UK Politicians Criticize Gov’t School Sports Development Plan


According to Owen Gibson of The Guardian, the Commons Education Select Committee has a mountain of criticism for the British’s flagship school sport policy.

According to a report by a committee of MPs, £150 million primary school sports policy risks becoming little more than a “gimmick.” The policy was announced by Education Secretary Michael Gove in March 2013 covering two years starting 2013-2014 determining the path for primary school sport.

The committee said that the sports plan was not satisfactory, and more amendments are required to ensure that every child will be offered opportunities to participate in sport — not just for sport-inclined young children. The committee warned the government that more emphasis on competitive sports could discourage some children from taking part in physical activity.

The committee believes that a school sports revolution is needed in order to find and train the next generation of champions to build on London’s 2012 Olympic success, and that the government should develop a long-terms plan and funding for school sports.

“Successive governments have kicked school sport around as a political football, announcing short-term fixes without any sustained vision for the future,” committee chair Graham Stuart said. “Occasional pump-priming is simply not good enough for something so important. If the government wants to capitalize on the legacy of London 2012 it must commit to programmes and funding for the long-term.”

The new £150 million policy is funded jointly by the Department of Education, the Department of Health, and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.

The plan grants about £9,250 to each school spending on sport-related activities. But there are fears that the money will be wasted without sufficient guidance or assistance.

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

“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.”

According to the committee, the schools should not just focus on competitive sport but offer a range of activities with broad appeal that will help identify and cultivate new talent for international games.

“We need to be encouraging all young people to take part in sport; whether they enjoy the competition of football, rugby or netball or prefer non-competitive activities. Schools must provide a range of activities that appeal to all,” Stuart said.

According to Graeme Paton of The Telegraphthe committee appreciated the government’s plan to train 120 new primary PE specialists, but said it is not enough to create an impact on England’s 17,000 primary schools.

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