Physical education is a compulsory subject at school but is commonly perceived as being less important than other subjects, according to a new Commission report on sport education in 30 European countries.
The surveyed countries (25 EU Member States and Croatia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Turkey) tend to agree on the main aims of physical education: fostering children’s immediate and life-long -physical, personal and social development as well as promoting a healthy lifestyle. Among the mandatory physical education activities in schools, ball games are the most common, followed by gymnastics. Although European countries promote the value of physical education and sport in schools, large discrepancies exist in the recommended annual taught time. For example, during the 2011/12 school year, the recommended minimum average taught time at primary level varied between 37 hours in Ireland and 108 hours in France. In addition, the share of taught time recommended for physical education is rather low compared to that of other subjects across all countries.
The report covers primary and lower secondary education and provides an insight into the following topics: national strategies and large-scale initiatives, the status of physical education in national curricula and steering documents, recommended annual taught time, pupil assessment, teacher education, extracurricular activities and planned reforms. The report is the result of an in-depth analysis of primary data provided by Eurydice national units and is the first attempt by the European Commission to map the state of play of physical education at schools across European countries.