The SNP Government has been accused of giving up on its manifesto pledge to provide at least two hours of physical education to children in school each week.
The attack from Labour’s spokesman on sport, Bill Butler, comes following news a few weeks ago that since the SNP came to power in 2007, just 35 per cent of primary schools and 23 per cent of secondary schools have met the target, with none having reached it in first minister Alex Salmond’s local authority, Aberdeenshire.
Furthermore, in a written Parliamentary answer earlier in the month, Education Secretary, Michael Russell admitted:
“The Scottish Government has not routinely collected detailed statistics on the provision of PE in schools either before or since the one-off compilation of statistics in 2005.”
In his stinging attack on the Government’s failure to meet the target, Butler concluded:
“It is now clear that the SNP never had the slightest intention of fulfilling this manifesto pledge. Ministers could not have been serious about the implementation of that policy promise when they did not even bother to ask for it to be properly monitored and evaluated.
“Once again, the electorate is offered only the rather sorry spectacle of Mike Russell delivering a note asking to be excused from the SNP’s PE pledge.”
Butler’s accusation comes just over a year after the Scottish Parliament health and sport committee described as a “lamentable failure” the Government’s efforts to meet its PE target. At the time, SNP MSP and convenor of the committee, Christine Grahame, concluded:
“We know that active children are more likely to do well at school so more PE in the curriculum is likely to produce educational benefits. Unfortunately, the target of ensuring that all school pupils received two hours’ PE by 2008 was completely missed.
“We believe that the Scottish Government, directors of education and individual head teachers all need to raise their game to ensure that the target can be met by the new date of August 2010.”
The latest attack will be of particular embarrassment to the Scottish Government just two years away from London staging the Olympics and with Glasgow due to host the Commonwealth Games in 2014. Butler continued:
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“With the 2014 Commonwealth Games placing Scotland on the global sporting stage it is hugely disappointing that the SNP continues to fail to recognise the importance of PE in our schools, which is key to the development of our children’s sporting potential.”