To be fed up with the way it's seen as OK to belittle/tease children who aren't very good at sport

(103 Posts)
Blueskiesandbuttercups Fri 10-May-13 16:46:06

2 of my children like me are dire at sport,all sport, however they love to cycle,hike etc so are fairly fit.

Their lack of sporty ability doesn't bother me in the slightest as they're all bright,doing well academically and are fit however the attitude towards this lack of ability does.

Ds9 is enduring continual teasing at his lack of football ability,he even joined a team to improve (his idea as he's no quitter) however other team members love to tease him and the other bench sitters at school which does zilch to sort out.Dd is ribbed when she comes last(pretty frequent according to her)and her teacher commented on how she had failed to catch a ball all term in front of the whole class, telling her off(we've tried to no avail to improve her ball skills at home).

What annoys me is if children were to go round teasing children who struggle academically or teachers highlighted poor achievement in other areas in front of the whole class there would be uproar.

The constant negativity just makes it worse.

So utterly fed up with it dp told DS to point out to his two football bullies their lack of academic achievement.Ds is a kind boy but he says today he did just that,I'm not happy but am now thinking along the lines of what is good for the goose is good for the gander.


SinisterBuggyMonth Fri 10-May-13 16:51:47


In a parralel universe I think all the kids who were rubbish at art at my school were teased mercilessly.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

kotinka Fri 10-May-13 16:55:30


Blueskiesandbuttercups Fri 10-May-13 16:56:39

I know,me too.

It gets me how those that struggle with maths or English get support,kindness,extra help etc however those that struggle with PE just get made to feel like crap.

BrianCoxandTheTempleofDOOM Fri 10-May-13 16:56:50

I was told I was lazy by my PE teacher. always last to be picked for teams.

Yet outside of school I trained 4 times a week and rowed/coxed competitively (and very successfully!

I just hated having to play netball, the singular most boring sport on the planet, after golf. grin

Scruffey Fri 10-May-13 16:57:33

Very bad of the teacher to chastise your dd in front of the whole class. I would call him/her on that. My ds best friend also unable to catch a ball and the pe teacher spoke to his parents privately about it (they are my friends that's how I know). The child was never humiliated or made to feel he was the worst.

CMOTDibbler Fri 10-May-13 17:03:09

BrianCox - me too! When my crew were in the paper for the medals we picked up for the national championships, my PE teacher actually came up to me and asked if that was really me with a real sneer.

MardyBra Fri 10-May-13 17:05:13

"Yanbu. That's part of the attitude that's left with a lifelong aversion to sport."

Yep. Me too. At least the PE teachers with Hitler-ish tendencies don't let the sporty kids pick the teams any more. I spent years waiting to see if I would be picked last again. At least I was reasonably academic and had other talents. I felt sorry for the kids who struggled with sport and other things.

scratchandsniff Fri 10-May-13 17:06:46


I was rubbish at most sports at school and remember being ridiculed by the teachers and teased by other kids. I used to absolutely dread sports day and get in a right state about it. I wasn't lazy or anything as I was good at swimming and enjoyed horse riding, but was spectacularly shit at athletics, gymnastics and anything involving eye/hand coordination. I remember at primary school we had a nazi of a headteacher and he'd make us jump over a cane balanced between two poles, I always used to knock it off, through nerves half the time I think. He would make an example of me and make me do it over and over again until I didn't knock it off and got the other kids to watch and encourage them to laugh. Horrible horrible man.

I just hope my child does not have to encounter similar when he goes to school. Looking back it really affected my confidence.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Blueskiesandbuttercups Fri 10-May-13 17:10:29

Dd 8 is currently going through hurdles angst ie she's dreading school on PE days in the run up to sports day. sad

I have a hurdles phobia,rem my PE teacher literally screaming at me (and the whole class laughing)as I merrily knocked over every single one.sad

MimiSam Fri 10-May-13 17:15:11

I feel exactly the same and hate the way that sport is given a higher status than other things at school, ie Sports Day (inviting all parents to come and watch the children perform ( in my son's case very poorly). He hates it and I do too. He's great at Art 'though, and Maths -why not invite all parents to come and watch the children paint competitively or do a public Maths competition? No, I thought not - lots of parents would protest at the thought of their child being publicly humilated year after year, but the non-sporty kids have no choice.....

insancerre Fri 10-May-13 17:18:38

Hated sport and PE at school and was never helped or encouraged.
Found out later that I have a lazy eye which means I only have good vision in my right eye, which probably explains why I could never judge distance or speed.
I was also born prematurely and always struggled with running and getting out of breath when doing exercise, probably because I don't have very good lung capacity.

Blueskiesandbuttercups Fri 10-May-13 17:19:38

My dd cries every year.

Every year I've had to leave seeing her crying the other side of the field.Even the nicest girls turn into biatches come Sports Day. Hate,hate,hate it,I only go so she knows I'm there but it's heartbreaking.

I made dp come last year and he was worse than me.grin

grimbletart Fri 10-May-13 17:22:29

It's not just sport though. I cannot sing - tone deaf, can't hold a tune. We used to have singing exams at school and you had to sing solo in front of your class. Cue sniggers, giggles and laughter and comments about foghorns and being able to clear a room. Utter humiliation.

Luckily I was good at sport and academic subjects. And no, I never sniggered at anyone who wasn't good at sport. Just wish they had granted me the same courtesy over my "singing" grin

Shallishanti Fri 10-May-13 17:28:00

it's this kind of thing that put me off sport for life (was always dropping the ball etc) such that now, while I enjoy running and try to run twice a week I cannot consider it sport, much to my family's amusement.
Also agree re the sports days, if you are bad at maths no one expects you to fail in public AND consider it 'fun'

ShatnersBassoon Fri 10-May-13 17:29:35

YANBU. I was absolutely dreadful at most sports when I was at school and dreaded the bi-weekly humiliation of having to take part in things I couldn't do and aim for impossibly high standards. Why the teacher didn't spot that I was struggling and try to help instead of heaping on the humiliation I'll never know. Why are the rules of encouraging success different in PE to those in all other school subjects?

One of my children is shaping up to be as physically able as I was, and even in junior school there's pressure to perform to standards that are unachievable, so it seems that PE hasn't moved on since I left school.

