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Schools require GP’s note for pupils to skip PE lessons

Some schools have told pupils they will need a note from a GP to excuse them from PE lessons, a move that has been criticised by GPs.

According to the Mail on Sunday, schools across England are telling pupils that a parent’s note is no longer enough to excuse them from lessons in an attempt to tackle obesity and false sick notes.

For example, the Crispin school in Somerset says on its website that ‘parents/carers are welcome to highlight a particular concern regarding illness or injury that they would like to bring to the PE staff’s attention, although this will not necessarily excuse that pupil from participation.’

It later says: ‘Pupils will only be “excused” from participation where a medical professional has directed so in the form of a medical note.’

The Chalk Hills Academy in Luton confirmed to Pulse that ’unless they have a note from their doctor, we do expect all students to take part in their PE lessons.’

Dr John Cosgrove, RCGP council member and a GP in Birmingham, told Pulse that he questions ‘whether I as a GP would be best-placed to make an assessment of whether a child is fit to exercise. If a parent says they are not, I would be inclined to believe them.’

He added: ‘With the growing workload in general practice and finite resources, it is imperative that we move towards less professional healthcare involvement in the treatment of self-limiting illnesses.’

Since writing notes for school is not a contractual obligation, GPs would be entitled to charge for this, which ‘has the potential to discriminate against those least able to pay, also likely to be those most likely to be unwell,’ according to Dr Cosgrove.