Memorandum submitted by the Department
for Education and Employment
This Department establishes legal requirements
for schools to deliver the National Curriculum. The Department
also funds the Specialist Sports Colleges and has an interest
in providing out of school hours learning activities, known as
study support. Further evidence could perhaps also be sought from
Sport England, the Youth Sport Trust, the National Coaching Foundation
and professional rugby clubs.
Physical Education (PE) is one of the foundation
subjects in the Curriculum, which all pupils must study, unless
exempted because of Special Educational Needs or other reasons
allowed in law. The PE curriculum is divided into six areas: athletics,
games, dance, gymnastics, swimming and outdoor/adventurous activities.
The primary level programmes of study for PE
were suspended for the years 1998-99 and 1999-2000, along with
the programmes of study for five other subjects. This was to allow
schools to concentrate on the Government's literacy and numeracy
strategies. Full programmes of study (which are slightly different
from the previous ones, following the National Curriculum review)
will be reinstated from September 2000. The full programme of
study for swimming at primary level has remained compulsory throughout,
for safety reasons.
As part of the National Curriculum pupils take
part in variety of competitive, team and individual games at Key
Stage Stages 1, 2, 3 and 4. However, the National Curriculum does
not specify which actual games should be taught. It is for individual
schools to decide on their games provision in the light of resources
available. The Department does not collect centrally data on the
provision of specific games on offer in each school, but we do
expect schools, where they reasonably can, to bear in mind the
interests of their pupils when deciding how to use their PE resources.
Greater flexibility will be offered at Key Stage
4 as part of the revised National Curriculum, to be introduced
in September 2000. This increased flexibility aims to promote
interest in sporting and healthy activities for those who lose
interest in sport at an early age, particularly girls, as they
are discouraged by compulsory participation in competitive sports
during schooling. However, we will still exhort schools to offer
the option of competitive games to their pupils at Key Stage 4.
We also believe that two hours physical activity a week, including
the national curriculum for physical education but also taking
into account extra-curriculum activity, should be an aspiration
for all schools.
However, the following points on the availability
of rugby in schools are relevant to the enquiry.
Sportsmark has been developed to give recognition
to secondary schools that have a balanced and progressive physical
education curriculum and have achieved a wide range of community
sports provision for their students. The scheme has been great
success with some 1,100 schools achieving a Sportsmark or Sportsmark
Gold, a mark of special distinction for schools whose sports policies
exceeded the basic criteria. Sport England (formerly the English
Sports Council) has been operating the Sportsmark Award and Sportsmark
Gold Award, aimed at secondary schools, for some two years. In
making applications for awards schools complete a questionnaire
giving details on their PE and sporting provision, including such
things as time allocations for PE and the extent of their after
school sports provision. Included in the questionnaire is a section
on commonly played competitive sports within the school and in
external competitions. Rugby League and Rugby Union are listed
for both boys and girls in secondary schools. The Chief Verifier
of the scheme at Sport England considers that more than 70 per
cent of those schools that apply to the scheme provide competitive
rugby. The scheme has received 1,400 applications, which is around
20 per cent of all secondary schools in England.
Many professional sports clubs (usually rugby,
football and cricket) operate community development schemes. These
typically take the format of player visits to schools, demonstrations,
follow-up coaching courses and often, visits to the club and/or
This scheme accepts applications from schools
to have a visit from a sports personality. The scheme is administered
by Sport England. Schools apply on a standard application form
detailing the event/occasion they want a personality to attend
along with background information on their own sporting provision.
Local authority sports development officers
have been active in school sport for some time. This was initiated
by the National Coaching Foundation's Champion Coaching Programme
aimed at 11 to 14 year olds. The programme began in 1992 and was
focused on creating after school coaching opportunities in a range
of sports (including rugby).
The Government is actively promoting out of
school hours learning activities (normally known as study support).
These have an important role to play in our school improvement
strategy. £160 million of New Opportunities Fund (NOF) money
is being made available over the next few years, along with £80
million of Standards Fund money from April 2000. Schools are being
encouraged to establish well run study support schemes, that complement
their day time activities. The aim is to help improve motivation
and self-esteem and to raise achievement. Research shows that
sport has a prominent position in out of school activities and
it is clearly identified as one of the activities that falls within
the definition of study support.
NOF is aiming to support provision in half of
all secondary and special schools and a quarter of primary schools
in England, with a particular focus on schools in disadvantaged
areas. As well as running after school sports themselves, schools
are encouraged to work with volunteers and local partners including
sports clubs. The Department is encouraging as wide a range of
bodies as possible to work with schools on study support. Guidance
explicitly promotes the role of partners, and bodies such as the
Youth Sport Trust and Education Extra have been funded to produce
sports focused materials for study support.
The Government's Specialist Sports College programme
aims to raise standards in teaching and learning in physical education
and sport for all pupils and give pupils with the greatest potential
the opportunity to excel at their chosen sport. There are currently
36 Sports Colleges in England. The Government's target is to have
over 100 Sports Colleges by September 2003. Sports Colleges give
all pupils the opportunity to achieve their potential in sport.
They support the work of local schools and act as local centres
of sports development, linking with sports clubs and disseminating
Sports Colleges use the BT Top Sport rugby programme
with their feeder schools to help raise standards and to generate
greater out of school activity. BT Top Sport has been developed
in close co-operation with the Rugby Football Union and the physical
education profession. It consists of a large bag of child friendly
and age specific rugby equipment, along with teaching resource
cards and a package of training for teachers.
Specialist Sports Colleges also take part in
the TOP Link Programme where pupils aged 14 to 19 undertake to
plan, stage and evaluate a festival of sport for primary aged
children in their local community. The RFU have developed a young
leaders course specifically to enable them to work with primary
Individual Sports Colleges work alongside the
RFU and professional rugby clubs to help support the development
of talented young players. One such scheme links Saracens Rugby
Club with Barking Abbey Sports College. The aim is to make the
Sports College a focal point for talented young rugby players
aged 11 to 14 in the London Boroughs by providing regular coaching
clinics on the school site. At 14, the best of these young people
will transfer to the school and become full-time pupils. This
will allow them to continue receiving top class coaching while
still maintaining their academic studies. Where necessary, additional
tutorial support will be provided on an individual basis. This
programme will link to Saracens' elite squads, creating a continuous
talent development pathway for the players.
In May the Department announced a joint proposal
with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport for promoting
competitive fixtures between schools and to boost after-school
sport through the appointment of Active School Co-ordinators.
Sport England have been tasked with developing this initiative.
The Co-ordinators will help to develop PE and sport within and
outside the National Curriculum. They will be placed throughout
the country and work closely with, and in support of, teachers
and others working in the field to ensure a coherent approach
to PE. Those schools in deprived areas are to be particularly
targeted. Further consultation will take place with LEAs and schools
before the scheme begins to be implemented.