Make sport less competitive to get girls involved, MPs say

The Independent is reporting that  MPs will warn today that PE lessons and an emphasis on competition are putting schoolgirls off participating in sport…

Schools should be more imaginative in the options given to girls, providing them with the chance to do dance, or even rugby, instead of netball and hockey, recommends the Select Committee on Culture Media and Sport.

The committee also suggests journalists and commentators should “refrain from discussing the appearance of sportswomen and from making derogatory comments.”

These are among the conclusions of a report investigating why levels of participation in sport by women are so low compared to men.

“While some enjoy team games or athletics, others would enjoy sampling a wider variety of activities, such as dance or cycling, or non-traditional games for girls like rugby,” it said.

The report’s authors have consulted grass-roots coaches, world champions, politicians and PE teachers, and also concluded that a lack of communication and co-operation between government departments is to blame.

Improving participation in sport was the most important promise made as part of London’s Olympic legacy, and the report concludes that efforts by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport in achieving this are not helped by the Departments for Health and Education not working more closely together to achieve it.

It also criticises the poor level of facilities available in most local communities and raises concerns that “a diminution in the number and quality of sporting facilities will increase the need for more expensive health and social care interventions in a less fit population.”

The greater prize money and coverage on offer to men in elite sport is also a factor, and the report suggests there are “comparatively easy ways in which the media could contribute to reinforcing the view that women’s sport is worthy of interest”.

Currently, only around 30 per cent of women take part in sport once a week, compared to 41 per cent of men…

More at: Make sport less competitive to get girls involved, MPs say


Hmmm – I hope the actual report is a bit more meaningful than the article about it as it sounds like every possible cause for lower participation amongst girls is being thrown against the wall without any real insights being offered. Also, the idea of making sport less competitive is bizarre: surely sport is competition that is physically based? Maybe more opportunities should be offered for girls to be involved in fitness activities that are NOT necessarily sports if the real issue is a health one? That would (largely) remove the competition element – but of course would not impact on the sports participation figures. It looks to me as if more clarity of objectives and thinking is required here. What do you reckon? Please let us know in the comments or via Twitter…


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  1. Addis22

    SchoolsImprove oh hear we ho again! The merry-go-round turns again! Now competition bad – and how is rugby not competitive?

  2. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Schools can’t win: Wilshaw said that sport should be more competitive recently, now MPs are saying it should be less so

  3. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Prize money is different in a sport like tennis as men play a longer (although not necessarily more entertaining) game

  4. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove The main reason male sports get bigger prize money is due, in the main, to TV companies and what they will pay to broadcast

  5. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove With less ever-changing opinion of those in charge trying please everyone, they end up pleasing no-one

  6. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove With regards the lack of facilities, MPs moaning about that is frankly ludicrous as it’s them who insist on selling it off

  7. HughdjNicklin

    SchoolsImprove capitalism is the only system wh works & that’s competitive. What has gender 2 do with it?

  8. SJJones2014

    SchoolsImprove tell Vicky Pendleton, Laura Trott, Katherine Grainger, Zara Phillips, Beth Tweddle, etc that! What a NONSENSE.

  9. DrDickB

    andylutwyche SchoolsImprove wouldn’t it be nice if Gardens was based on evidence rather than opinion or ideology?

  10. TWAHW

    SchoolsImprove my (state educated) children have FAR less time in the school day to do sport than their privately educated parents did. 1/2

  11. DrDickB

    andylutwyche SchoolsImprove wouldn’t it be nice if guidance was based on evidence rather than opinion or ideology?
    “Maybe I’m a dreamer..”

  12. TWAHW

    SchoolsImprove That combined with a lack of money for specialist teachers and good facilities makes it hard to enthuse children, M or F 2/2

  13. lucullus

    SJJones2014 SchoolsImprove Perhaps more appropriately, ‘recognise that sport doesn’t have to be competitive to be fun’ …

  14. MAW1912

    andylutwyche SchoolsImprove As usual, best to ignore them both & do what’s right for our kids. Why do these issues have to be so polarised

  15. wendymaria100

    andylutwyche SchoolsImprove has anyone asked the students or their teachers? No; thought not. Same old, same old

  16. andylutwyche

    DrDickB SchoolsImprove Would be nice. Trouble is, as DfE often show, “evidence” can be manipulated hugely to skew results in your favour

  17. andylutwyche

    MAW1912 SchoolsImprove In an ideal world I’d agree. Trouble is that Ofsted have so much power that DfE blindly accept their judgement

  18. KerryJordanDaus

    andylutwyche SchoolsImprove Neither have a monopoly on truth – research informed policy please?

