Teachers and primary school pupils beliefs and expectations concerning school, physical education and lifestyle

Por: I. Bayo e J. Diniz.

Athens 2004: Pre-olympic Congress

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Introduction

Physical Education (P.E.) is part of the Primary School Curriculum but it is frequently underestimated. It is undoubtedly an essential part of Education and fundamental for both the physical development and the implementation of healthy lifestyles in young children.
The focus of this study is teachers and pupils’ beliefs and expectations concerning school and physical activity.

Methods

A total of 1277 fourth-grade pupils (50.7% male and 49.3% female) in Amadora district participated in the study. The highest percentages of respondents were 9 to 10 years old (80%).
Participants (teacher and students) responded to different questionnaires assessing perceived expectations regarding: school; PE status; PE aims; lifestyle related to physical activity.

Results

The survey findings reveal that pupils who have high expectations regarding school considered that "what is learnt at school is interesting" (97.4%); "teacher’s interest is relevant" (96.1%), and "talking and playing during breaks is fun" (94.9%).
Pupils have a positive attitude towards PE since they enjoy "playing with their friends" and they "like the way Teachers teach" (65.4%).
However, the students self-reported physical activity performed both at school and leisure time is worrying.
Moreover only one third of students admit having had PE during the three first years at Primary School, and the majority only do it once a week, which is completely against the Portuguese National Curriculum.
More than half of the students recognize the unquestionable value of PE classes for their healthy development (51.8%), but only a few (36%) recognize the importance of improving motor skills.
For many children at Primary School, the physical activity during PE classes is the only one they do at all, so it is essential to reinforce PE in Portuguese Primary Schools.

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