Written evidence submitted by Vision 2020
Integration of children with disabilities
into mainstream education has failed to meet their physical education
and sporting needs. Poor or no provision after school
for sport and recreation for children and young people with a
disability is further eroding basic opportunities for young people
with a disability to participate in a sport of their choice.
Poor inclusion in mainstream sports clubs
and limited or no coaching provision of a specialist nature means
that opportunities for sport are decreasing rather than increasing
as a result of the Games coming to London.
Poor or non-existent sporting events
coaching or development structures for people with a disability
to participate in sport.
Limited involvement by governing bodies
(either disability specific or main integrated sport body) in
grass roots development and involvement as main focus is on producing
Limited or reduced funding to those providing
grass roots opportunities or infra-structure to disabled people
endeavouring to do sports at all levels.
Lack of leadership and co-ordination
between major governmental departments re the issues above.
Solutions to the above are not one size
fits all and therefore, treating the Paralympic legacy issues
and processes the same as those for the Olympics will not work!
1. I make this submission as an individual with
over 30 years experience as a Paralympic athlete, coach, administrator,
Chef de Mission and Head of Delegation at numerous Paralympic
Games and as the immediate Past Chairman of Paralympics GB, a
post I held from 2001 to 2008. I became blind as a child following
a firework accident near my home in Hackney just a few hundred
yards from the site of the London 2012 games. My love of, and
participation in, sport over the past 50 years has provided me
with the most relevant and appropriate means of adjustment and
inclusion into society. I was also part of the bid team that won
the Games for London and was a full Board Member of LOCOG until
2. Physical Education and Sporting Opportunities
for ChildrenWhilst there have been many positive aspects
of integrating children with disabilities into mainstream education,
the major casualty has been the almost total lack of PE and sporting
provision for these children and young people. It is estimated
that 80% of children with disabilities do not achieve the two
hours core curriculum provision of PE in schools, let alone the
proposed increase to five hours. An urgent study is needed to
quantify this "officially" and perhaps one quick win
for the legacy programme could be achieving the 2 hour curriculum
target for all children with disabilities by 2013? Many reasons
are offered as to why PE and sporting opportunities are so poor
for children and young people with a disability; health and safety
concerns by the school, lack of competent and confident staff
to take PE or undertake sport for this group, parental opposition,
poor access or no adaptation of facilities and inflexible transport
arrangements thus prohibiting these children staying on for after
3. After school activities often exclude this
group of children ie no possibility of inclusion in team sports
such as football, cricket, rugby, basket ball etc., limited access
to swimming baths, athletic fields etc. All of these sports are
undertaken by people with a disability, but not now normally at
school. Specialist schools did provide a massive range of sporting
opportunities and sport played a major part of my own adjustment
to disability. I learned about teamwork, was able to set individual
goals, have competition to extend my abilities, occasionally experienced
"being a winner" and had that thrill of competition.
One example of efforts to redress this issue within a school setting
is in Leeds, which has a programme of monthly sporting and physical
activities arranged in school time for vision impaired children
within the schools. One solution easily achieved would be for
groups of schools to come together monthly to provide sporting
and recreational activities for disabled children and young people
within their schools.
4. Most clubs seem ill-prepared for enquiries
from, and inclusion of, people with disabilities who wish to participate
in the sport offered by the club. There is little or no support
for specialist clubs who provide opportunities for sport that
cannot be integrated ie wheelchair basketball or blind cricket!
There is often nothing locally to support the child or their parent
in accessing the specialist provision and this often involves
their having to undertake extensive travel to specialist facilities
or organisations catering for this group. There is poor information
regarding availability etc and http://www.parasport.org.uk was
established as a portal to provide pathway and provision information.
The then Mayor of London published a strategy in 2007, which highlighted
all these issues and to date there has been little, if any, action
to redress these anomalies in London or in the rest of the country.
DCSF have, in my view, shown no leadership regarding the legacy
of 2012 and its impact on PE in schools and the inclusion of those
with disabilities in core curriculum activities or sporting opportunities
within or after school. DCMS held a legacy event in 2008 and again
in April 2009 focusing on the legacy of the Games for those with
disabilities. One outcome was to seek greater links between DWP,
DCSF and themselves to ensure that joint strategies were developed
and pathways established that enabled children to enjoy and participate
in PE and sport within schools/after school clubs/integrated and
specialist provision in the community, with good national talent
forums and pathways established for those who wish to participate
in sport at a higher level and finally, with governing bodies
having clear inclusive programmes for sports men and women with
disabilities active at a national and international level.
5. Integration of disabled people into mainstream
sporting provision is a concept rather than a reality. Grants
to organisations has largely been based on physical access, rather
than actual provision of activities, coaching etc. For some it
has been a tick box action, rather than an attempt to include
and integrate their provision. In order to create a lasting legacy
from 2012, this offer of inclusion has to be both genuine and
meaningful, ie accessible facilities with no manmade barriers
re attitudes, lack of coaching or energy to find solutions regarding
sporting opportunities. These are all major threats to establishing
a broad base of participation pyramid with hundreds of disabled
people participating in sport at the base level, filtering through
at representative level for club and nationally, leading on to
the tip of the pyramidinternational competition at Paralympic
level. This pathway does not currently exist for those with a
disability and therefore, a different solution needs to be found
that provides a separate provision (where appropriate) and uses
the mainstream provision (where appropriate).
