It would be good to report that one of these laudable sports legacy initiatives had been achieved. Sadly, I cannot report that any of these measures have been delivered because the necessary building blocks for an Olympic sports legacy for young people were absent. The hard evidence, as evidenced in the recent Select Committee report, excellently chaired by the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Haringey, who I note is in his place today, highlighted that. The reality is that work for young children must start now, but how?

First, I applaud the approach taken by Scotland in its “Excellence” curriculum for physical education in primary schools that calls for all subjects to be delivered in a physically active way—not always through competitive sport. A step change is also needed at the Department of Health towards preventive health rather than having clinical targets, and recognition by the Department for Education that physical education has a distinctive

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and vital role to play in education. As has been rightly pointed out, primary school teacher training in sport is in need of far higher prioritisation.

The biggest neglect in national strategy during the past two decades has been the lack of focus on how local authorities can assist. In the main they provide most of the facilities that clubs and national governing bodies need to support young people and they often finance the most accessible first-stage coaching opportunities across a range of sports. The Government need to support local government, making spend on recreation and leisure mandatory, not discretionary. They need to invest in incentives for local authorities to use for clubs and their members; for example, a more systematic provision of rate relief.

The School Games initiative was the silver bullet in the mind of Jeremy Hunt in the run-up to the London Olympics. That was thought to address competition in sport. It was a good idea in principle but I regret that it has become in many respects a complex and unwieldy bureaucratic structure of activities ranging from level 1 up to level 4. I well recall going to a county level 3 in Kent where “Splat the Rat” and golf with giant plastic clubs and foam balls were in evidence on a hard tennis court. That was not competitive sport between teams representing their schools. Everybody enjoyed themselves but the reality is that funding, as recognised by the Government, should go first into schools to improve delivery. It needs to be directed towards the governing bodies of sport that for decades have built the expertise and experience in delivering competitive school sports. We have the Rosslyn Park National Schools Sevens, the National Schools’ Regatta, and the evidence of my noble friend Lady Heyhoe Flint, in her excellent speech, on ECB initiatives.

I shall close by quoting the interesting article by David Walsh that some of your Lordships will have read in the Sunday Times yesterday. He said:

“If one wish transcended all others in the aftermath of London 2012 it was that more young people, especially girls, would see sport as something they wanted to do and levels of participation would rise”.

Sadly, it has not happened.

7.03 pm

Lord Pendry (Lab): My Lords, I, too, congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Heyhoe Flint on initiating this debate, albeit a short one, but because of the importance of the subject, I hope that there will be a major debate on the Floor of the Chamber in the future.

I make no apologies for raising the question of boxing in schools, and its importance. I wish to illustrate the beneficial side of competitive sport, particularly boxing at school and amateur levels. Certainly at these levels, boxing is not harmful, yet some of my so-called friends, knowing that I started my boxing at school, think that it did some damage to me, finishing up as a Member of Parliament and a Peer of the realm.

Lord Hoyle: We have thought that for years.

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Lord Pendry: They may well also say that about the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, who, like me, boxed at Oxford although, I must say, in different years and at different weights.

Seriously, though, boxing in schools promotes skill development and a structured pathway leading to competition and coaching. Some who contend that boxing is a dangerous and inappropriate sport for youths are, in my view, misinformed. Boxing is not only about fisticuffs and strength but is a sport based principally on skill, structure, rules and discipline. It is also a sport that appeals to both boys and girls, and is less dangerous than many sports as defined by Sport England.

Intersport boxing competitions have taken place in various schools near where I was an MP, in Manchester, but also in London, the south-west and other areas of the country. I argue that in those schools, competitive boxing increases fitness levels and promotes a healthy lifestyle. Many teachers have witnessed increased motivation in disengaged students, improvements in self-confidence and self-esteem, greater enthusiasm and positive behaviour. Boxing teaches both girls and boys about the value of respect, sportsmanship and self-worth. In my view, teachers and parents heavily support competitive boxing in schools, with schools such as North Chadderton School in Oldham, which I recently visited, allowing students to be assessed practically on their boxing skill as part of GCSE and A-level studies. At one of the schools I went to recently, in fact, the Ofsted inspector was quoted as saying that,

“it was a refreshing change to the normal PE curriculum and an excellent lesson”.

As I have a minute or so left, I shall simply say that the current debate brought about by the Minister for Sport underlines the need for a more appropriate approach to sport. What planet is Helen Grant on when she advocates young girls to take up more feminine sports like cheerleading, ballet and roller skating to make them look “absolutely radiant”? Tell that to Nicola Adams, the boxing gold medallist, or Gemma Gibbons, the silver medallist in judo, or indeed our speakers today: the noble Baronesses, Lady Heyhoe Flint, Lady Massey and Lady Grey-Thompson, the greatest Olympian of them all. They are all feminine and all radiant.

I would go on complimenting noble Lords but my time is up. I hope that we have a bigger and longer debate in the other Chamber soon.

