Life Style

Physical education or sport, the school dilemma

The French education system is one of those which devotes the most time to sports activities at school in Europe: three hours in primary, four hours in 6e, then three hours until the end of college, and two hours in high school. Discipline represents about 13% of school time, almost twice as much as in some of our neighbors.

However, notes the Court of Auditors in a report published in 2019, “Our school organization does not integrate the practice of sport as such into its programs with the same degree of intensity as other European states. It has always followed, pursues institution, there is some doubt that the French school is a place of learning sports disciplines. “

The verdict is sharp. Wouldn’t the activity practiced at school be sport? ” It’s a little complicated, recognizes Julien Fuchs, lecturer at the University of Brest. In France, we consider that sport, in itself, is not educational and we practice Physical and Sports Education (EPS), a discipline that is based on sport, but treats it in a didactic way to make a school subject “. In the land of Descartes, it was therefore necessary to “intellectualize” him to allow him to enter school. Thus, should the EPS allow “The appropriation of a physical, sporting and artistic culture in a critical, responsible, lucid and civic manner”.

Gymnastics at school, sport in elite high schools

“Elsewhere, we ask ourselves fewer questions, continues Julien Fuchs. We practice sports at school as we do in a club. This is particularly the case in England and the United States, but the history of the sports movement is also older there. In France, when the State decided to introduce gymnastics in school, in 1880, club sport is still in its infancy , says historian Thierry Terret. The only reference is military gymnastics, the primary objective of which is to learn to obey and to train citizen soldiers. “

→ READ. Developing sport to reduce dropping out of school

It was not until the end of the First World War that this gymnastics “alignment” made room for outdoor games, and only for the older ones. “It is then a question of opening the pupils to exercises which are good for health, but it is still not sport”, specifies Thierry Terret. This one is only practiced in high schools and universities, through the ancestor of the UNSS (the National Union of School Sport), and becomes the prerogative of an elite, thanks, in particular, to Baron Pierre de Coubertin .

With the Cold War, which stimulates competition, “French sport will experience its Copernican Revolution”, analyzes the specialist. In a decade (1960-1970), the National Education took over the discipline, but no question of doing the same thing as in a club: “At the École de la République, we welcome all students and the objective is not the search for performance. “

A difference of views between school and the sports world

Paradoxically, this advance weakens the status of teachers at a time when sport is becoming more democratic. If anyone can make them, what are they for? From then on, they will want “Demonstrate at all costs and, even in a heavy way, the specificity of physical education through sport, notes the historian. This is the ferment of the tensions that we still know today and which will result in particular in the establishment of different programs in the Creps (Centers of resources, expertise and sports performance) and what will become the UFR Staps. “

Will the recent rapprochement between the ministries of national education and that of sports put an end to these “Differences of vision” which undermine sports activity at school, according to the Court of Auditors? On October 5, Jean-Michel Blanquer and Roxana Maracineanu launched “The main priorities for sport” in the perspective of the 2024 Olympic Games, with the objective of “Strengthen the place of sport at school” creating “More gateways” with “The associative world .

The two ministers want to strengthen the two priority sports learning – learning to swim and knowing how to ride a bike -; encourage daily physical activity of 30 minutes in primary; encourage the organization of school time with lessons in the morning, EPS and sports in the afternoon, or even deploy the Generation 2024 label to strengthen the school and club sports offer.

Primary school hours are not always provided

There is a lot of recycling, comments Benoît Hubert, PE teacher and national secretary of Snep-Fsu. The only novelty is the creation of an EPS specialty at the bac. But the proposal still needs to be validated by a steering committee. As for the 30 minutes of daily physical activity in primary school, why not, if it is in addition to the three hours of weekly PE, but there must be a defined framework. “ Thierry Terret believes, for his part, that “This measure does not rely enough on sport and goes against the trend observed for a century.

The simple “incentive” to practice 30 minutes of daily physical activity may not be enough to convince teachers who already have difficulty in providing the three hours of compulsory EPS in primary, according to the Court of Auditors. In their defense, pleads Guislaine David, departmental secretary of SNUipp-FSU, “They have very little training in this discipline. Without counting that there is sometimes a lack of gymnasiums, swimming pools, the slots of which are also often reserved for the older ones, and even a lack of equipment within the establishments. Result: some primary schools use sports educators, even if the latter “Do not always remain within the framework of the school program”, she laments.

Young people have lost 25% of cardiovascular capacity

Collaborations between the educational world and the federations sometimes also take place within school sports associations. But they remain marginal, emphasizes Julien Fuchs. For there to be more exchanges, teachers should no longer be afraid of being replaced by animators.

→ EXPLANATION. How to get young people back to sport?

Reconciliation between these two worlds is however crucial in the face of public health issues. In 40 years, young people have lost nearly 33% of their cardiovascular capacities worldwide (25% in France), according to an Australian study. Today, children and adolescents do not exercise enough, warns Professor François Carré, cardiologist and member of the French Federation of Cardiology. Nearly 95% of them do not follow the recommendations of the WHO, which advises one hour of physical activity per day. If we do nothing, it’s a time bomb ”, he warns.


School sport

2,700,000 graduated students in school sports federations:

1,050,000 at the UNSS (National Union of School Sports), 850,000 at the USEP (Sports Union for Primary Education) and 800,000 at the UGSEL (General Sports Union for Free Education)

♦ 3,713 school sports sections for 80,000 pupils.

♦ 32 agreements signed by the Ministry of National Education, Youth and Sports, USEP, UNSS and UGSEL with sports federations.


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