Fitness Plan Cuts Into Learning Time

[u]Fitness plan may cut into learning time[/u]
By Darrell Giles and Hannah Martin
TEACHERS fear students’ literacy and numeracy could suffer as they are forced to implement the State Government’s new compulsory daily fitness program.

Smart Moves - aimed at combating child obesity and making youngsters healthier - will begin when Queensland schools go back on January 29 and will be fully up and running by July.

Under the program, primary students will be required to take part in moderate physical activity for 30 minutes a day. In secondary schools, the requirement is a minimum two hours a week.

Queensland Teachers Union president Steve Ryan said teachers supported the concept, but did not like the compulsory aspect of Smart Moves.

“We have objected strongly to the mandating of 30 minutes a day, even though we are in total agreement with the thinking behind it,” Mr Ryan said.

“We believe that schools should have the flexibility to decide when they should do it … that it should be accumulative rather than at a particular time of the day, every day.” Education Minister Rod Welford said the program was designed to address the “epidemic of obesity in our community”.

“The 2006 Healthy Kids Queensland Survey showed that one in five Queensland children is overweight or obese,” he said.

Mr Ryan said administrators would be put to the test in determining the 2008 curriculum. “What do they leave out and what do they fit in? … schools do not have a lot of spare time up their sleeves.”

But the prospect of daily exercise classes when school reopens is a hit among some students. Grace McKeller, 13, and Darcy Holloway, 12, are members of the Queensland under-12 girls’ cricket team which recently won the national school sports competition.

They said plenty of their schoolfriends would prefer to be on an oval rather than inside a classroom.

While they admit not all students will be willing participants in the Government’s Smart Moves program, they said a little nudge in the right direction wouldn’t hurt anyone.