Keeping the flame alive: the Olympic and Paralympic Legacy - Select Committee on Olympic and Paralympic Legacy Contents



151.  There is consensus that the critical juncture for lifelong enthusiasm in sport to be sparked is at an early age, when patterns of lifestyle are established. This clearly means that schools, both primary and secondary, have a key role. At the same time, school sport does not operate in a vacuum: it is important to consider the relationships between schools and other bodies in developing life-long habits of physical activity and developing future sporting talent.

The legacy of School Sports Partnerships

152.  State funding of school sports has generated significant controversy in recent years, most centring on impact of the Government's discontinuation of funding for School Sports Partnerships (SSPs) in 2010. SSPs were based on networks of schools which would receive around £250,000 each per annum in order to develop infrastructure to boost the teaching of PE and additionally to support local sports outside schools.

153.  In its recent report, School Sport following London 2012: No more political football,[33] the Commons Education Select Committee concluded that:

    "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. School sport partnerships were expensive but delivered benefits for children. The Government needs to show that an alternative programme (at lower cost) can deliver significant increases in participation in school sport."

154.  School Sports Partnerships were described by Baroness Campbell of Loughborough, Chair of the Youth Sport Trust, as "an evolving structure, and it still had some evolution to go and it still had some improving to do." She noted that, despite the ending of funding to SSPs, "about 50% have survived in some form or other".[34] Kate Hoey MP, who as Sports Minister introduced the concept of SSPs, suggested that, where SSPs had been successful, they were still largely in place. She shared the view that they were a transitional tool;

    "it was never at that time considered to be something that would last forever. It was very much that we thought that if this happened and we could get schools, particularly head teachers, to realise the importance of PE and school sport, it would then really mean that they would start to make sport and PE much more important for themselves within the priority area."[35]

The Sport Premium

155.  In March 2013, the Prime Minister announced new ring-fenced funding for sport in schools, in the form of a Sport Premium of £150 million each year targeted at the provision of PE in primary schools. In written evidence, the Government described the uses of the Sport Premium as follows:

    "Within the broad requirement that they use it to improve their provision of PE and sport, primary schools can use this new funding as they see fit. This could include buying in help from secondary schools if they feel this is right for them. They will be held accountable for their spending through arrangement outlined in section 6.

    Alternative options for the use of the additional ring-fenced funding might include:

·  Hiring specialist PE teachers, PE advanced skills teachers, or qualified sports coaches to work alongside primary teachers when teaching PE;

·  New or additional Change4Life sport clubs;

·  Paying for professional development opportunities in PE/sport;

·  Providing cover to release primary teachers for professional development in PE/sport;

·  Running sporting competitions, or increasing participation in the School Games;

·  Purchasing quality assured professional development modules or materials for PE/sport;

·  Providing places for pupils on after school sport clubs and holiday clubs."[36]

156.  Maria Miller told us that "it is really for the school to determine where they are and what support they need, and of course it is ring-fenced money, so they will be judged by Ofsted as to how they have used that to support sport in their schools."[37]

157.  Whilst welcoming the announcement of the Sport Premium, Youth Charter reported some worrying trends in the period since funding to SSPs ended. The School Sport Survey, which focussed on five to 16 year old children,

    "was ended in 2010 when the funding for the Schools Sports Partnerships ended. However, a survey of teachers, school games organiser and school sport partnerships staff by The Smith Institute—post-London 2012—found:

·  Falling participation since the loss of ring-fenced funding for School Sports Partnerships;

·  The old funding system was preferred to the new system;

·  School Sport Partnerships was preferred to the new School Games programme;

·  Non-competitive physical activities must be encouraged alongside competitive activities;

·  A minimum target of two hours PE and Sport a week is still required; and

·  Physical Activity improves educational Attainment."[38]

158.  Eileen Marchant of the Association for Physical Exercise drew parallels between perceived flaws in the SSPs' structure and the successor arrangements. She argued that, with SSPs, "sustainability was not created, except in small pockets where they had a massive impact. With the PE and School Sport Premium, we do not want to make that same mistake again. We want to make sure that what it is used for creates sustainability so that, if the funding goes, the impact does not."[39]

159.  We received evidence from several quarters that the ending of funding to SSPs, and ultimately its replacement by the School Sport Premium, was a mistake. The rights and wrongs of this decision are now academic to the legacy, which must be forward-looking. SSPs were not universally successful, but did provide a way for schools to cooperate to build shared infrastructure, particularly in competitive sport. The Government, Local Authorities and schools themselves must all be alive to the danger of individualised funding to different schools, giving them a high degree of discretion, leading to uneven teaching of PE. They need to consider what more they can do in concert to ensure cooperation and the building of shared infrastructure.

