Friday, 10 August 2012

Indian dancing? School sports factcheck please...

Here's a sweet fact-check on the Government's sports-in-schools policy from Phil Collins of The Times:

"By the time Mr Major left office only 25 per cent of children were doing an hour of sport each week. 

The school sport survey, carried out by the Department for Education, shows that in 2009-10 nine out of ten children were doing at least two hours of sport a week. The vast majority of this activity was competitive. Half of all pupils played for their school against another school. 

Of course, the more competitive that sport truly is, the more it excludes people who are no good. The objective that sport should be competitive cuts across the objective that all should join in. But, in any case, for the slower, weaker and lower, 99 per cent of all schools had a sports day. 

In the context of rising participation and a good estate, the Government has set about making a proper mess. The coalition inherited a programme called School Sport Partnerships, which has helped to organise sport in schools, especially in primaries. 

The £162 million cost was cut at once, in the 2010 Comprehensive Spending Review, to £50 million. This will fall again, to £9 million in 2013. 

Even this stay of execution was granted only because prominent sports people forced the Education Secretary to relent on his initial desire to abolish the whole thing. This is not a policy compatible with the Prime Minister’s stated desire to have a mass sporting legacy from London 2012. 

Ofsted is working on a report, to be published in the autumn, which will be the first indication that cuts to the programme are having a detrimental effect on school sport. It will, unfortunately, be impossible to verify the inspectorate’s verdict, as the Government, in its wisdom, no longer collects the data. 

It has abolished the survey that tells us what is going on. 

So Mr Cameron can happily persist with half-remembered anecdotes as data because nobody, including the Education Department and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, will really know."

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