Anyway, I quite enjoy physical activity now. Just don't ask me to do the hurdles in front of a group of teenagers grin

OddBoots Fri 10-May-13 17:35:23

It was like that when I was at school, I was rubbish, I couldn;t even run in a straight line, my arms and legs never went where I 'told' them. I was 30 before I found out that I have spina bifida with a tethered spinal cord.

My son is terrible at sports but he hasn't found the same teasing, thank goodness. He's in a big school where sports is streamed so I think that's what makes the difference.

amothersplaceisinthewrong Fri 10-May-13 17:37:03

Remember, if you can't teach you teach PE.......

MrsBodger Fri 10-May-13 17:39:15

Complain to the school Blueskies. We now have dd no 3 at school and after 9 years of keeping quiet, we finally complained. Hasn't made a huge amount of difference to the way they do things - it's still all about The Team and Winning, and seemingly almost no help for those who struggle, but at least it's a bit better, and now as soon as I so much as clear my throat in the sports teachers' direction they do try to do something to make me shut up and go away, I mean make things better. And dd feels supported. Wish I'd said something years ago.

Abra1d Fri 10-May-13 17:41:07

YANBU one little bit, OP.

And what gets me even more--when you ARE good at it but are constantly left off squads. Witness my daughter: excellent at two unusual athletics disciplines, competes for a club, has competed for the county, won the events in the school sports day last year, but left off the school athletics squad, probably because she doesn't fit the physical stereotypes of how you would look to be good at these sports. Why???

PE departments can be weird little worlds.

BalloonSlayer Fri 10-May-13 17:55:41

Well I'd say YANBU but if you genuinely think children don't "go round teasing children who struggle academically" you are living in cloud cuckoo land.

I'm afraid that children who are academically weak get called all sorts. I don't even want to repeat the sort of things I have heard. sad

My DCs are pretty poor at sport. I remind them that as an adult, I have to compete in a running race, kick a ball or hit a ball with a bat precisely . . . er . . . well that'll be NEVER - but I use my reading and Maths skills every day. That tends to comfort them. But there is no comfort of that kind for the sporty kid who is good enough to shine at school but not good enough to become a professional sportsperson, and not very good academically either.

And now you have encouraged your DCs to tease them? Have you never thought that they might be teasing the brainy kids because the sports field might be the only place they get to feel good at something? Well have a biscuit

thebody Fri 10-May-13 18:00:24

Abra1d, I don't usually advocate having a word with school but that's ridiculous. Do they really know how good your dd is?

It's a shame. Of course all of us have strengths and weaknesses and its great if schools can nurture and celebrate successes in all subjects, art, maths, PE etc.

A good school and a good staff know their children and encourage ALL of them to do their best.

These incidents are no less than nasty bullying from children and teachers alike and should never happen.

ReindeerBollocks Fri 10-May-13 18:02:49

YANBU, DS(8) is very poor at sports. He has EDS and quite small in stature due to a medical condition and malnutrition (medical - I do feed him!).

He gets paired with the girls for running, as they are more of a match for him and he still comes last. He has cried about sports before as he attends quite a sporty school.

He can't even do a few sports due to intravenous devices which puts them out of bounds. He was doing trampolining but was advised to stop due to the EDS. So now he swims. Except he has to miss a third of these lessons due to hospital treatment.

His close friends adore him because he has a great little joker personality. They protect him from being completely ridiculed by the rest of the class.

I hate the emphasis on sports and healthy eating too - DS is on a high calorie diet - yet constantly gets bombarded with information about not eating all of the foods he needs to eat.

I wish I had the time/energy to home school.

ReindeerBollocks Fri 10-May-13 18:05:25

Forgot to mention that DS's school have sports coaches come in to teach their lessons. Which means he gets berated further for his lack of ability. He also always comes last - I've told him to wear this as a badge of pride.

OttilieKnackered Fri 10-May-13 18:09:38

I've always felt strongly (as an acadmeic kid with zero sporting ability) that it was grossly unfair that I was expected to compete and therefore be humiliated in the subject I was worst at. And that what would be termed bullying in any other class was accepted as sportsmanship in PE. It would be the equivalent to making a very poor reader compete in a spelling bee with the really academic kids. Or do competitive sums.

CloudsAndTrees Fri 10-May-13 18:11:14

This is really sad. I don't think it is seen as ok to belittle a lack of sporting ability, this is just the way you have found it at your school and local club.

I have shed a tear before at primary school sports days when children are all there cheering the last child in the races, it is so lovely when they all support each other.

You need to work on finding a sport your dc are good at, there will be one somewhere, it might just be more obscure! My ds was always dire at sports, and still is at school. But he's started fencing and is actually really good at it.

Blueskiesandbuttercups Fri 10-May-13 18:21:54

Balloon my DS is the kindest,gentlest person there is.What gets me is he is very bright and never,ever crows.

There is no excuse for him to be teased,none what so ever.We've mentioned it the coach,school,another parent has mentioned it re their dc and nothing is done about it.

This attitude that PE teasing is ok because the bully(and it is bullying) doing it might not be good at anything else is shit,utterly shit.How is one rule for one and not the other ok,it isn't.

So sorry aside from clobbering said bully not exactly sure what DS is supposed to do except point out the truth.Perhaps the little treasure will pipe down in future.

Aside from anything else dp felt he needed to point out the many things ds is extremely good at in order to stop him feeling shit,it worked and DS came home an awful lot happier.

Catlike Fri 10-May-13 18:23:06


When I was at school, bullying wasn't just condoned in PE lessons, the teachers more or less encouraged it and often led by example.

If my DS turns out to be useless at sports and has to put up with this kind of humiliation too, I'll let him take a sickie on sports days.

Abra1d Fri 10-May-13 18:24:32

thebody we thought they did know that this was her 'thing'--in fact, in one lesson my daughter was asked to demonstrate correct technique.