The delivery of PE in primary schools

160.  Much of our evidence pointed to a lack of expertise in primary schools, which represented the best opportunity to address this at a critical age. School Sports Partnerships did address this by combining with other schools and local sports clubs and effectively by outsourcing control of sports teaching to School Sports Coordinators. When the Committee visited Gainsborough Primary School in Hackney, we were struck by the enthusiasm and commitment of the teaching staff to take on a greater role in PE and sports teaching, but they were clear that they would need additional training in order to do this.

161.  At the request of the Welsh Government, Baroness Grey-Thompson chaired a review group which considered physical activity in Welsh schools, and published her report[40] in June 2013. The sole recommendation of the report was that PE should become a core subject in Welsh schools. Elevating PE to core subject status would, according to the report, cost £5 million per annum; the report compares this to the estimated £73 million annual cost to the health service resulting from obesity. The report also drew attention to shortcomings in the preparedness of teachers to deliver PE, she told us that "A massive priority is changing teacher training. I and so many other people have been going on about this for years. It could be changed incredibly quickly. Most parents would be shocked if maths was being taught to their primary school children by somebody who dropped out at 11 and had four hours of instruction in how to deliver it. There would be universal outcry."[41] A report in August 2012 by the Sutton found that, over 60% of teachers received fewer than six hours of training on the delivery of PE.

162.  Looking at the current system of sport in schools, Baroness Campbell identified:

    "two major issues: in primary, it is expertise; and in secondary, the PE teacher carries out the role that, in independent schools, is carried out by a director of sport. They are not only teaching physical education; they are trying to provide after-school sporting opportunities, hire, fire and employ coaches, and organise the competition. In independent schools that is done by a separate role, called the director of sport, and that allows the PE department to teach the curriculum and the director of sport to manage the out-of-school opportunity. That does not happen in our state schools, so there are two big issues that have been with us for a very long time. The third big issue is this connectivity of young people to the community, so it is about expertise, time and headteachers feeling the pressure. They are judged on examination results, not on the health, wellbeing, fitness and participation of their young people in sport."[42]

163.  We agree with Baroness-Grey Thompson's call for a greater emphasis on PE as a core subject in primary schools, giving it its place alongside academic studies. We believe this approach has relevance to the rest of the UK. As significant a barrier as time in the school day is the lack of appropriate teacher training, which is not adequate as it stands in primary schools.

164.  We call for investment to be made in primary school teachers and club coaches, the link between whom is of critical importance, to create a more positive disposition to sport and physical activity in young people in the UK. This sort of change would help to reduce healthcare costs significantly in the medium term. To achieve the change, consistent review and monitoring will be necessary. (Recommendation 4)

165.  We call on the Government to require Ofsted to inspect and report on the time in the school day spent on PE, including 'out of hours' sport, in all school inspections. This would ensure that school leaders take the development of PE seriously and invest in the professional development of teachers and coaches. (Recommendation 5)

166.  In parallel and to the same end, we call on the Government to conduct a review of initial training for specialist PE teachers so that they can deliver a 21st century curriculum with the quality of PE teaching which our young people need and deserve. (Recommendation 6)

The link between schools and communities

167.  The "third big issue" identified by Baroness Campbell, that of connectivity to the wider community is also key. Schools do not exist in a vacuum and partnerships with other bodies, such as sports clubs, are critical, whether or not they receive funding from Government. A framework is needed if competitive sport is to be fostered, and in some places we heard that SSPs are still operating to achieve this.

168.  A telling statistic of the medal success at the London 2012 Games was that 36% of medallists were privately educated, despite the private sector only accounting of 7% of the school population in the UK. These figures are starker in some sports, such as rowing, where 54% of medallists were privately educated.[43] The broader composition of the squad was more balanced, as Youth Charter told us in evidence, 17% of the whole squad was privately educated[44]. Nevertheless the bare statistics imply two things: firstly that, overall, the sports facilities in independent schools are far better than those elsewhere and secondly that there is an untapped wealth of talent in the 93% of the school age population which is educated in the state sector. There seems to be clear scope for greater cooperation between the sectors, as the often world class facilities in the independent sector, including Olympic legacy facilities such as the rowing facilities at Eton Dorney, could be made to work particularly for state primary and schools in the independent school's catchment area; as a base for competitive sport between secondary schools; and also being available for fledgling local clubs to use. We are aware of examples of best practice but its further development, in keeping with the charitable status enjoyed by independent schools, would help to make better use of the infrastructure which is already there.