  19. andylutwyche

    “wendymaria100: andylutwyche SchoolsImprove has anyone asked the students or their teachers? No; thought not. Same old, same old” Quite

  20. SJJones2014

    lucullus SchoolsImprove sport is lots of things to lots of people. should all be able to access & find one 2 suit! 1 size does NOT fit all

  21. andylutwyche

    KerryJordanDaus SchoolsImprove Agreed, the trouble is that DfE are very good a cherry picking “evidence”

  22. SJJones2014

    bsfc_literacy SchoolsImprove indeed. Makes me v cross. Sometimes at gym I compete against myself sometimes I just enjoy.

  23. SJJones2014

    bsfc_literacy SchoolsImprove I did the marathon – clearly I wasn’t going to win. The joy of participating was immense.

  24. willott333

    andylutwyche SchoolsImprove I don’t think this is the answer anyway. For some its a confidence issue of how they may look.

  25. andylutwyche

    willott333 SchoolsImprove You could well be right. Whatever people think, the “solution” will be different for different people

  26. SallyHoward3

    @ PaulSwift. Yes let’s have competition in school sport. Let’s have better choice and better equipment. Let’s remember that good Competition is about beating personal best and personal improvement!
    Sport in school is about ensuring everyone can compete and want to compete not just a few!
    Sports clubs are about competition against others and winners / losers and ranking.
    School sport should not exclude others from improving and improvement any more than learning to read or write is!
    Competition against others in school sports creates one winner and many losers where is the point in that?
    Yes, sport is about healthy body and healthy minds. It must be accessible to everyone in school settings and have equal inclusive status for everyone just like every other aspect of the curriculum.

  27. SallyHoward3

    Practice based research is important so is research based practice. More teachers could get involved in action research. Let’s support that as part of their job description?
    Sports clubs should nurture the talents of the few and lead to great sports people for competitive sports events.
    Schools should nurture the talents of every individual and differentiation is needed here just like any other aspect of the curriculum.

  28. SallyHoward3

    Differentiation of the activity and support given is as necessary in ‘sport’ as any other aspect of the school curriculum. If that requires recognising gender differences then so be it. The utopian aim is for everyone being a winner and everyone being bought to a level of attainment where real choice is there for each person.

  29. HaveringFabians

    SchoolsImprove this is not the most important point in the report, just headine grabbing – you need to work harder this is a serious issue.

  30. HaveringFabians

    SchoolsImprove sport can be competitive at many levels – pitching the elite against the less talented is pointless. Competition against

  31. HaveringFabians

    SchoolsImprove those of similar ability is needed e.g. school B and C teams just as important -& competition against personal achievement

  32. HaveringFabians

    SchoolsImprove The issue of appearance and body image also feature – important self esteem issues here – poor choice of your strapline

  33. DrDickB

    andylutwyche SchoolsImprove Love to see how they spin evid to show need for ‘more competition’.Unaware of any study ever to conclude that!

  34. telkel1

    temcterrier1977 SchoolsImprove looking forwarded to supporting NicolaAdams2012 striving to add a commonwealth title to the collection

  35. AnnHaydonSHS

    Mr_Chas andylutwyche ..need a balance between performance & participation. Need a competitive mindset + investment by sch leaders & govs.

  36. TeamCCPS

    SchoolsImprove Make sport more accessible for girls by improving kit: educating parents on proper sports bras is essential.

  37. minxtwit

    SchoolsImprove sports competitions r gender-separated so make PE in schools the same?But DONT take competition out #girlsarecompetitivetoo

  38. ian_bec

    kevinjamesriley SchoolsImprove sport is competitive. Physical exercise doesn’t have to be. All need the latter, most benefit from former.

  39. MawuAgbo

    kevinjamesriley SchoolsImprove typical British attitude. PC and dumbing down. Yet surprised when we don’t achieve at sport

  40. trisarrrahtops

    Penuardo SchoolsImprove I’m so glad that my future daughter will be able to take part in school sports without breaking a nail.

  41. LauraFLatham

    SchoolsImprove No, just need to employ ‘hot’ PE teachers according to my (v competitive &sporty) daughter. Her school doing well there!

  42. Penuardo

    trisarrrahtops SchoolsImprove Or without having to worry about her hair being out of place with all that silly ‘running’ malarkey.

  43. modoran_mo

    SchoolsImprove I’m all for expanding the range of sports available in schools but what a ridiculous gender stereotype!

  44. edujdw

    SchoolsImprove yes, just look at how uncompetitive the ‘girls’ are at the commonwealth games – what a sexist stereotype.

  45. Mr_Chas

    edujdw SchoolsImprove Independent schools really know how 2 get girls keen on competitive sport. I wish state sector would follow #hockey

  46. Essieburton

    edujdw SchoolsImprove Not again please! What they are suggesting is offered in many schools Since when was rugby not competitive?

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