School sport policy plans criticised by education select committee

A committee of MPs has warned the government’s flagship school sport policy risks becoming little more than a “gimmick” that will fail to deliver a legacy from the London 2012 Olympics. This is from the Guardian…

The education select committee said that the £150m plan, unveiled earlier this year following an avalanche of criticism about a decision to axe a £162m network of national school sport partnerships, was inadequate on its own and concluded further measures were needed to ensure the legacy from the Games benefitted all children.

“Successive governments have kicked school sport around as a political football, announcing short-term fixes without any sustained vision for the future,” said committee chair Graham Stuart.

“Occasional pump-priming is simply not good enough for something so important. If the government want to capitalise on the legacy of London 2012 it must commit to programmes and funding for the long-term.”

Last week, former London 2012 organising committee chairman turned government legacy ambassador Lord Coe admitted to regret that the debate over school sport became “tribal” during the Games.

Following a furious backlash against the decision of education secretary Michael Gove in December 2010 to cut the £162m national network introduced by Labour, the new primary school focused scheme was announced in March this year

It is funded jointly by the department of culture, media and sport, the department for education and the department for health.

Ringfenced for two years, it awards an average of £9,250 to each school to spend on sport-related activities but there are fears that without sufficient guidance or assistance in spending the money, it will be wasted.

“We are concerned that the government’s primary sport premium — while correctly focussed — is only being given to schools for two years. This is simply not long enough for schools to build a sustained provision,” said Stuart.

“Many head teachers will be struggling to decide how to spend the money most effectively and, if the funding is not extended, there is a risk the primary sport premium will become little more than a gimmick.”

Shadow sports minister Clive Efford said the committee’s conclusions showed that the government had spent the past two years “going backwards”. Shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg said that the government had failed to create a legacy for school sport.

“This government needs to take school sport seriously – they should start with restoring Labour’s requirement that all pupils do a minimum of two hours of sport a week,” he said.

But the government argues that its new school curriculum will ensure that all pupils take part in competitive school sport and says it has committed to ensuring that more primary schools have specialist PE teachers and that all teachers understand its importance.

One of the key problems is that too few primary school teachers feel confident teaching PE and children fail to develop a love of sport or the required levels of physical literacy to enjoy it.

More at:  School sport policy plans criticised by education select committee

This report was trailed in yesterday’s articles but are there any insghts you would like to add? Lord Coe said last week that children’s first experience of sport needs to be positive and it needs to become an everyday part of school life. If the primary dimension is so crucial, what approaches would you suggest schools look at, budgets permitting? Please share in the comments or on twitter… 

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  1. DaveHarrisITE

    SchoolsImprove Gove responds by enforcing an egg and spoon, sack and three legged race in the new NC for PE.

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