We need to protect ALL school playing fields from greedy government sponsored developers and two hours a week of sport should be an absolute minimum requirement. This is particularly important in our internet age where youngsters are becoming increasingly sedentary due to the internet, mobile devices and social media.
It is completely typical of the D of E to publish two totally contradictory statements. Firstly saying that they are “putting competitive sport at the heart of the new school curriculum” then stating that regarding a minimum requirement for school sport that “the two-hour target was never a rule. It was an unenforceable aspiration that schools were free to ignore.”
Why can’t it be enforced? Put it in the timetable twice a week!
In my day it was called ‘Games’ which it seems is what the Government is playing with our children’s health, wellbeing and sporting potential!
In a country with a growing population it is difficult to see that any selling off of school sports facilities is justified. Surely schools should be allowed to expand existing facilities through government funding? Obviously there will be some exceptions where schools are closed or moved to a different site but the whole concept of selling any sports fields seems to me to be absolute nonsense. Changing labels to talk of ‘outdoor space’ is just another way to make them fit for sale. If the statistics below are correct then this situation needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency:
..an estimated 10,000 playing fields were disposed of between 1979 and 1997 when the Conservatives were in power.
213 playing fields were approved for sale between 1999 and April 2010, under the last Labour government.
The education secretary had approved the sale of 21 school sports fields in the past two years.
In order for state schools to encourage pupil participation in sport there are two key elements that need to be in place; funding and teacher time. Since the withdrawal of the School Sport Partnership funding, finances are extremely tight.
The present structure of state education is so filled with red tape and bureaucracy it gives teachers precious little time during school hours to devote to extra-curricular activities like sports matches.
In essence teachers need more time and resources to produce future gold medallists!
For anybody who has visited a large private school – as I have (attending a wedding – not as a student) the disparity between facilities and opportunities against state education is vast. The school I visited had two golf courses! This of course is not necessarily typical but it shows clearly that this problem is down almost entirely to funding.
At my school in the West Midlands in the mid eighties the equipment we possessed was woeful – no high jump mat thicker than six inches, only four cricket pads and two bats, one (maybe two) javelins. I could go on.
It was only in a quiet moment years after leaving school that I realised that the four hundred metre track marked out for sports day each year was done by an aging caretaker who definitely did not have the acumen to do it properly – if you think about it, it’s actually very hard. I always thought that running almost sideways around the bends was just not right!
This is down to money – if we want successful sports men and women coming out of state education the government needs to invest heavily. The teachers can only work with what they have.