall picture. The problem is, the government want to improve health and save money, yet education in schools is so progress and ofsted led that it’s sometimes too busy to focus on all of this. Surely a child improving their health is a child making progress. Not only in school but learning how to lead a healthy lifestyle when they leave school. I really want to give the pupils a positive experience in PE, to motivate them to exercise outside of school and think about the food they are putting into their bodies. To think about the bigger picture. The curriculum is changing soon, maybe we need more fitness and nutrition and less of the ‘traditional’ games or more on improving their confidence and having a better opinion of themselves. Perhaps this could help them lead a healthier lifestyle. It should’t just be down to us as teachers to help improve their fitness in only 2 PE lessons a week, it needs to start with the people who have the biggest influence on children.