Schoolgirls tickled pink by new PE classes

Amber Reynolds and Charley McCourt are just two of the pupils embracing the new changes

A SCOTS school has introduced trendy Zumba classes in a bid to get more girls doing PE.

In an effort to stop young girls skipping sports classes, teachers a Leith Academy in Edinburgh are now offering the classes, which feature dance moves set to catchy Latin-inspired music.

They have also introduced pink hairdryers and mirrors into the changing rooms and painted the gym pink.

The school claims the new female-friendly measures will allow their female pupils to have enough time to do their hair and make-up after lessons.

Scott Pye, the principal PE teacher at Leith Academy, said the female fitness campaign has been hugely successful so far.

He said: “None of it is rocket science, but it’s simple things that make a difference to girls.”

As part of the new measures, the girls have also been given extra time at the end of each class in order to dry their hair and do their make-up before they go back to class.

They are also encouraged to take part in “same sex” classes for swimming and gymnastics so that they may feel more comfortable when exercising.

Mr Pye said the initiative has boosted extra curricular activity amongst girls through a series of classes after school, including girls swimming groups, cheerleading and girls-only basketball teams.

But Mr Pye said the most noticeable change is in the attitude of the girls taking PE classes during school hours.


He said: “Most classes now have 100% participation. Before, in a class of 20, four or five weren’t taking part. Some of them were opting out because they didn’t feel it was cool or they weren’t motivated.

“They used every single excuse under the sun- they had forgotten their kits, they’d got their period, their kit was in the wash, they’d brought everything except their trainers.

“There’s definitely been a change in that respect.”

But despite the female-friendly improvements being introduced, the school is still failing to meet national guidelines regarding exercise.

According to the guidelines, each pupil should take participate in PE classes for two hours each school week.

Last year, pupils in first to fourth year fell just short of the target, receiving an hour and 45 minutes of PE per week.

And those in fifth to sixth year only received half an hour of exercise.

Mr Pye admitted: “There’s certainly a long way still to go and the national picture is disgraceful, but we are seeing the positives in our school.”

Fourth year pupil Nicole Wright said many of her friends have a new-found enjoyment of PE now that the school has brought in the changes.

The 15-year-old said: “We have got hairdryers and mirrors and now if we have swimming we get to leave early to make sure we have time to dry our hair. That’s quite a big deal for most girls.

“The teachers are a bit more laid back and we don’t have a set uniform for PE now so it makes you want to take part more. Everybody likes doing PE a lot more now.”

LeithAcademy’s Fit for Girls initiative earned it a place in this year’s council achievement awards.

City education leader, Councillor Marilyn MacLaren, said: “It is heartening to see Leith Academy provide an innovative approach, helping to engage the girls, ensuring that they can thoroughly enjoy PE.”