Early syllabuses of Physical training

Due to the problems and concerns over the model course, the Board of Education established a syllabus of physical training in 1904, 1909, 1919, 1927 and 1933. They stressed the physical and educational side to sport. The physical side would have been very much influenced by their primary concern for the medical and physiological base from which they approached the subject. As such the therapeutic effect, the correction of posture faults, and exercises to improve the circulatory systems would have been foremost in their aims.

The educational aims would try to develop alertness and decision-making. Why was the provision in elementary schools different from that in public schools? Before 1870 the education of those who could not afford a private education was the responsibility of the church. The Forster Education Act of 1870 created a state system of education. The two main principles of state education were that there would be efficient schools throughout the United Kingdom and that there would be compulsory provision of such schools where needed.

The experiences of children at state schools were very different to the experiences of those from upper class families who attended public schools. In contrast to public schools, state schools were small buildings in towns with little space and no recreational facilities. This clearly placed restrictions on the sporting activities that could be offered to the working class. Whilst the sons of the gentry were taking part in regulated physical activities such as cricket and rugby, gymnastics formed the basis of early state school exercise.

Foreign influences, in the form of Swedish and German gymnastics, combined with the English style under Archibald Maclaren. The schools boards tended to favour the Swedish system for its free flowing, free standing exercises possibly due to the inspectors. In the1870s Drill was developed for boys and girls. This was taught by NCOs from the army. By 1890 some of this course was being taught by teachers In 1902 the Model Course was instituted by colonel Fox of the war office.

It was introduced as a result of the lack of fitness and discipline and the general health that the working class showed during the Boer War. It was felt that this was a consequence of inadequate physical training at school. The aims of the model course were to improve the fitness of the working classes for military preparation, increase their familiarity with combat and weapons and to improve discipline and obedience amongst the working classes. Drill was characterised by commands given by the teacher or non commissioned officers to the children who would be standing in uniform military style rows.

Large numbers could be catered for in a small space, and as the movements were free-standing and required no apparatus, they were cheap. After 1873 boys and girls in elementary schools received drill. This however did not go in public schools. The 1902 model course soon came under attack, as it did not take into account the educational aspect that should be the purpose of physical training in schools. It had children doing exercises that were designed for adults.

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