Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


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 a match.


  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 good practice.

  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 aged children.

  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.

November 1999

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