I have drafted a polite email asking if they could at least give her some feedback on why she wasn't chosen and telling them again what she has accomplished. But my daughter says that I shouldn't send it because I'll be seen as a pushy mother and they will hold it against her. We are mulling it over, but I do feel we need to point out that she is feeling confused and upset.

digerd Fri 10-May-13 18:24:44

I hated all sports, but loved ballet. At 12 I won a scholarship for ballet which meant 2 free classes a week.
I was sent a letter to show my Head teacher that I was not allowed to do any sport, except swimming. I also hated that and got out of it as had to miss my last lesson on a Tuesday to catch the bus to get to the ballet class, and said I would rather catch up on the subject instead of the swimming lesson, which was agreed smile

I was mocked by one girl before then saying" How can you be any good at ballet when you can't even run fast". I told her for ballet you have to graceful, elegant,flexible and poised- not so in

BalloonSlayer Fri 10-May-13 18:31:56

"This attitude that PE teasing is ok because the bully(and it is bullying) doing it might not be good at anything else is shit,utterly shit.How is one rule for one and not the other ok,it isn't."

I totally agree with you. But there is plenty of that sort of thing directed at poor academic performers. When the poor readers have to read aloud and stumble over a simple word, there is sniggering. When a child who is not good at maths gets a simple sum wrong, there is sniggering. A child with an unexpectedly low mark for a piece of work exclaims in shock: "Even xxxx did better than me!!" and everyone smiles. When an academically weak child is asked to work in a group with some others and they all groan.

Of course I sympathise with your DS. My problem is that you seem to think the child making your DS feel bad about sport is some sort of alpha child because of his own sporting prowess whom no one will ever have teased him about his lack of academic prowess. And I am telling you that a) they will have done and b) a lot more often than your DS gets teased. Because sport is usually once or twice a week and reading, writing and maths are every day. And now your DS is doing it as well. Which I think is sad, even though I appreciate the reasons behind it.

Blueskiesandbuttercups Fri 10-May-13 18:39:00

They are grouped 3 ways so I doubt it.

Those poor at sport get no help,are taught in lessons with the very able and have to show their crapness to the whole school and parents every year.

I was a teacher and I don't know any teacher who wouldn't punish/ jump on sniggering re academic achievement.Sadly this doesn't seem to extend to PE and it's wrong.Those suffering the sniggering and teasing for being crap at PE are expected to grow a pair and put up with it.

monsterchild Fri 10-May-13 18:42:52

I if your daughter really struggles to catch a ball have her eyes checked. I could not catch to save my life and it turned out I had an astigmatism. Glasses made a huge difference!
I was terrible at most sports as a kids and come from a very sorry family. Mt teasingcame from my family.

Abra1d Fri 10-May-13 18:43:48

'Those poor at sport get no help,are taught in lessons with the very able and have to show their crapness to the whole school and parents every year.'

Yes. And little help is given them in improving, or in finding things they might actually enjoy and be reasonable at. I was stunned to find that I could get a place in a rowing eight at university (not a very good one, admittedly). I was so proud that someone wanted me in a team, having been told so often how useless I was.

Funnily enough, now I am in my (very) late forties, people often assume that I must have been quite good at sport because I am tall and slim and quite fit.

Blueskiesandbuttercups Fri 10-May-13 18:45:45

I have astigmatism,did get them all checked but no A1 eyesightshock.I was staggered as dp and I are both blind as bats.grin

Will keep checking incase they change though.

It must be genetic as my mother and sister are both dire re ball skills too.

monsterchild Fri 10-May-13 18:47:49

I that should be sporty family. But laughing at me was pretty sorry on their part.

monsterchild Fri 10-May-13 18:50:05

I also became very good at cycling and climbing and more than anyone in my family I go on backpacking trips. But I did hate sports growing up. I'm sorry your kiss are going through this OP.

Midlifecrisisarefun Fri 10-May-13 18:53:17

Not a lot changes..when I was young the only sport I was good at was football..I was derided for it by teachers. 'Girls do NOT play football' was repeatedly drummed in! I wasn't interested in or particularly competent in any other school sport. I was the last to be picked for teams, I hated netball and rounders. I was too slow for athletics, the only 'event' I could do was 'rounders ball throwing! I went to hockey club and was only ever a 'reserve'.
I now play football for a womans' team, I'm the oldest grin there but they don't tease me!! I'm encouraged and effort is celebrated.
My own DC had their own experiences. DS1 is naturally athletic. DS2 was not, the PE teacher at his state school didn't even know who he was, when he left and went to an indie he went from the 4th rugby to 2nd team in a term. He is now 24 and runs and does gym workouts, he still hates 'organised' sport.
DD trained in martial arts out of school, reaching a high standard but was generally overlooked at school. She is now a personal trainer!

Kids are horrible to each other, any weakness will be picked up on whether it is academic/sporting/artistic and exploited.

Kiriwawa Fri 10-May-13 18:53:36

totally agree. once again I'm going to have to take DS off school on sports day. he is so stressed about it and it isn't worth it.

do they have public humiliation reading day? if not, why not?

IrritatingInfinity Fri 10-May-13 18:57:22

When my naturally unsporty son moved country and took up a new sport he was spectacularly bad at it. blush There was a first and second team in the school and my DS trained with the second team. To get an idea of just how sporty the school was, two of the boys in the first team represented the country in the age group.
My DS was never teased, in fact his team mates seemed to really encourage him and they even nominated him for 'man of the match' on occasion. I have to admit that I was surprised teenage boys could be so nice. They played to win but didnt seem to get frustrated if individual players didnt always deliver.
My DS was aware he was a poor player and never pretended he wasn't. He continued to play and practice and became an 'ok' player. he now plays several team sports at University. He loves sports and I think it will always be part of his life.
I sometimes wonder if he would have continued if he had been teased.

specialsubject Fri 10-May-13 19:00:20

my absolute pet hate. I am shocked that it is still ok to be thick as all hell at school, as long as you are good at 'team' sport. ( A massive contradiction in terms)

unfortunately it does seem that the fool of the family still goes into PE teaching, where they give all attention to the good ones and ignore the ones who aren't. Teachers of other subjects who did this would be sacked.

reassure children that the crappy games with balls and the stupid running about are not all there is to exercise and fitness, that you don't have to do it when you leave school and that what goes around comes around - being good at kicking a ball only makes a tiny number of people rich, and few of those are happy too.

