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he prominence in Britain’s sport- ing landscape of former pupils of independent schools is again likely

to be a topic of debate after the Olympic Games. If a high proportion of medallists are once more privately-educated, then more questions will be asked about how to improve standards in state schools. At the 2000 Olympics, there were 56

British medal winners, of whom 13 were former public school pupils. In 2004, the figures were 54 and 15. These increased in Beijing to 72 and 27 or 37.5 per cent. About 7 percent of British schoolchildren are privately educated. A recently published book ‘Physical Edu-

cation and Sport in Independent Schools’ lists 720 former privately-educated pupils, who have been senior internationals in all sports since 2000. They included 13 of the 31 members of England’s 2003 Rugby Union World Cup-winning squad and

leading members of England’s success- ful Test cricket team, including Andrew Strauss, Alastair Cook and Matt Prior. Even in football, where leading clubs

are overwhelmingly the product of the maintained sector, there are more than 20 public school-educated profession- al players, such as Frank Lampard from Brentwood. This figure is the highest ever. David Cameron recently asked: ”Why is

it that in so many schools, sport has been squeezed out and facilities run down? The result is that independent schools produce more than their fair share of medal winners and too many children think taking part in sport is not for them.” One advantage for many private

schools is better facilities. For instance, Millfield is the only school in the country with a 50m swimming pool, Eton has the rowing lake used for the 2006 Games and Queenswood in Hertfordshsire, arguably

the best girls’ school for sport in Britain, has 27 tennis courts, including 12 clay, on which European Junior Championships have been played. Furthermore, many of these schools have more regular access to highly-qualified coaches. Dr Malcolm Tozer, the editor of the

book, says: ”Independent schools have valued sport for 150 years. It is part of their tradition. Sport is regarded as important by parents, former pupils, teachers, heads and governors. It would be inconceivable for independent schools not to take sport seriously.” Surely now the target must be to raise

the level of sporting ability of more pu- pils in the maintained sector. John Goodbody has covered 11 successive Olympic Games for the Sunday Times @thesundaytimes



ondon has chosen to use the in- spiration of a home Games to motivate more people to make

sport a part of their lives. And as we head towards the Olympic and Paralym- pic Games, it is beginning to happen, with the number of people playing sport hitting a record 15.3 million, around 1.3 million more than when we won the bid. The increase is driven by a stronger fo-

cus on giving consumers what they want from sport, backed by significant invest- ment. We still have more work to do with the under 25s, which is why we have adopted a new youth strategy, and are challenging all the sports we fund to ex- plain how they will increase participation in this age group in their four-year plans we are considering for funding in 2013. The extraordinary sport performances

this summer will shine a spotlight on some individual sports we rarely see on TV and

some are already starting to reap the benefits. Hockey for example, through its Hockey Nation campaign and its version of the Torch Relay – the Big Dribble – has increased participation by 25,000 in the latest Active People Survey results. Alongside the work of the individual

sports we fund, Sport England’s Places People Play legacy programme is bring- ing the magic of the Games into the heart of local communities. Already, more than 850 sports clubs, facilities and playing fields have benefited from £70m of this National Lottery investment. This includes an additional 370 local

clubs who have just learned that they are receiving money from the Inspired Facilities fund. The investment is breath- ing new life into tired facilities that can be expensive to run, difficult to maintain and ultimately deter people from playing sport.

8 Read Sports Management online Our Sportivate ini-

tiative has inspired more than 80,000 14- to 25-year-olds to find a sport they enjoy through a series of weekly coaching sessions. Crucially, they’re helped to find somewhere to keep on playing once these sessions are over. More than 16,000 people have also

been inspired to make sport happen in their local community with the help of our Sport Makers programme. There’s still some way to go and increas-

ing participation among young people remains a challenge. But grassroots sport is heading in the right direction and we have the will, the money and the exper- tise to continue to help more people to create a sporting habit for life. Jennie Price, CEO, Sport England @sport_england

Issue 3 2012 © cybertrek 2012

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