Journalist and Writer
Hilary Wilce specialising in all aspects of education
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The Quandary - 08 May 2008

I am a PE teacher in an inner city school. How do I get reluctant teenage girls moving? Nothing works.

Hillary's Advice

I was going to say: keep looking for something new. If jazz dance hasnít enthused them, then why not try some American cheerleader routines? A number of schools in the UK are enthusiastic about these, and maybe their novelty value Ė and the pom-poms -- would get your girls going.

But then I went to the supermarket and stood behind two girls who were so fat it seemed they wouldnít squeeze through the check-out. And when I started to pay more attention, I found so many others heading the same way. Not tubby or plump girls, not even ones who were quite seriously overweight, but ones who looked as if they were blown up with a bicycle pump and whose pretty features were disappearing into mounds of facial dough.

So I would say this: you have to be a drill sergeant and make your girls move, whether with circuits, brisk walking, dance or whatever. Encouragement wonít do it. If they are sluggish and lethargic, and their bodies full of sugar and fat, they wonít ever want to. And teenage girls have always loathed school games. Itís a long-standing tradition.

Yet these days it is a life and death issue. So make sure your girls have PE kit they feel comfortable with, explain to them why you are doing it, give them masses of feedback and encouragement, but be on their case until they canít hold out any longer. They wonít thank you, but one day their bodies might.