BTW I was shit at team sport, but I've done a lot of fun sport things since, and at well below 50 I don't have to work again. Up yours, Miss. :-)

SherbertStraws Fri 10-May-13 19:02:43

I have a deep hatred of sport thanks to all the teasing and being picked last or not at all when I was younger. The way sport and PE is taught is archaic. It seems nothing has changed. Now my dd who initially really enjoyed netball hates it thanks to an over competitive coach and the girls who made her feel bad for being a poor player. And my ds who enjoyed football refuses to go near it again because the boys made him feel so bad for not being a good player. It is heartbreaking

SinisterBuggyMonth Fri 10-May-13 19:27:40

Its bizzare how many of us which hated PE go on to find a beloved sport in adulthood. I detested games, was the slowe runner, could not throw or catch for toffee, was last picked and grumbled at on sports day for my pisspoor relay attempts. However in my late 20's I discovered Ceroc dancing and became totally obsessed by it, dancing 5 nights a week. I was broke, slim and knackered. It was brilliant. I still go now, when I can't get a babysitter. Its a shame PE teacher so dont go beyond throw, catch runder, win when trying to inspire kids to been more active.

IrritatingInfinity Fri 10-May-13 19:46:55

One of the schools my kids went to overseas had a 'sports for fun' after school club for teens. It was popular with boys and girls and was varied and 'fun'. They ran around, played games but didn't actually do technical sports skills.

macreturnofthe Fri 10-May-13 19:48:23

any fool can teach someone with natural ability - it takes a good teacher or coach to teach someone who struggles.

Kiriwawa Fri 10-May-13 19:51:52

I think the thing is, Sinister, that we want to be good at sport. Well, I do anyway. I wish I'd been able to join in at school rather than having been excluded.

I've become a very good skier and I also sail. They're sports that aren't solely reliant on speed and hand/eye/ball coordination but on a lot of other things instead - the ability to make fast decisions, balance, judging angle and speed, assessing conditions etc. I also really enjoy cycling. But the thing for me is that I do none of these competitively.

Sport at school is nearly always competitive. Why?

Oldraver Fri 10-May-13 19:53:42

I was always rubbish and hated sport at school and had quite a few run ins with my PE teacher. I was good at swimming but that wasn't something taken seriously at my school.

When we had Sports Day in reception I heard one of the Mums shouting as her DD was running "Come on x, you can do much better than that". I wanted to lamp her

Shallishanti Fri 10-May-13 19:58:56

See, the problem is that putting kids off sport is a really bad idea for their health and can have a long term impact. School PE should be about encouraging children to find forms of physical activity that they enjoy, and will continue with. For some kids that will be team sports or athletics which is great for them. But for lots of others they are put at risk of a life time of inactivity because school has taught them that they are crap at sport.

marriedinwhiteagain Fri 10-May-13 20:04:28

YANBU - I still bear the emotional scars of being hopeless at sport - the bullying by adult staff and the humiliating comments from peers engendered by them.

DS is very sporty. DD has all of my sporting ability and 30-40 years later has suffered just as much and the humiliating comments appear to be condoned by the PE bitches teachers.

If my dd humiliated girls in the lowest sets with SEN she would be hauled over the coals. Don't really see with the hale and hearty sporty beasts and their lap dog teachers should be allowed to get away with it.

Cherriesarelovely Fri 10-May-13 20:11:48

Yanbu. That is horrible and completely unacceptable. Luckily we don't have that kind of culture at the school where I teach or at Dds school. I think it would be totally demoralising if we did. I was not really sporty at school but I am now. I spend alot of time thinking of sporting activities at school that are particularly inviting for children who don't think they are "good at sport". There are also plenty of sporty activities for children who are competitive and able at sport.

HighJinx Fri 10-May-13 20:49:24

YADNBU - I too had a very bad experience with sports at school.

One PE teacher used to refer to anyone who wasn't 'sporty' as 'the sick, the lame and the lazy'. Bitch.

I can't imagine any other teacher referring to pupils like that.

marriedinwhiteagain Fri 10-May-13 21:32:51

The six of us who were hopeless were referred to as "the drips" in front of all the other girls who then referred to us as "the drips" in the changing rooms. I shall never forget it and I shall never forget you - prize bitch of the PE teachers. You and your sort and your behaviour made my life a misery. And I hope you remember making every girl go through the showers while you had a jolly good look. Not so much hygiene was it; more a little thrill for your underlying tendencies. God it is even more sickening looking back 40 years.

macreturnofthe Fri 10-May-13 21:35:58

Following on from my earlier post....

I have always been sporty but not academic or musical or arty - I still don't understand why people think it is acceptable not to put effort into PE because its something you don't like or naturally excel at. The whole teacher bullying thing aside, I had to do maths, music, art etc all of which I was terrible at (and it was 'made' known that I was) were as skiving PE seems to be OK.

I understand not liking sport - but physical activity it so important for health and the comp. side of things - both winning, loosing and team work is so important - we need great coaches and teachers and parental support like you would give to maths lessons.

can you tell this is a sore point for me ????grin

specialsubject Fri 10-May-13 21:45:32

let's make something positive out of this and list the active stuff that you do and enjoy in adult life despite being put off PE at school.

so far I can see on this thread:


not all of which are pricey. Stick with it kids, it gets better.

BTW I still can't catch or throw despite wearing the right glasses/lenses. Whatever...

marriedinwhiteagain Fri 10-May-13 21:51:36

I do see your point macreturnofthe but I tried my hardest at PE and still couldn't do it and the teacher literally ripped the piss out of those of us who couldn't do it. Admittedly I had no problems with the academic stuff but I don't remember those who couldn't do it actually even attempting the homework and I don't remember the teacher laying into them publicly for not tryig. Neither do I remember other girls ripping it out of the non academic girls. DD has had similar experiences and I imagine if she were to ha ha ha at girls who couldn't do maths she would be severly punished but the girls who ha ha ha the girls who can't do PE don't seem to have any sanction at all. It was ever thus in my experience.

I wouldn't have dreamt of calling the non academic girls "thickos" but the teacher called and encouraged others to call the non sporty girls "drips". Doesn't quite stack for me - do you see this is a sore point for me and sport/pe for me doesn't quite come across as a "team" thing - more a taking the piss thing which is frowned upon in other subjects.

Dededum Fri 10-May-13 21:52:42

My non sporty DS1(11) got hit in the googleys today by a fast cricket ball. The whole class laughed at him and the PE teacher didn't say anything. He was humiliated and came home in a right state.

