Outside the marginals

a commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010 & 2015 elections

Will schools get a sporting chance?

Last week (BBC News Website 24 November 2010: Cameron and Miliband clash over school sports funding) the Prime Minister was condemning the School Sports Partnership as ineffective because of bureaucracy and the small number of pupils playing competitive sports against other schools.  Perhaps he does not realise:

  • Many schools don’t have the facilities that he had at school.  The Eton College website under “Games” declares:
    • There is a vast range of sports available, from the familiar, like soccer,rugby, hockey, cricket, rowing, athletics, squash, to the less familiar like rackets and fives. There are some games which can only be played at Eton, namely the Wall and Field Games. In all there are nearly 30 different games on offer, all coached by Eton masters and professional coaches.
    • The form of Fives played at Eton is of course Eton Fives.
  • For a sport to be safely and enjoyably taught, trained teachers or professional coaches are essential; not all schools have these.
  • Many schools do not have the emphasis on proving themselves superior to other schools by means of competitive sports.  The website declares:
    • There is a school team for just about every boy who wants to play – this amounts to more than 40 teams on some match days
  • Many schools believe that ensuring pupils are active is more important than “playing games”

Perhaps today’s potential U-turn (BBC News Website 1 December 2010: Cameron orders rethink on school sports cuts) means that belatedly he has realised that the majority have a different experience to his and it is a good idea to enable co-operation so as to give ordinary school pupils a sporting chance that matches even a fraction of the “Games” he experienced.


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