One in three primary schools has no sports facilities

Summary

More than one-third of primary schools in Flanders do not have a gym or athletic field, requiring staff to seek facilities elsewhere

“Pressure on teachers”

Some 34% of primary schools in Flanders do not have facilities for physical education (PE) and only 22% have their own athletics field, according to Flemish education minister Hilde Crevits, responding to a request by member of the Flemish parliament Steve Vandenberghe (SP.A).

“This makes it impossible to provide quality PE lessons,” said Vandenberghe. “Students often have to go to sports accommodation outside of school, which costs time that could be spend on PE.”

Inspection figures also show that one-quarter of Flanders’ primary schools cannot provide PE that meets the government’s quality standards. According to Vandenberghe, one of the reasons is that primary schools – unlike to pre-schools – are not obliged to have a specialised PE teacher. “One out of eight schools leave PE to a regular teacher,” said Vandenberghe. “This causes extra work pressure and stress for teachers and reduces the quality of physical education.”

Vandenberghe said that every school should be required to hire a PE teacher and that new schools and those in the process of being renovated should include sports infrastructure.

Crevits, however, said that municipal infrastructure should be shared with schools so that not every primary school needs a separate sports infrastructure. The minister also doesn’t plan to infringe on schools’ freedom in hiring practices when it comes to PE teachers, she said.

Photo: Rob Stevens / KU Leuven