He hates organised sport.

RonSwanson Fri 10-May-13 22:24:45

it's so depressing that PE still seems to be so awful for so many. What do they teach PE teachers in their training? No other strand of teaching could get away with being so bullish, so ready to humiliate, unable to empathise. They should encourage all children -not just the sportiest- in what is a vital lifeskill.

It makes me so mad that things haven't changed at all.

I love sport now but it took years to get over the awfulness of PE at school.

dementedma Fri 10-May-13 22:31:33

Ds 11 is chubby, academic and hates sports and football. He was recently picked to represent the school in an inter-school maths challenge at the local high school. He enjoyed the day but was a bit down on the evening. O asked what was wrong and he said he hasn't got a McFlurry! Turns out that when the headmaster takes the football team to tournaments, all the players get treated to a McFlurry, win or lose, as a reward for representing the school. He asked if he could have one but was told no. He asked me why one person representing the school in sport could be rewarded, but someone representing the school in maths couldn't be. Because the ability to kick a ball is more important than the ability to compute?

marriedinwhiteagain Fri 10-May-13 22:34:48

dementedma if I could I'd buy your ds a McFlurry every weekend for a year. Talk to the maths department of the head. It is a discriminatory behaviour in my opinion; put it in those terms.

Vatta Fri 10-May-13 22:38:10

Just a tip for anybody whose DC are struggling with team sports and hand-eye coordination: look into dyspraxia (also known as developmental coordination disorder).

A lot of people who are terrible at sport in school end up being diagnosed. Children can get occupational therapy and physiotherapy which can help improve physical skills. Plus if the teachers know there's a specific disability they may be more supportive.

Dyspraxia involves a lot of different problems -sometimes the physical problems are the most obvious, but there may be other (I'd say more important!) problems to do with processing information/planning/sensory overload, so if you have concerns it's worth asking your gp about it.

MeNeedShoes Fri 10-May-13 22:42:05

Demented I would raise that with school, honestly. I know people don't want to be 'that parent' but sometimes schools fall into these little rituals without thinking them through. A polite phone call or letter pointing out that your son successfully represented school would do no harm. All contributions to school life deserve recognition and it needs to be fair across the board.

marriedinwhiteagain Fri 10-May-13 22:45:32

Thanks vatta have thought about that for both me and dd but we can both ride a bike, are both very good at maths, planning, organising, etc.. Although both of us have terrible handwriting and neither of us can dance, neither of us are clumsy and I'm really good at things like sewing and knitting (although dd finds that more challenging but is exceptionally musical and co-ordinated enough to play the flute and the piano) I don't think we are dyspraxic although may be borderline,. I think some people are just crap at sport without actually having a disability and actually I think it's slightly offensive to suggest that if one is crap at sport it must mean they have a disability, mild or otherwise.

YANBU at all. DC's school tries (not sure how well they succeed, TBH) to distinguish between keen-but-inept, and hate-team-sports. The former get to play at their own level and the latter get to do sailing/kayaking /climbing instead.

The maths tram thing is just wrong. They should get the same kudos and the same rewards as sports teams. Did he enjoy it though? DS has done a few maths competitions and really loved them.

marriedinwhiteagain Fri 10-May-13 22:47:19

We can also both ride a horse well and both of us are crack shots (without being able to hit a ball). Neither DH nor DS can shoot like us and they have been or are county level players.

Vatta Fri 10-May-13 22:49:56

Of course some people are just crap at sport without being disabled, I didn't say otherwise!

Several of the people I know who are diagnosed dyspraxics (I work in the field) were terrible at school sport, it is worth considering as an option for people whose DC are struggling, especially if they are athletic (eg good at running) but can't cope with team sports or activities which need more coordination.

marriedinwhiteagain Fri 10-May-13 22:57:07

oh well, we're crap at running too - just slow and lumbering even though we have slim athletic builds!!! Perhaps we're just crap like the PE teachers have said.

marriedinwhiteagain Fri 10-May-13 23:00:41

Oh yes, if one isn't good at something one really must consider a disability. If a child is a bit slow reading or not academically bright does that mean one should seriously considerly when they have special needs or be considered (as it was called in my day) retarded!!! Lovely, not good at sport therefore one has special needs; not very good academically - therefore special needs - Mary Berry would have loved you.

Startail Fri 10-May-13 23:04:00

I'm total delighted that DDs school run two PE streams. Basically sporty and rather more relaxed and light hearted.

Suits my non sporty (hikes, swims, does adventurous hobbies) DD1 and does every lunch time sports club going DD2 perfectly.

Vatta Fri 10-May-13 23:06:14

Marriedinwhiteagain, you seem to be looking for a bun fight but will have no luck here.

I work with dyspraxics, and I know from my training and from speaking to them that many of them were terrible at school sport - in retrospect a lot of their problems should have been picked up on by schools.

I haven't said, or implied, that everybody who is bad at a particular activity must have a disability. For information, that is a long way from my personal views, and I'm not a Mary berry fan.

There's simply no reason for your hostile and rude tone - if you don't feel that dyspraxia is relevant to your family, then don't look into it. Hopefully it will be helpful for somebody else on the thread who may have concerns.

Vatta Fri 10-May-13 23:07:47

Startail, I agree with you on streaming for PE, my school did this for some PE lessons and I think it worked much better.

treaclesoda Fri 10-May-13 23:08:50

I sympathise. I was that person who was last to be picked for a team in PE, and who was repeatedly humiliated and called lazy by the PE teachers.

I was in my 30s before I gathered up the courage to exercise again, as I was afraid it would be like school PE. Turns out I'm not lazy after all, I have trained until my muscles are strong, and I can now run long distances.

In some optimistic corner of my mind, I've been trying to convince myself that school PE isn't like that any more, but I can't help thinking that there are still children being made to hate themselves, all because the type of 'sports' played in school don't come naturally to them.

manicinsomniac Fri 10-May-13 23:31:43

I am absolutely shocked by some of these recent experiences of humiliation of children by adults on the sports field.

When I was at school I can remember instances of it, definitely. But nowadays?!? Appalling.

