Comprehensive pupils excel at sport

Nigel Ford's picture
The pessimists on the right tell us that since the decline of grammar schools, there has been a private sector dominance in all facets of life from politics, business, science to the arts and sport, as state pupils can no longer compete with their counterparts in the independent sector, because the quality of comprehensive education has put an end to social mobility.

This opinion is largely based on prejudice rather than facts, as the Conservative party has less representation from private schools than ever before and the majority of Labour MPs and Shadow Ministers are alumni of comprehensive schools.

This week a 13 year old boy was in the national news with a record breaking experiment as he attained nuclear fusion from scratch from a nuclear reactor built in the science lab at his comprehensive school in Preston. A fantastic achievement.

In sport, while football at all levels has always been monopolised by working class lads, the comprehensive sector is now starting to dominate in rugby union as the starting line up for England's match against Wales contains 13 out of 15 players from comprehensive schools, whereas this well heeled sport has previously been a bastion for former public schoolboys

And this success has come hot on the heels of the superb showing of our comprehensive educated Olympians who won no fewer than 14 out 18 individual gold medals, while there was a clean sweep in swimming and track/field athletics with all 7 medallists coming up through the comprehensive route. Both Mo Farah and Jess Ennis have paid tribute to their PE teachers for the launching of their careers.

So despite the facilities, specialised coaching staff and bursaries offered to talented young sportspeople within the private sector, the comprehensive competitors are more than holding their own due to the dedication of parents and staff within their schools.

Nor should it be forgotten that our comprehensive Olympians also seemed to hold gold medals when it came to academia with sculls winners Anna Watkins and Kath Grainger both studing for PhDs in Maths and Medical Law respectively. There were several other champions who had degrees from Russell Group universities.
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John Mountford's picture
Thu, 06/03/2014 - 18:04

Nigel, thanks for putting this on the record. It is such a powerful rebuttal of the eyewash spoken about the failure of the comprehensive system that flows from those ignorant of the facts. The shame is that so many of these schools responsible for producing such noteworthy achievements, may end up in the hands of unscrupulous academy chains seeking to take education down the route of profit-first. Already, evidence of this is being uncovered here and elsewhere as our political leaders of the left, right and centre sleep-walk into a future they will soon have lost complete control over.

Adrian Elliott's picture
Thu, 06/03/2014 - 18:54

Excellent post!

Janet Downs's picture
Fri, 07/03/2014 - 08:45

Added to the list of comprehensive school Olympians is Louis Smith - gymnast AND winner of Strictly Come Dancing.

He was diagnosed with ADHD as a child but the training regime helped him cope.

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