Written evidence submitted by Dr John
This submission is in response to your inquiry
How success in delivering lasting legacy
can be measured.
In this report I refer to the provision of youth
The submission is from Dr John Allan, secretary
of the Schools Water Polo League.
The League has existed for 37 years to promote
water polo competition for secondary schools in the SE and Midlands,
primarily based in the London area. It organises about 25 tournaments
each year for three age groups.
In the 1980s about 30 secondary schools entered
the League; approximately 50:50 State Schools: Independent schools.
The State schools progressively lost their swimming pools, access
to a local pool and their staff with any interest in this sport.
Most swimming and water polo competitions are now dominated by
Independent schools thereby excluding about 90% pupils from these
Youth water polo in the club set-up collapsed
in Britain with the rise of competitive tendering for swimming
pools. If pool time was offered it was often at 9.00 pmtoo
late for most young children.
Nothing in the last 30 years has given me any
indication that the situation has changed. Swimming has almost
disappeared from the secondary school curriculum and the teaching
colleges produce few teachers of swimming and even less of water
polo. Those PE teachers with swimming qualifications have little
opportunity to use or develop their skills in state schools.
Since it is highly unlikely that state schools
will ever again own their swimming pools, (new builds rarely include
a pool) the future of youth water polo, and therefore the whole
sport, lies in the club system, ie the community. Without a significant
input to youth water polo the sport has no serious future in Britain.
The Olympic legacy will be irrelevant.
A positive legacy of the Olympic effort would
be to fund the teaching of all year 5 and year 6 pupils to swim
to a good standard, and to play mini-polo with inter-school competition.
At the end of year 6 all those with aptitude should be given details
of their local swimming and water polo clubs to which they can
transfer at minimum cost.
A year 7 programme of swimming and water polo
should be compulsory to be able to pick up all those children
who missed out/avoided/entered the country with no swimming ability.
After year 7 withdraw swimming/water polo from
the state school curriculum. The community/government should thereafter
provide a swimming/water polo club programme.
The legacy of the Olympic Park swimming facilities
will be worthless unless a massive re-organisation of "ordinary"
facilities is put in place to support it. The government must
be pro-active and be prepared to ruffle many feathers to achieve
this. All swimming pools of an appropriate size, no matter who
owns them, should have to contribute to the community under government
direction. All pools should be available, probably on a rotation/collective
basis, for youth swimming and water polo clubs to flourish at
times of the day that suit the ages of the children. Every area/town/part
of city should offer about 18 hours of pool time each week to
Since primary school teachers are unlikely to
fulfil much of this it is most important that more School Sports
Development Officers be appointed to organise primary school sport,
teach the necessary skills and take charge of competition.
The legacy would be a much healthier generation
of children with greater access to facilities. Over time this
would increase membership of the privately owned swimming pools
that had contributed to the system, with adults continuing to
use the swimming pools they had used as children.