School competitive team sports move unveiled

Competitive team sports will be made compulsory for all primary school children in England, Prime Minister David Cameron has said.

A draft new curriculum this autumn would require participation in sports such as football, hockey and netball.

Mr Cameron has been urged to set out how he intends to secure a sporting legacy from the London 2012 Olympics.

Labour leader Ed Miliband has called on political parties to work together on a 10-year plan to boost sports activity.

‘Recognisable sports’

The prime minister has pointed to a £1bn fund for youth sport, but the government has been criticised for scrapping a target of two hours physical education a week for school children.

London Mayor Boris Johnson has called for two hours a day of compulsory sport.

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“Now the London Olympics has been a great success, we need to use the inspiration of the Games to get children playing sport more regularly”

David Cameron Prime Minister

Mr Cameron said earlier this week schools often saw the two-hour target as a maximum and told the BBC that Indian dance was being counted as physical education.

On Saturday he said the national curriculum for primary schools in England would be rewritten with an explicit reference to competitive team sports.

The new curriculum will make it compulsory to take part in “recognised and recognisable sports” and will set out requirements for “team outdoor and adventurous activity”.

Mr Cameron said: “The idea of an Olympics legacy has been built into the DNA of London 2012 from the very beginning.

“Now the London Olympics has been a great success, we need to use the inspiration of the Games to get children playing sport more regularly.”

‘Pursue dreams’

He added: “I want to use the example of competitive sport at the Olympics to lead a revival of competitive sport in primary schools.

“We need to end the ‘all must have prizes’ culture and get children playing and enjoying competitive sports from a young age, linking them up with sports clubs so they can pursue their dreams.

“That’s why the new national curriculum in the autumn will include a requirement for primary schools to provide competitive sport.”

But Philip Collins, a former speech writer for Tony Blair, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme Mr Cameron’s analysis was “about 20 years out of date” and the plans were “effectively reinstating” the Schools Sports Partnership programme – set up by Labour, and cut by the Tories in 2010.

He went on to say playing competitive sport for a school was “intrinsically exclusive” and it was “perfectly sensible to have lots of other physical activities for children who loathed PE”.

Damian Hinds, Conservative MP for East Hampshire, said competitive sport taught children “the power of a team, pushing yourself, and learning that life involves losing some things as well as winning”.

Under the last government, only two in five children took part in competitive sports within schools, with one in five regularly taking part in competitive sport with other schools, he added.

The National Association of Head Teachers has called for further investment in a wide range of school sports.

But it said the government should not seek to dictate the specific games that are played.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the head teachers’ union, said: “London 2012 has drawn the nation’s attention to the sheer breadth of sports on offer and an enduring legacy would be to see the government promote these, thereby ensuring children enjoy participating at every level. The message is diversity.”

 

Source – BBC News

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Competition for children – right or wrong?

Gareth Southgate has recently been appointed as the FA’s elite performance director and has raised serious concerns relating to coaching children and specifically the overly competitive environments in which they play. This is not news as such as many senior Premier League managers, such as Messrs Wenger, Mourinho and Ferguson have all questioned the English culture of early competitiveness and compared this to more progressive and developmental approaches used with young players on the continent.

It’s going to sound as if the record is stuck now, as I’ve raised this issue before, but how can so much opinion be completely out of sync with latest curricular trends that propose a PE curriculum that increases emphasis on competition? I’m afraid to say that such is the influence of personal perspectives of politicians on our subject area of PE that we stand on the precipice of an era that has the potential to be even more damaging than John Major’s Raising the Game. The movement movement is under threat- if the emphasis is on competition the time spent on quality is often diminished; children are turned off by this lack of time to master movement before being asked to apply it. The proficiency barrier, whereby children can’t participate in certain activities due to their lack of basic fundamental movement skills, is highlighted further when children are asked to participate in static, sterile meaningless sports within adult-based competitive environments.

Whilst competition can be a useful environment in which to develop children with a self-referenced framework it worries me that an over reliance on such environments will stifle creativity and prevent a wider range of children participating. If the outcome is to improve performance, there is very little evidence to suggest that more competition will achieve this. Indeed, there is more evidence to suggest that strong participation routes will lead to more effective and refined performers entering the higher echelons of talent development pathways.

Returning to the starting point, isn’t it strange that the all-encompassing and extremely powerful national sport of football is so set against what is happening in schools PE – the tables seem to be turning.

Dr David Morley is Head of Education at ESP, a consultant for a range of national organisations and NGBs of sport, and holds Visiting Fellow positions at both Northumbria and Leeds Metropolitan Universities.

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