I think part of the problem is that sport matters so much to children. There seems to be something innate in them that sees talent in sport as the ultimate contributor to being popular and successful. Right up until the age of 15 or so I would genuinely have switched my top set spots in every other subject with my place in the bottom set for sport. I would have taken sporty over clever any day of the week. It was only as an older teen that I stopped thinking it mattered so much.

However, it is totally possible to encourage and develop all children of all abilities and sport is so important. I totally disagree with the idea of letting children off sports day etc and also disagree that it is the only showcased subject. For example, in the school where I work, we have public plays, public speaking, public reciting, public art displays, public dance, public spellathons, public science exhibitions, public technology and engineering shows, public concerts etc etc. All children in the school are involved in almost all the above at some point in their time at the school. Sports day is also a major deal and all children take part. But on their level (eg an A,B and C 200m final for each age group and an A and B long jump competition etc). All the children are celebrated by all the adults and you get just as many housepoints for winning a C final as for winning an A final. Children who come last in races are cheered over the line (I used to think this was patronising but now see it as sweet) and there are so many events going on at once that no child is being watched and singled out by hundreds of eyes or anything. We also have teams and extra sessions for both high and low ability in sport. Sport for all is totally doable (especially so if we can do it as a traditional and massively sports obsessed school).

I wouldn't go so far as to say that children never mock a child for their lack of ability in a subject but certainly not adults. I also think that, for some children, it is a fantastic thing that they have to take part in something they are naturally hopeless at. I have a child in my class who is so gifted and talented in every area - except sport where they are terrible. And it's so good for them because, tbh, they have an ego the size of a small country and I think lack of prowess in one area keeps them grounded. I have another child who struggles massively academically but is brilliant at sport and drama and gains huge amounts of confidence and recognition through those areas.

We need everything to ensure that children see balance and variety and learn that (almost) nobody is good at everything and everybody is good at something.

marriedinwhiteagain Fri 10-May-13 23:45:00

the thing is though manic do you think the sporty child should be allowed to humiliate the non sporty child regardless of talents in other areas? I know the non sporty but academic child would not be allowed to do that to the sport but academic child.

I think for the pre pubescent and pubescent young people to be ridiculed for failing at something physical is far more hurtful than to be ridiculed (which I really don't think happens nearly as much) for being poor at something more cerebral often seems to represent a badge of anti establishment honour. The fact that teachers (PE) jump on the bandwagon disgusts me. I shal be delighted to give one or two of dd's PE a teachers a tongue lashing the day she leaves.

manicinsomniac Fri 10-May-13 23:50:41

married - no, I don't think any child should be permitted to humiliate any other child for any reason at all! Unfortunately, there will always be an element of it because they are children and still learning compassion. But whenever it is witnessed or reported adults should challenge, punish and educate.

I agree that children find it harder to fail at the physical but I think I disagree that they teasing is more likely that with a cerebral failing. I actually think the children I teach are pretty good at encouraging and accepting everybody but the teasing and ridiculing I do know of has been fairly even on boh sides. Children love to find a weakness in another child, whatever it is. It makes them feel more secure in their own failings.

manicinsomniac Fri 10-May-13 23:51:42

* that the teasing is more likely than with a cerebral failing. Sorry, crap typing.

edam Fri 10-May-13 23:55:04

Wow, streaming for PE is such a brilliant idea - why on earth isn't it routine and universal? Would do so much to build confidence amongst kids who aren't naturally talented at the kind of sport they do in schools.

Startail Fri 10-May-13 23:58:18

As Married says it's when the PE teachers and the school ethos jumps on the being sporty is vital band wagon that things get out of hand.

DDs school celebrates sporting success in it's newsletters, but it also celebrates academic, charitable and musical endeavours too.

DD1 sings in both choirs, DD2 plays any sports tournament going. The school ethos appreciates both their efforts in doing activities beyond turning up for lessons, equally.

Snazzynewyear Sat 11-May-13 00:13:31

dementedma that is completely unfair! Demand your son's McFlurry! Seriously, I would definitely speak to the head about it. He may just not have thought of the implications, but as it is he has a pupil good enough to represent the school in an academic event, who is now feeling that his efforts were not worthwhile as they were not recognised.

Agree with the general drift here - I hated PE and always ended up doing the less good stuff as all the cliquey girls got the best events (i.e. 100m where it was all over sooner rather than puffing round 1500m painfully slowly).

DrCoconut Sat 11-May-13 00:48:50

I hated PE and completely disagree that "team" sports are character building or any of the bollocks that is spouted. I truly think that PE should teach healthy lifestyle and offer activity rather than "sport". Walking or even something like gardening where you get out in the fresh air and have an end result would be fab. The vast majority could be engaged and get fitter instead of the select few getting all the glory while the less able are marginalised. Keep the football, netball etc for those that like it. Until chess club is mandatory sports day should not be either.

Darkesteyes Sat 11-May-13 00:59:39

I had the always picked last thing too.
In fact it went a bit further than that. At the end of the choosing teams bit they used to fight over NOT having me on the team
"no you have Dark we had to have her last time" etc.
Both PE teachers knew what was going on and did FUCK ALL.
So i walked out of a PE lesson and refused to take part any more until the teacher sorted out the bullying. (did her fucking job)
A couple of years later the same bastard kids who were treating me like shit asked me to take part in the relay on sports day cos they didnt have enough people to do it.
I wondered why they were asking me if i was so shit at it.
They said they were one short and just needed me to make up the numbers.
So i then said "but you will be moaning and having a go at me if i cant run fast enough"
"oh we wont" they insisted.
Well going by past experience and the way you have treated me in PE lessons i think thats bollocks.
So i refused to do it and to this day im proud that i stood my ground and refused to be used by them!

PaWithABra Sat 11-May-13 01:17:52

I am so glad that our primary encourages non competitive sports and has a participation sports day, after reading this thread..

It was strange at first , and as outr eldest son is naturally athletic it seemed a non issue. It is very good to hear why schools should encourage sports for all and do away with competition.

Darkesteyes Sat 11-May-13 01:32:30

dementedma your son should have got his McFlurry. That is discriminatory and completely sends the wrong message.

Whowouldfardelsbear Sat 11-May-13 04:20:04

Yes to the being picked last for teams

Yes to bullying from the teachers (one even called my friend "fatty" once)

Yes to being made to go through the showers and then having to stand naked and wet in front of the teacher to prove you had showered.