6. The above leads me to ask the following questions
and offer some possible solutions/actions:
Why is the information/evidence re participation
of children and young people with a disability in sport and physical
recreation so poor? Action the commissioning of a major study
into physical activity undertaken by children and young people
with a disability (to include those with physical, sensory or
learning disabilities). I would expect that, of the 20% of the
school population not achieving two hours core curriculum PE,
80% of these are those with disabilities? DCSF to engage and publish
their plan for active PE in schools for this group?
Greater inclusion (where this is possible)
in mainstream club provision and greater information available,
and support, for specialist sports groups providing knowledgeable
coaching and events. Properly monitored and realistic funding
streams for those providing integration and for those providing
specialist input and provision.
7. The production of a joint strategy between
DCMS, DWP and most importantly DCSF regarding various responsibilities
re sporting and recreational provision, inclusion and integration
in society and full educational opportunities for those with disabilities
including active PE and sport.
8. Empower the disability sports bodies and
those sporting bodies with grass roots and participation programmes
to (a) offer the widest range of activities to people with disabilities,
(b) offer their expertise to schools and other sporting bodies
and (c) make a reality the opportunity for people with disabilities
to undertake a sport of their choice within 10 miles of where
they live or go to school! As a result of the lack of provision,
coaching, infrastructure and sheer lack of imagination, children
and young people with disabilities will increasingly fail to develop
the levels of special awareness, physical strength, sporting skill
and ability, determination and mentoring, which are needed to
become top athletes at Paralympic and other levels. For example,
we have already seen the reduction of vision impaired athletes
competing at the top level from 25% of participants in Barcelona,
to 10% in China. In Beijing, we had one VI athlete, two VI swimmers,
two VI cyclists, one VI rower, four VI judo players and the rest
were our blind football team. In Sydney we had 10 VI athletes,
10 VI swimmers and five VI judo players.
9. All the healthy living targets apply to disabled
people as much, if not more, than to the general population. Many
disabled people are over weight, have poor diets and do no, or
limited, physical activity. They are more likely to be isolated
or have mental health needs and are amongst the poorest in society.
15 years ago, 95% of disabled children would have been educated
in special schools with only 5% in mainstream schools, and many
of these would have been the least disabled. Now it is estimated
that 95% are educated in mainstream schools (including quite high
levels of disability), with only 5% in special schools and these
are usually the most severely disabled for whom integrated provision
has been thought too difficult to provide. The likelihood now
is that there are 2/3 disabled children in every school and sport
is way down the agenda with regard to provision and inclusion.
10. The London 2012 Games is intended to
provide a lasting legacy for sport, health and regeneration. It
is the catalyst, not the main provider or driver, this has to
be undertaken by others. There needs to be a structured, thought
through, co-ordinated, easily understood strategy and pathway
to deliver the same sporting and recreational activities for people
with a disability as for those who are not disabled.
We should be aspiring to:
Deliver full curriculum PE and sporting
activities to all disabled children and young people in schools.
Ensure inclusion in after school and
external sports clubs and bodies for people with a disability.
Develop more onus on sports clubs and
other bodies receiving grants and financial support to establish
clear and transparent programmes/opportunities for people with
Increase support for extending the number
of events/sporting competitions for disabled people.
Enhance the development of both integrated
and specialist coaches for athletes with a disability.
Undertake a proper analysis of the pathways
that work for people with a disability re sport and recreation
and then adopt a structure which leads to the provision of these
best practice models.
1. What is DCSF's responsibility for knowing
what level of PE and sporting provision occurs in school and is
it leading on achieving at least two hours curriculum PE for those
2. Is there sufficient flexibility with support
transport for children and young people to enable them to participate
in after school activities?
3. Who monitors grants to, and the activities
of, sports clubs with regard to their inclusion of people with
4. How do specialist providers of either
coaching or activities to people with a disability ensure adequate
funding to keep their provision going?
5. How do families and individuals get to
know of sporting opportunities and facilities and could there
be better grouping/collaboration between schools and clubs to
widen the provision and the expertise available?
6. Is anyone looking at the development
of specialist coaches for sports undertaken by those with disabilities
either within existing coaching awards for particular sports or
as separate specialist models?
7. Much has been done to include disabled
people as spectators of sport, re wheelchair access, audio commentary,
sign interpretation etc. Could 2012 herald new benchmarks in inclusive
spectator facilities, provision and availability?
With probably the best broadcasting partner
(if the BBC gets the 2012 Paralympic contract), the images of
amazing people doing amazing things being shown all over the world
will inspire many people with a disability to think about and
try sport. The stunning images will challenge concepts of disability
and force people to see ability in action. For many of the disabled
young people in Britain, the Games will also be the inspirational
moment when they will want to emulate their sporting Paralympic
The question now is, will they get the encouragement
and competent tuition in a range of sports by 2012? The answer
now has to be Doubtful!
If we also asked the question, would someone
with a disability, who wishes to take up a sport at whatever level
and whenever in their life, at a place within 10 miles of their
home or school have a realistic chance of doing so by 2012, the
answer would be a definite "NO!".