Airbrushing state teachers out of sporting achievement is “mean, unjust” and prejudiced

Janet Downs's picture
Airbrushing the tens of thousands of state school teachers who spend hours of their time on sports activities out of the national picture is “mean, unjust and reveals a class prejudice that should have died out with the Romanovs,” writes TES editor, Gerard Kelly.

Kelly rightly praises all British Olympians whose inspirational success has received adulation but describes as “appalling” that some politicians spewed out “the same tired myths about unsporting teaching.” Unfortunately, it wasn’t just politicians – media commentators jumped on the bandwagon to take pot-shots at sport in state schools. Even Murdoch tweeted an ignorant comment about how the Chinese were topping the Olympic league tables while “US and UK mainly teach competitive sport a bad thing.”

Really? Are our politicians and their media supporters so blinkered and boorish that they ignore the reports which appear continually in local papers about sporting competitions between schools? On an earlier thread I pointed out praiseworthy work done in local schools in one small part of Lincolnshire and Rutland in just one week. Several of these were competitive sporting events including the Leicestershire Primary Cross Country League championships. Activities like these take place nationally but politicians and their press chums prefer to overlook them just as they snub the state school teachers who inspired Mo Farah, Bradley Wiggins and Jessica Ennis.

But how supportive is the Government of sport in state schools? It was Michael Gove who scrapped the annual school sport survey which found out the kinds of sport on offer and how many pupils were taking part. It was Michael Gove who said schools did not have to adhere to targets brought in by the previous Labour Government which required five hours of sport a week. Instead he decided to “trust teachers and parents” to decide how much sport pupils should do. It was Michael Gove who cut funding for Schools Sports Partnerships which organized inter-school competitions. And it was under Tory governments that the bulk of the now-lost schools fields were sold.

Instead of sneering at sport in state schools, TES editor Kelly says if the Government wants state schools to emulate the success of independents then it should provide cash. I would add that mean-minded politicians and hacks should celebrate all sporting achievements not just those of a select few. They should remember that sporting excellence depends on many things: aptitude, opportunity, support and, above all, dedication and sheer hard work from the athletes themselves. The achievement of these dedicated young people should not be high-jacked to score petty political points.

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Rebecca Hanson's picture
Sun, 12/08/2012 - 09:51

Murdoch is not an expert on English State Education?

Well I never did. I just wish Michael Gove didn't either.

Janet Downs's picture
Sun, 12/08/2012 - 10:19

Not content with raising the tired myth about anti-competitiveness in English state schools to the Tories earlier this year, the PM dug himself into a deeper hole by saying that many schools met their sports targets by offering something which wasn't sport like "Indian Dancing." His attempt to downplay his remarks can be heard on the link below.

The PM and many of his supporters haven't quite grasped the importance of sport in schools - it's not just about nurturing athletes capable of winning Olympic gold. It's more to do with keeping fit and exercising. This can be achieved by dance as well as by charging around a muddy field in the depth of winter. And according to the PM's logic non-competitive activities such as yoga, t'ai chi, aerobics and so on would have no place in the curriculum.

It's easy for the PM and his rival Boris to talk about two hours of compulsory (competitive) sport a day because they went to boarding schools where the staff have to find something for their pupils to do when other children are with their families.

Janet Downs's picture
Sun, 12/08/2012 - 11:58

The Open University has Olympic-themed items including a quiz to find your ideal Olympic sports and a free, short course on Working with Young People in Sport and Exercise. The course investigates, among other things, the implications of height and weight changes for training, selection and potential for injury, and the importance of appropriate, age-specific training.

Perhaps all politicians and commentators who make ill-informed remarks about schools, young people and sport should take the course.

Janet Downs's picture
Tue, 14/08/2012 - 15:31

Channel4 factcheck investigated the PM's claim that £1billion was going to spent on school sports in the next 4 years. £1 billion is allocated to the youth sport strategy but only £200million of that was going directly to schools.

FactCheck concluded that the PM’s “been a little disingenuous” when he claimed that sport is still compulsory in schools because academies can opt-out of the national curriculum. And a Freedom of Information request showed that since Gove reduced school sports partnerships, sports provision in schools has declined.

Janet Downs's picture
Tue, 14/08/2012 - 15:47

FullFact also looked at school sports by investigating Stephen Twigg’s claims that by the end of Labour’s period in office at least 90% of children spend two hours or more in PE lessons or doing sport outside of school. Twigg claimed this was up from only 25%. Fullfact found that the School Sport Surveys showed the 90% figure was correct but couldn’t substantiate the 25% claim.

FullFact pointed out that the number of hours of curriculum PE didn’t necessarily reflect the number of hours actually doing sport and that the activities might not be competitive. FullFact concluded, “So even given the high levels of sports participation evident from the sports survey, we can't say for certain how exactly the pupils' time would have been spent.”

Unfortunately, Gove has scrapped the annual school sports survey so it will no longer be possible to find out how much time children spend on sport.

It looks as if the Coalition has scored several own goals regarding sport in state schools.

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