This was the 1980s. Really hoping things are better by the time my DDs start school.

Blueskiesandbuttercups Sat 11-May-13 07:14:58

Sadly Who I don't think they have.

I experienced all that did in the 80s except the fatty comment,'twas 4 eyes instead for me.

Wonder if they taught shower humiliation at teacher training.

Maybe we should start a MN campaign for PE streaming.grin

silverten Sat 11-May-13 09:28:51

PE lessons as I had them were a total waste of time.

No teaching, just got the equipment out and told to get on with it. You were either good at it or not but there was little to no chance of developing any skill at anything. I picked up injuries that will last me a lifetime through being made to do things incorrectly without warming up first.

I was shit at everything we did and just tried to keep my head down most of the time. The one time we did something I liked that I was really trying to be good at, I was told laughingly by the teacher that I as "the most uncoordinated child she'd ever seen". That was the sum total of instruction I received in tennis and predictably I stopped trying to be any better at that as a direct result of her comment.

You will never see me in a gym or doing any sort of exercise class, I've had more than enough of that nonsense to last me a lifetime.

It was only when I discovered cycling at university that I realised what all the attraction of being fit was.

My MIL often comments about my DD learning to catch balls or hop or something, as if that sort of rubbish was actually important. I'll put that nonsense down as hard and as often as I can. No child of mine is going to have to feel bad about not being able to hit a ball with a fucking stupid stick if I've got anything to do with it.

LeonieDeSainteVire Sat 11-May-13 09:36:58

Actually I think a campaign for PE streaming would be a great idea. I have always wondered why they don't do it.

I'm another one for whom PE was mostly ritual humiliation although I also did other physical activities out of school and enjoyed and was good at them so I wasn't against sport in general. I now have one sporty DC and one non sporty DC so I see both sides.

I think streaming would benefit everyone. The able would get to compete and play at their level without having to constantly hang about waiting for others, the less able would hopefully be able to take part in sport in a fun, supportative environment and not be put off sport.

And my message for PE teachers? Not being able to, say, jump on the vault or run round the running track or catch a ball does not mean we are not trying, it just means we find this difficult, if you sneer at our efforts we will not try harder and succeed, we just won't try.

Catlike Sat 11-May-13 09:40:59

I hated PE and completely disagree that "team" sports are character building or any of the bollocks that is spouted. I truly think that PE should teach healthy lifestyle and offer activity rather than "sport".

I couldn't agree with you more. The trouble is, this doesn't sit well with the reactionary anti-PC types, who are probably in the majority.

They will howl about the need for competition, how non competitive sport equals celebration of failure, the need to prepare kids for the real world by making them compete against each other, how character building team sports are, the future of British sport etc, etc. I've seen it many times before.

DumSpiroSpero Sat 11-May-13 09:46:39

YANBU - I was one of those kids and although DD hasn't been teased yet, she's not sporty and I can see it happening at some point. I am actually delaying her joining dance club at the moment - she is big for her age (only a little chubby which we're working on, but tall and big boned) and not terribly coordinated and I am imagining it not going terribly well. Thankfully she has other commitments at the moment which get in the way, so have said she can start in September if she still wants to do it. I want her to have a go but am dreading it.

Re Sports Day and your DD - would you consider just taking her out of school for the day? I think I would if was distressing my DD that much year after year.

Kiriwawa Sat 11-May-13 10:00:18

manicinsomniac - sports day is the only school activity where children have to take part and feel they will be noticed if they are failing, right from the moment they start school.

DS does have some SN (going through a DX at the moment) so I know there are reasons behind his lack of physical prowess. It doesn't stop the whole experience being any less humiliating for him so I will take him out of school for the day on sports day because I want him to know that it doesn't matter

marriedinwhiteagain Sat 11-May-13 10:12:33

The issue for me is that my dd has been told in front of the others to put more effort into it and try harder. She does try but like me can't do it and has come home in tears over that public comment. Further a couple of very sporty girls laugh at her and eyeroll if she is put on their teams; in front of the teacher who sees it and hears it and does nothing.

If the same happened in other subjects the girls would be punished and the staff would be dealt with. PE has not in my opinion moved on since the 70s and it is very very wrong.

I had the last laugh though - I bumped into little Miss Sporty nastiness about six or seven years ago back home. She served me in the supermarket - bingo wings flapping and at least a size 18/20. I was gracious but it was very tempting indeed to ask why. She hadn't kept up with keeping fit and to make a comment about how her adeptness at team work hadn't exactly helped her be successful. But I wasn't a hurtful child at school so I didn't but I think she recognised me and the glow it gave me made me feel ashamed.

Finally, I think I'm going to print this off and send it t dd's PE teacher.

Catlike Sat 11-May-13 10:19:42

Yes to being made to go through the showers and then having to stand naked and wet in front of the teacher to prove you had showered.

That is downright abusive. I really hope children these days have more privacy in their after PE showers. There were NO curtains in mine and at that age, one of my worst nightmares was to be naked in a room full of people.

IrritatingInfinity Sat 11-May-13 10:58:20

I think schools need to operate a 3 tier approach. The groups should be very fluid and DCs able to move groups.

A) Team sports etc - competitive

B) Team sports etc - recreational

C) Healthy FUN activities (this does not mean doing lunges for the entire length of the school field smile )

MrsMook Sat 11-May-13 11:34:52

So many familiar experiences! PE was a catalogue of depressing experiences. I moved house and school at the end of the school year at 7, so was in the school a couple of weeks before sportsday. It would have been useful if the teacher had asked if I could skip before putting me in for a skipping race. After tripping over the blooming thing a few times, I flung it to the ground and stomped to the end in last place. I then had to stomp back to collect the blasted thing.

I was rubbish at running, throwing and catching. The worst years were y7 &8 mixed PE with a foul teacher, who'd shout things like "you're not even trying" above my rasping breath as I hyperventilated my way around the running track. I've been susceptible to knee injuries following a "joke" when the most athletic person in the class thought it would be hilarious to set off on the hurdles too soon and caught up with me on the last one and crashed into me. I was also the last in the team picking where the last 3 were inevitably S, K then me in that order. Once there was an odd number in tennis so rather than being allowed in a 3, I was sent to play against the wall. The wall won.

