UK & World News

  • 20 June 2014, 4:46

Lack Of Competitive Sport 'Harming' Pupils

Failure to give pupils the chance to play competitive sports has an impact on their education, the schools watchdog Ofsted has warned.

The chief inspector of schools, Sir Michael Wilshaw, believes too many schools are treating the chance to compete as "an optional extra" when it should be a priority.

The research was carried out after it emerged that more than 40% of the country's Olympic medals were won by former independent school pupils at London 2012, despite only 7% of all children attending fee-paying schools.

Sir Michael said: "What this report clearly shows is that where there is a clear determination for schools to be the best, even though their facilities may not be great, they find a way - whether it's finding a nearby sports field to use or swimming pool - so where there is a real commitment it works, and where there isn't a commitment, it doesn't."

Double Olympic gold medallist Rebecca Adlington, who went to a state school, believes her competitive streak helped her way from the pool.

"I started swimming competitively when I was 11 and yet my education was very important to me and it made me focus more in class," she told Sky News.

"I had more energy, I was able to focus and learnt time management from an early age and for me sport had given me much more than those Olympic medals."

At Fearnhill School in Letchworth, Hertfordshire, the importance of competition is also understood.

Gold medal winning Olympic cyclist Victoria Pendleton was a former student.

Head of PE Simon Lawrence said: "Participation is important but I think that that drive to win is crucial and it's transferable into other areas of life ... job interviews, exam results."

But he said it was impossible to compare the facilities available at independent schools with what his pupils have available.

"A lot of private schools have outstanding facilities and extra coaches that help them," he said.

"I think the opportunities that pupils get at private schools are far greater to try some of these sports. A lot of pupils at this school never have the chance to try rowing for example."

And at his school, sport teachers already spend about two nights a week working late to hold clubs and attend fixtures, as well as having sessions in lunch breaks.

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