TEACHERS and unions in East Lancashire have hit back at claims that PE lessons are failing children.

An investigation into the quality of teaching in sports classes was carried out by Ofsted, which found in more than a quarter of schools, PE did not improve pupils’ fitness.

The National Union of Teachers criticised the report, claiming teachers were under pressure to focus on subjects included in the Sats exams.

Simon Jones, Blackburn with Darwen secretary for the union, said: “It seems to me that Ofsted is criticising schools for not doing enough physical education and not producing enough successful sportsmen and women.

“On one hand I totally agree and share those concerns, but the thing that makes my blood boil is that teachers would like to be doing more.

“Over the last 10 years or so they have been bullied into prioritising subjects children have to do for Sats like numeracy and literacy.

“The fact we have an emphasis on those subjects has squeezed out lots of things.”

And Gill Fearns, deputy headteacher at St Mary’s Primary School in Haslingden, said she thought the report’s findings were ‘highly unusual’.

She said: “Lancashire County Council delivers many courses and advises how we should teach sport.

“From my personal experience, I have always felt well-supported.

“But there will always be something to criticise and there is only so much time in the curriculum.

“It is incredibly stretched.”

St Mary’s employs external PE coaches to deliver the recommended two hours of PE per week prescibed by the National Curriculum.

The report was written by Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw who said: “Generally, PE in our schools is in good health, but there are some issues the report highlights as areas for improvement.

“In particular, we found there often wasn’t enough physical, strenuous activity in PE lessons.

“Some teachers talked for too long and pupils were not provided with enough activity to enable them to learn or practise their skills.”

He added that ‘very few schools’ had adapted PE programmes to suit the individual needs of overweight or obese pupils and that primary school teachers lacked specialist knowledge.

Sir Michael recommended that schools should ‘harness the interest and momentum generated by the 2012 London Games’ to create more sportsmen and women.