169.  We heard from a number of governing bodies of sports about a variety of inter-school competitions which are held. Some sports fitted less well into a the framework of a single sport event, and these have been picked up by the Sainsbury's School Games, which is a competitive school sport programme developed through a partnership comprising DCMS, DfE, DH, the BOA, the BPA, the Youth Sport Trust and Sport England. Its total funding over three years is £128 million, largely from Lottery funding. DCMS estimated the average cost to the taxpayer to be £13.20 per eligible student participating in the Games. The scheme is aimed at children and young people from seven to 19 years old and are structured on four levels of activity, which Sport England set out as:

    "Level 1—competition in schools (intra-school sport)

    Level 2—competition between schools (inter school sport),

    Level 3—competitions at county level

    Level 4—national finals event

    At a local level, the School Games are delivered by schools, clubs, CSPs and other local partners. Local organising committees have been set up, chaired by head teachers, to oversee the Level 3 county festivals. The latest results show that 17,620 schools had registered on the School Games website. In 2013 there will be 100 summer and winter festivals, with at least 150,000 competitors coming through from the level 1 and 2 competition."[45]

170.  The Government and the Mayor put these numbers in proportionate terms, telling us that "Just over half of all English schools signed up for the 2012 School Games, including around 90 per cent of secondary schools and half of primary schools. As at 3 June 2013, 17,126 schools (i.e. over 70%) had registered with the School Games."

171.  We received evidence from New College Leicester which was somewhat more sceptical about the impact of the School Games: "All the introduction of the School Games did was rebrand this approach and reshuffle individuals within the school sport system. A number of Partnership Development Managers became the School Games Organisers picking up from the work that the Competition Managers had started."[46]

172.  More broadly, Andy Reed, Chairman of the Sport and Recreation Alliance, warned of the dangers of over-emphasising competitive sport in young children, arguing that "there is a time to introduce it. It varies slightly from sport to sport. Tennis, for example, is an early-adoption sport, as is swimming, but many others you would not want to specialise in until you are into year 7, 8, 9 or 10. They are much later. If you asked me my honest opinion, it would be that you have to get primary school PE right first before introducing competitive sports."[47] He argued that PE was a necessary precursor to learning a sport: "You would not start teaching English by giving a seven year-old Shakespeare, and saying, "Right, let us go and sort this out".[48]

173.  Developing competitive sport is clearly of great value, but Baroness Campbell also highlighted the importance of widening choice for inclusion. She told us that "We moved from 25% to 90% of youngsters doing two hours of PE and sport, and that was by widening the choice and giving youngsters options that they found attractive."[49]

174.  Cooperation between schools, particularly between secondary schools, whether independent or in the state sector, and primary schools in the vicinity must continue to be fostered. Facilities, particularly in independent schools, which enjoy charitable status, must be made to work for the wider community through partnerships with other schools and clubs, not least in developing the facilities as hubs for inter-school competition.

175.  As a part of the routine inspections called for in paragraph 165, we call on Ofsted to pay close attention to primary schools' use of the Sport Premium, to ensure that schools pool resources and infrastructure wherever possible. (Recommendation 7)

176.  There are a variety of ways by which a framework for competitive sport in and between schools can be developed, ranging from the inter-school competitions organised by national governing bodies to school age events such as the School Games. Competitive sport is not, however, for every child at every stage in their development. We agree that choice must be widened in order to encourage the greatest possible number of young people to find a form of physical activity which they will enjoy and sustain.

Young people with disabilities

177.  The Taking Part Survey data for the participation of children aged five to ten years, who have a limiting disability is gloomy. The Government and Mayor told us that "In 20011/12 81.4 per cent of children with a limiting disability reported having done some sport in the last 4 weeks, compared to 89.6 per cent for children with no disabilities." The Government emphasised the role of the Sainsbury's School Games in improving access to local competitive sport for young people with disabilities through the Project Ability scheme, currently involving a network of 50 lead schools and involving 5,000 young disabled people. The scheme had five facets:

    "   Providing disability-specific training for School Games Organisers

·  Establishing even more local competitive opportunities for young disabled people

·  Working with sports to design inclusive sports formats

·  Including disability sport across all levels of the School Games

·  Sustaining young people's participation through the development of school club activities."[50]

178.  The Youth Sport Trust set up the Project Ability scheme, which it described as "an outstanding success" in opening up competitive school sport to young disabled people. The central concept of Project Ability is the development of the lead schools as centres of excellence, with teachers being trained as "peer teachers" to spread best practice.[51]

179.  The difference between the levels of participation between young children with a limiting disability and those without is unacceptably stark and the scale of the challenge is vast. We welcome the Project Ability scheme as step in the right direction, and over time we expect it to be expanded to extend the opportunities to competitive sport more widely than at present.

33   Education Committee, School Sport following London 2012: No more political football (3rd Report, Session 2013-14, HC 164-I). Back

34   Q 156 Back

35   Q 461 Back

36   The Government and the Mayor of London. Back

37   Q 480 Back

38   Youth Charter. Back

39   Q 156 Back

40   Available at Back

41   Q 136 Back

42   Q 153 Back

43   Available at Back

44   Youth Charter. Back

45   Sport England. Back

46   New College Leicester. Back

47   Q 82 Back

48   IbidBack

49   Q 160 Back

50   The Government and the Mayor of London. Back

51   Youth Trust. Back

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