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THOUGHT LEADERS INDUSTRY EXPERTS SHARE THEIR VIEWS ON THE CURRENT ISSUES AFFECTING SPORT


The £150m school sport pledge John Goodbody reports on


T


he government’s announcement that £150m is to be allocated in each of the next two years towards improving coaching for youngsters


in primary schools in the UK has generally been hailed with enthusiasm by national governing bodies of sport. A typical primary school with 250


pupils is expected to receive £9,250 per year. This is the equivalent of around two days a week of a primary school teacher or a coach’s time, enough, in fact, it’s claimed, that to ensure that every pupil does sport with a specialist. The funding, announced by Prime Minister David Cam- eron, will be ring-fenced for sport but it will be the heads and teachers who will decide how this money is to be allocat- ed. It can be specialist coaching, teacher training, sports clubs or support for af- ter-school or week-end competitions. So far so good. The Prime Minister had


obviously been so excited by the success of the London Olympics that he felt duty bound to give further support to sport in Britain. Although there were complaints that this money would better have been announced last autumn, in fact, with the school year beginning at that time, it would have been impossible to have or- ganised any provision for its introduction until September 2013. In addition, it needed some months


of consultation between the different government departments to ensure the programme can go ahead, with Sport England investing £1.5m a year of lottery funding through county sport partner- ships to help primary schools link up with local coaches and clubs. It has long been recognised that


there are far too few teachers in pri- mary schools with the necessary training


Issue 1 2013 © cybertrek 2013


Swimming is described as the only subject on the national curriculum which could save a life


There are two fundamental activities that should be taught extensively at primary school - athletics and swimming


– quite understandably, since they’re not specialists – to give pupils the necessary grounding in sport up to the age of 11. What concerns me is whether the money is going to be spent in the best way, if it just gives pupils some brief insight into an arbitrary selection of sports. There are two fundamental activities


which should be taught extensively to primary school children – swimming and gymnastics. Although the announcement mentioned that swimming remained part of the national curriculum, where, at least, it is usually taught by specialists, one wants to be sure that all pupils leav- ing school at the age of 11 do in fact fulfil the minimum requirement of swimming 25m on their front and back and are also taught water safety. As Jon Glenn, head


of the Learn to Swim award at the Ama- teur Swimming Association, said: “It is the only subject on the National Curriculum, which could save a pupil’s life.” The experience of gymnastics is vital so


that children acquire a physical literacy, which can be transferred to other activi- ties when they are older, in the same way that they learn to read, write and deal with numbers in the early stages in school so that the skills can be applied in other subjects later on. One hopes that when heads and


teachers examine how they’re going to use this money from the government, that they bear in mind the long-term physical development of their pupils, rather than just short-term interest in traditional team sports. ●


Read Sports Management online sportsmanagement.co.uk/digital 7


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