7.08 pm

Lord Stevenson of Balmacara (Lab): My Lords, I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Heyhoe Flint, on securing this debate and warmly welcome the maiden speech by my noble friend Lord Allen of Kensington and his welcome attention to volunteers in the world of sport, without whom, of course, much of what we enjoy in sport today in the UK would not be there. As my noble friend Lord Hoyle said, he clearly has a lot to offer the House and we look forward to hearing from him in future.

As the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, said, despite the title, most noble Lords who have spoken in this rather excellent debate have challenged the binary

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assumption of the title and drawn attention to the need to think much more widely about the question of how we locate competitive sport within sport in the context of other issues, such as the problems with obesity in the population; issues about body image, which affect boys and girls; the role of physical literacy, which is important across many ways in which we engage with the world; and the role of elite sports men and women in our society, possibly in combination with the way in which the media relate to them.

As the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, said, the situation that we face at the moment is pretty dire because we have not achieved the aspirations that we all had when we engaged with the Olympics. Indeed, the situation has got worse since the end of the previous Government. In 2009-10, more than 90% of pupils were taking part in two hours of PE and school sport a week, up from an estimated 25% in 2002. In competitive sport, 78% of pupils—77% of girls and 79% of boys—took part in intraschool competitive activities. In 2009-10, 49% of pupils took part in interschool competitive sport; again, up significantly. That was a reasonable starting point and it was largely down to the success of school sport partnerships, which have not been mentioned much today but were a notable feature of the past decade or so, which increased participation for both men and women and did not pose the question of whether it was competitive or encouraging participation—it was both.

Recent research has shown a 60% decline in the number of schools involved in organising school sport partnerships, and that is to be regretted. We now read in the papers that more than half of children fail to get at least two hours of physical education every week. The Education Select Committee published a report in July that criticised the Government’s approach to school sport, saying:

“There is clear evidence that the ending of the school sport partnerships funding has had a negative impact, including on the opportunities for young people to access competitive sporting opportunities in school”.

I would like the Minister to reflect on what we were told in 2011 by the then Secretary of State, Mr Jeremy Hunt, who said that he was,

“banishing once and for all the left-wing orthodoxy that promotes ‘prizes for all’ and derides competition”,

and that he could sum up the Government’s sports policy in three words: more competitive sport. Is that really the answer? Does it not need, as we have heard, a more nuanced response, from local authorities, schools, health and education, all working together? I would be grateful if the Minister could answer that question.

7.11 pm

Lord Gardiner of Kimble (Con): My Lords, first, I congratulate my noble friend on securing this debate and thank noble Lords for a lively and well supported exchange of views. It has been very much enriched by the maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Allen of Kensington, who brought his very considerable experience of these matters. The noble Lord definitely hit a six with his maiden speech, and I congratulate him.

The summer of 2012 showed us that there is a tremendous appetite in this country for sporting competition. In the past year, 83% of children aged

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five to 15 reported that they had participated in some form of competitive sport—I think that the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson of Balmacara, and I need to go over our figures together—with 79% taking part in school and 37% outside of school. We want these figures to increase.

Competitive sport plays an important role in a child’s development. As the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, and the noble Lords, Lord Allen and Lord Stevenson, said, it is all about improving health and well-being, but it also helps to teach children how to deal with the ups and downs that life undoubtedly brings. I was very struck by what IOC President Thomas Bach said last night in the closing ceremony about recognising victory and defeat with dignity. It also teaches children how to work in a team, which is extremely important, and many of your Lordships have been involved in very senior team-making. It also improves confidence and increases concentration.

Furthermore, it is a widely held view that children should be physically active as early as possible so as to gain the skills and confidence they need to compete in sport—as well as life skills—and take them on into adult life. That is why the Government are committed to reviving competitive sport and why we have given it a much needed boost by establishing the School Games and investing in the PE and sport primary school premium. I agree entirely with the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, that it must be delivered in the right way.

Launched in 2011, the School Games features more than 30 sports, many of which have been raised during this debate. It is sponsored by Sainsbury’s and run by the Youth Sport Trust, and has already transformed competitive school sport. It is designed to give every child the chance to play more competitive sport, regardless of ability or disability, across four levels.

At level 1, pupils compete against their peers in school, culminating in an annual school games sports day. At level 2, schools compete against each other. Level 3 features the best athletes from levels 1 and 2, who represent their school at a county festival. Last year, more than 100 summer and winter festivals took place, involving more than 100,000 pupils, about 10% of whom were children with disabilities, and 36% of whom were of primary school age.

7.15 pm

Level 4 is the pinnacle of school games. It is predominantly for secondary school children, and gives the best athletes the chance to compete at a major sporting event. About 1,400 athletes competed in Sheffield last year. Manchester will host this year’s finals.

My noble friends Lady Heyhoe Flint and Lord Addington had somewhat differing views about rugby in Surrey. I understand that the RFU, the national governing body for English rugby, remains committed to providing more opportunities for children to compete. Almost 17,000 schools are voluntarily taking part in school games—nearly 70% of all schools in England—including approximately 13,000 primary schools.

