Faking illness to get out of a PE lesson used to be a rite of passage, but today's youngsters are putting their parents to shame by loving the subject so much they will not miss it.

The mothers and fathers of the current generation have admitted to feigning colds and injury to get out of the likes of playing football, cross-country running or netball, which often took place in freezing weather or driving rain and sleet.

But a UK-wide poll has found three in four pupils now say they like PE classes, with 25% of those saying they love it. Less than one-quarter (23%) say they do not like the classes.

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Of the 1096 parents who had children questioned for a Youth Sport Trust/Bupa poll, 56% said they had lied to get out of lessons, mainly by feigning illness or a faked note from their mum or dad. Other excuses included forgetting their kit, or simply "bunking off".

Of 700 people aged eight to 15 polled, just under three in 10 (29%) admitted they had avoided taking part in PE. Only 4% said they had "bunked off". One-third of parents said today's lessons were better than in their day.