Should competitive school sports be compulsory?

All primary school children in England will be required to play competitive sports, the Prime Minister David Cameron has said. The announcement comes in the wake of the very successful London 2012 Olympic Games. Team GB’s sporting brilliance at the Olympics and Paralympics should be harnessed to inspire the next generation, most stakeholders agree. The Labour leader Ed Miliband and Shadow Olympics Secretary Tessa Jowell have called for a cross party 10 year plan to boost competitive sports in school.

A recent Government survey of 10,000 schools revealed that less than 50% of students participate in competitive sports. To rectify this situation, the coalition government will unveil a new curriculum in the autumn, to make competitive sports participation a compulsory requirement.

“Now the London Olympics and Paralympics have been a great success, we need to use the inspiration of the Games to get children playing sport more regularly,” Cameron said. “I want to use the example of competitive sport at the Olympics to lead a revival of competitive sport in primary schools.”

Under the Government’s new curriculum, primary pupils will be required to participate in sports such as football, hockey, netball etc.

More than 350,000 children will lose their free school meals under the Government’s radical plans to reform welfare entitlement next year, an analysis by the Children’s Society has warned. The report argues that the system does not need reform as it estimates that half of all schoolchildren living in poverty are missing out on free school meals.

Over the coming months the Government will consult on the future of free school meals. The planned introduction of Universal Credit means that a completely new system of entitlement needs to be put into place in the next year.

At the moment lone parents working 16 or more hours a weeks (or normally 24 hours a week for a couple) are not eligible for free school meals – no matter how little they earn.

Six out of ten parents say that free school meal eligibility has a direct impact on their decision to move back into work, or work more hours.

The Children’s Society are urging ministers to listen – not just to them and other professional bodies – but to the voices of the vast majority of adults up and down the country, who know the huge difference extending entitlement will make to the lives their neighbours, friends – or even themselves.

By being third in the medals table under the likes of China and USA, demonstrates that the system we have here is working. Sport is important to schools as is competition and it’s worth pointing out that our overall participation in sport in Merseyside has increased since 2005 from 19.6% to 22.4%, as it has increased nationally. National Lottery funding has brought £150 million of additional money into the Olympic legacy programme which has built new facilities, attracted new volunteers and provided additional sports opportunities for young people. If this continues, the London 2012 effect should last well into Rio 2016 and beyond.

Calum Donnelly, sports development manager for Merseyside Sports Partnership.

In 2005 London won the right to host the Olympic Games under the then Labour Government. This was an opportunity to put sport at the heart of health education and social policy. The Schools Sports Partnership Funding runs out in 2013 and the money to release Specialist P.E teachers to work in primary schools is also due to run out. Both competitive sport and exercise have their place in the school curriculum. Both need time money and expertise at both primary and secondary level. Many of Britain’s sports facilities are old, tired and underfunded and are at risk of being further damaged by significant cuts to local authority budgets, Sports minister Hugh Robertson has commented that driving up participation in sport will be “very difficult” and Robertson also commented that “I recognise that poverty and inequality affect participation”. As of April 2012 15.3million people i.e. 35.7% of the population participated in at least 30 minutes of moderately intensive sport once per week. This is the recommended minimum. Exercise is undoubtedly a requirement for youngsters and adults of all ages. The impact of adults and youngsters not exercising is hugely significant in terms of the budget for health. In terms of competitive sport, youngsters and adults like to win. Schools are constantly working to enhance youngsters’ skills in terms of key characteristics such as determination, enthusiasm and commitment.   It is these traits which will give sports teams an advantage and these personal characteristics are ones that we would wish to develop in our school children across all their subjects and in their commitment to pursuing their careers and life chances. The huge reduction in the £162million funding for School Sport Partnerships imposed by the Education Secretary is a massive backward step. We run the risk of being unable to not only secure the legacy of the Olympic Games in London in 2012 but also of a significant reduction in our success in the 2016 Games at Rio.

Dewi Phillips, headteacher, Childwall Sports & Science College

Being one of the best equipped sports schools in the country we understand the importance of a healthy, active lifestyle to a well-balanced education. Competitive sport within schools can help to drive standards and prepare students for the challenges of the working world. However, one of our core aims at KSC is to provide equal opportunities for all. Inclusion lies at the heart of our ethos and above all we place greatest importance on inspiring each individual to achieve beyond their potential regardless of ability.

Baljit Gandhi, principal, Kirkby Sports College

You may also like...