From the upcoming school year (2023-2024), primary schools must provide two lessons of PE per week. But because there are not enough gymnasiums everywhere, children will increasingly receive lessons outside the gymnasium. This can be in a swimming pool or outside in the schoolyard. But that’s where the inspection comes in.
In 2020, the law was passed that obliges schools to teach two hours of PE to students in primary schools. In November, one third of the municipalities still foresaw bottlenecks in accommodating all school classes in gymnasiums for that time, according to research among 172 municipalities by the Women’s Institute. Large cities in particular suffer from a lack of space.
André de Jeu of the Association of Sports and Municipalities (VNG) encourages primary schools to think creatively in the face of a lack of sufficient gymnasiums. “To schools struggling to find a gym, I would say, ‘Buy a compass and circle the school a mile.’ There are wonderful examples of the emergence of gym classes outside the traditional gym.”
This can be on the schoolyard, but according to De Jeu, sports fields and swimming pools are also suitable. “If it starts to rain, the children can always go to the canteen.”
Inspectorate also monitors gym class
The Royal Association for Physical Education (KVLO) already sees the demand for outdoor education increasing. According to director Cees Klaassen, this should not be a problem, certainly not in the warmer seasons. “Although a gymnasium is of course preferred,” says Klaassen.
Gym classes must also meet a number of requirements, the KVLO director emphasizes. According to him, it is important for safety that PE teachers know the location well. “Children can hurt their ankles on a poorly maintained sports field. In the end, the Education Inspectorate is also watching.”
Municipalities are responsible for educational accommodation and sports facilities. Only a minority (28 percent) of the municipalities surveyed that saw bottlenecks in November wanted to build additional sports locations.
The municipalities see other solutions for the shortage, such as alternative sports locations. Schools could also use sports halls that are further away. This distance could be bridged with student transport, municipalities said.