Our aim is to have 80% of schools signed up by this time next year and, ultimately, for 100% of schools to be signed up. Our commitment to school sport does

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not stop at school games. The Prime Minister recently announced another year of £150 million of funding for the PE and school sport premium, which my noble friend Lady Heyhoe Flint outlined. That funding is now in place up to 2016, and the Prime Minister has said that, should he remain Prime Minister, it would be in place up to 2020.

This ring-fenced funding goes directly into the hands of every primary school head teacher in England to spend on improving PE and sport. Heads decide how to spend their premium, but they are free to use it to get involved in school games and to take advantage of the free support that that provides, including access to one of the 450 school games organisers in post throughout England.

Ofsted has produced guidance for schools on what good PE and sport provision looks like, and inspectors will be looking for good practice during their inspections. This includes paying staff or coaches to run competitions, or increasing participation in school games. In addition, PE rightly remains a compulsory part of the curriculum and has a greater emphasis on competitive sport.

We want all primary schools, large and small, town, suburban and country, to benefit from school games. Schools can spend their premium on training teachers and/or bringing in coaches to give them expertise to teach. Several noble Lords, including my noble friends Lord Addington and Lord Moynihan and the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, raised the issue of teaching, particularly in the primary school context.

The new PE curriculum specifically places greater emphasis on pupils’ development of physical literacy at key stages 1 and 2. In addition, with funding of £750,000, the National College for Teaching and Leadership is running a pilot programme to train 120 primary specialist teachers in PE in three teaching schools. Obviously, we need to build on that, and I should very much like to have a discussion with several of your Lordships about the teaching experience, because that will clearly be essential.

Lord Thomas of Gresford: Does my noble friend agree that the Government in Wales ought to take note of the investment that this Government are making in sport for children?

Lord Gardiner of Kimble: My Lords, I would go further than that. I think that all home nations should think about that carefully, for the reasons outlined by your Lordships, the key points about the health and well-being of children, so I very much endorse what my noble friend said.

On facilities, the Prime Minister recently announced a new £18 million fund to help about 600 primary schools that are most in need. We know also that secondary schools open their facilities to help primary schools that require additional space for competitions. I hope this will be an expanding feature, because this is another key sector where there are facilities in the area from which we must make sure that all school children can benefit.

Sport England has commissioned Fit for Sport to run a pilot exploring how schools in Somerset could get more involved in School Games, for example by

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posting their results online against which other schools could compete. The result was increased participation.

I want also to refer to Project Ability—a bespoke project within School Games, which has helped to introduce around 25,000 young disabled people to competitive sport. A good example of this is in Gloucestershire, where a sailing event was an inclusive competition with special educational needs or disabilities children and non-SEND pupils from different schools competing in joint teams, with the winners awarded combined medals. This is another example of ways in which we should be working.

I also wanted to raise an issue that has obviously been a matter of some discussion in the newspapers, and I think it quite rightly belongs in this debate. This is about ensuring that girls are given as many competitive opportunities as boys. The noble Baroness, Lady Massey, particularly raised this, as did my noble friends Lady Heyhoe Flint and Lord Moynihan. I was interested to be briefed that now more girls than boys are competing at the School Games county festivals. I very much hope that this will be a feature of a continuing competition between the boys and the girls to ensure that the girls are in the lead on this.

I turn now to volunteering. School Games is about more than just competing in sport. The noble Lord, Lord Allen, who chairs the highly successful Join In programme, will know well that School Games is also helping to build teams of volunteers. Volunteers in sport are crucial: without them, most sport simply could not happen. School Games is supported by a range of volunteers, including non-teaching staff, parents and the children themselves. I must also refer to referees, as my noble friend Lord Thomas of Gresford raised referees as a very important feature of any sport. The county festivals alone benefited from more than 12,000 young volunteers giving up their time to support the athletes and spectators, while the majority of volunteers at the national finals were young people, with over 500 involved in Sheffield last year.

Children should be able to enjoy and participate in competitive sport from a young age, and take those skills with them on into secondary school, the community and beyond. The important word that came out was “fun”. My noble friend Lady Heyhoe Flint mentioned the “fun environment”; the noble Lord, Lord Hoyle, mentioned the word “fun”. It is very clear that rugby league in his part of the world is in very good heart as it is in Wales, in my noble friend Lord Thomas of Gresford’s part of the world. Boxing is a game which the noble Lord, Lord Pendry, has mentioned. They are all very much part of the community. That is why, in addition to the School Games, and the premium and the curriculum, we have our £1 billion youth and community sport strategy for 11 to 25 year-olds, which includes specific programmes for Sport Activate and community satellite clubs to help children make the transition into community sport.

I want to reassure your Lordships that the Government are taking serious steps to encourage younger children to participate in competitive sport. The advantages of children participating in the right way and volunteering

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are recognised, as evidenced by the involvement of four government departments in this work. This debate has illustrated the firm commitment of so many of your Lordships to take this matter further and quite rightly so; it has highlighted the immense practical

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experience and truly exceptional sporting success your Lordships bring as we all seek a healthier and more fulfilled life for the children of our country.

Committee adjourned at 7.24 pm.