It got better. In y9 I had a teacher who twigged partway through the year that I couldn't put on being that awful so consistently, and acknowledged that I was at least trying, and bought the kit each time rather than making excuses. In y10 & 11 we got more choices which was much better especially when the fitness suite was built.

All along I did dancing which I wasn't great at, but enjoyed. I learnt to swim at 16- swam 25m for the first time, and within a year could swim a mile. I did my Gold DoE award (the swimming was the physical section). I learnt to ride a bike at 19. I've taken up yoga gone to other fitness classes, go hiking. I've got the last laugh, I'm fit, healthy and can still wear some clothes I had as a teenager (and not look rediculous) Meanwhile the wonders of FB reveal the physical decline of my "superiors" on the sports field.

The other irony is that I've done a lot of PE supply in various schools. There is improvment going on generally- the range of activities is improving, there are more choices particularly for older years, and PE covers other useful areas like coaching, not just teams and competitive attitudes. The old style PE teacher that bought me two hours of misery and humiliation a week is becoming extinct.

manicinsomniac Sat 11-May-13 11:36:09

kiriwara - maybe at the school you have experience of but certainly not at all schools. I have already gien a list of the multiple 'all in' events many schools have where some children shine and others don't and also outlined how sports day can be an inclusive for all experience while still maintaining competitive drive.

And I just don't think it's ok to teach a child that any school subject 'doesn't matter'. It certainly doesn't matter if a child is good or bad at it but, as a subject and an experience, it matters.

jellyandcake Sat 11-May-13 12:06:14

I vividly remember being told age 7 (1990) by the teacher that a boiled cabbage could play rounders better than me. As a painfully shy child, a sport like rounders where everyone is staring at you was torture for me. From that day, I made a conscious decision to never try again in PE - I took the stance that if I publicly hated it and was never seen take an effort then I couldn't be humiliated. By high school, I simply skived PE where possible and hated exercise until adulthood.

What really strikes me now though is that no teacher ever once showed me HOW to play any kind of sport - they never taught techniques or offered strategies to those struggling. As a teacher now myself, this astonishes me! If a child in my class has difficulty grasping something I differentiate the work so they can access it and improve. I can't believe that when it came to PE we were just expected to get on with it.

I never got bullied by other kids though, perhaps because I made it so clear that I didn't care about being crap at PE - I actually did though, just hid it well!

Abra1d Sat 11-May-13 13:22:09

The only thing about streaming is that it would make some children just resign themselves to being in the 'bottom' set. And I wonder if it could make the crowing of some of the very cocky sport ones even more unbearable.

SpecialAgentTattooedQueen Sat 11-May-13 13:29:48

My best mate and I were the two kids in the class who sucked at sport. Both quite slight and slim, my friend received racial abuse for needing a special math class and on top of that? She did poorly at sports? What sort of Asian was she pretending to be?!? angry
Deep Breath... Anyway, we had several sports going on at once and my friend was hit so hard in the face by a baseball her nose was clearly broken in several placeless, bleeding and she was weeping. I ran frantically to Ms Cunty. and you know what she said? "Hang on I'm just explaining to XZY how to properly throw a baseball." I ended up screaming at her and an ambulance came. She didn't dare use us her scapegoats again, even though before the final incident we were literally picked for every demonstration, We always had to start warm ups by running as she knew even as first to start we'd be last to finish. Quit often she's yell things like 'I know the bell went but SpecialAgent and Friend haven't had a go at batting/catting/running/humiliating themselves yet. No one gets to leave until they both do.'

I look back on the woman with actual hatred

IrritatingInfinity Sat 11-May-13 14:01:35

MrsMook. Great post. I bet you are a good PE teacher.

IrritatingInfinity Sat 11-May-13 14:05:45

One of my PE teachers it may have been Ms Cunty used to regularly and publicly tell me off for being pigeon toed shock. I think it may have made me run faster though hmm

ChewingOnLifesGristle Sat 11-May-13 14:16:28

Yaddnbusad It annoys me too. And just because you don't excel at some ghastly school team pe sport doesn't meant to say that you're not good at other activities not covered in PE.

I have dire memories of teams being picked, shouty PE teachers, gobby kids making you feel like shit for not catching something (dd says all this still goes onhmm and suffers as I did).

It's the same with drama. You can't be quietly not good at it. You have to be not good at it in front of everyone else.

If you are hopeless at maths/english etc no-one jeers at you. No-one needs to know. Otoh if you are unfortunately there's not much opportunity to rub everyone's nose in the fact (preferably the ones who make you feel rubbish in PE).

Darkesteyes Sat 11-May-13 17:54:16

OMG How could i have forgotten this. I had a rounders ball hit me smack on the nose when our Miss Cunty insisted on playing rounders in the school gym because it was raining. Luckily it wasnt broken (my nose that is) just a very bad bleed.

Other posters have mentioned that the people who used to be good at sport at school are now at least a size 18/20 Well im currently a size 20 and i was crap at PE. I was called fat at school but looking back on old photos i was curvy rather fat.
I remember going jogging on my own one day one weekend when i was about 14. I got to the top of the next road and bumped into one of the kids who used to take the piss in PE. They started their usual shit so i turned back home and didnt go jogging again.
If i had been encouraged more as a child instead of ridiculed i dont belive i would have been 21 stone by the time i was 28.
I lost ten stone ten years ago but have regained 4 so im trying to lose it again. But i shudder at the thought of jogging or gym or ANY kind of excersise in public. i WONT do it.
Unfortunately i was overweight when i went to my school reunion 2 years ago. I was dreading it but when i got there all they said was "how on earth do you have no lines or wrinkles ( a lot of my school contemperaries have had a life of using sunbeds and Botox.) I hate the sun and have never sunbathed or seen the inside of a tanning salon.
But the problem with schools and PE is the lack of sportsmanship. They dont seem to know how to teach this and it needs to go hand in hand with teaching.
I was good at reading and literature at school and still love books. On my first high school report i was praised for helping a friend who was weaker at this than me. But this was just in writing so the only people who got to see this was me and my parents.
Everyone got to see my humiliation on the sports field though.

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