Doctors are calling for a ban on tackling in schools rugby. Alternatives could be safer forms of the game such as tag rugby; or touch rugby which is often played as a mixed-gender or women-only game. Do you think schools should mitigate the risks of injury by adopting safer versions of the game? Should they adopt more female-friendly versions of the sport such as touch rugby?
Part of the problem, I think, is that P.E. is not well taught at primary - and this may well be the case for secondary too. Lots of money is being put into it, but teachers need upskilling. When I trained to be a teacher I was only observed teaching P.E. once and received no formal training at all beyond observing a couple of lessons. However, I am supposed to be able to teach a range of sports to a good stabdard, including gymnastics, dance, netball, handball, hockey and tag rugby, to name but a few.
At the time that I trained -2007/8- lack of attention to teaching P.E. was typical as was seen as unimportant in relation to other curriculum subjects until fairly recently. With changing attitudes towards encouraging personal fitness and government concerns about an obesity crisis, schools are now being asked to ensure every child gets 2 hours P.E. a week and because more money is being pumped in greater attention is being paid to the planning and delivery. Of course, it should always have been the case, but the reality is that primary teachers are being asked to squeeze a 27.5 hour statutory subject allowance into a 25 hour week and something always has to give - and P.E. has been a poor relation for some time. With increased budgets, many schools are beginning to buy in experts, but if the teachers themselves do not have a good grasp of the games / rules I think there is a greater risk of accidents. I have had to learn as I go - imagine a vast field, 30 boisterous students and just one adult with very limited knowledge of the sport and winging it on common sense!
My DH was totally bemused and grumpy about the news yesterday - he was a keen rugby player to county level (prop) and feels that injuries were a minor problem in his day and all part of growing up. Mind you, although he still has a lovely nose and ears, his knees are shot and he has several broken and badly reset fingers ..!
Thanks for your comments Grannycat. I think it's a shame that P.E. in primary schools hasn't had better financial support. My DH was a keen rugby player up to college level, but had to stop because of a series of concussions. However, he doesn't think that changes are necessary. My daughter is a keen club touch rugby player and plays in a mixed team. From what I've seen, it seems to be an interesting fast-moving game. There are tournaments across the country and lots of grass roots support. A couple of my photos from one of those tournaments are attached. I've also included a couple of brilliant videos from last year's O2 Touch Tour. (She was in the winning team at Bath.) The Manchester tour at the Etihad Stadium had 35 teams taking part and generated lots of enthusiasm for the sport. I particularly like the fact that women can participate.
Primary school pupils just love touch rugby, girls as much as boys, I've found. On the other hand a GP doctor friend of my daughter drives her son, mid teens, a good player and very keen, to matches and sits in her car in the car park trying not to cry. She is so aware of what can happen on the pitch.
Granny cat - the primary pupils were fortunate enough to have a player from a good local rugby club to teach touch rugby. I agree that inexperienced teachers could add to the risk, true in any PE really I guess.