Competitive school sports to be compulsory

Prime Minister David Cameron has announced that competitive team sports will be made compulsory for primary pupils in a new curriculum in the autumn. But he’s also said some teachers don’t want to join in, leading to criticism from teaching unions that his comments are foolhardy and unfair.

London Mayor Boris Johnson sparked off the debate over school sport when he said that school children should be made to do two hours of sport a day as part of the Olympics legacy. Now David Cameron has unveiled plans for a new national curriculum for primary schools with an explicit reference to competitive team sports, the BBC reports.

“We need to end the ‘all must have prizes’ culture and get children playing and enjoying competitive sports from a young age, linking them up with sports clubs so they can pursue their dreams,” Mr Cameron said. “That’s why the new national curriculum in the autumn will include a requirement for primary schools to provide competitive sport.”

Philip Collins, a former speech writer for Tony Blair, said that the plans were ‘effectively reinstating’ the Schools Sports Partnership programme, which was cut by the Coalition government in 2010, and that playing competitive sport for a school was ‘intrinsically exclusive’.

Last week teaching unions responded angrily to the Prime Minister’s criticism of teachers for refusing to play their part in running school sports, The Independent reports.

David Cameron said a lack of money wasn’t the cause: “The problem has been too many schools not wanting to have competitive sport, some teachers not wanting to join in and play their part. We need a big cultural change – a cultural change in favour of competitive sports.”

Christine Blower, general secretary of the NUT, said he failed to realise that he was ‘the architect of a worsening situation’: “It’s not because of teachers that funding for the School Sports Partnership has been so drastically reduced. What we need is the support of Government, not the shifting of blame.”

Meanwhile official figures have shown that Education Secretary Michael Gove has approved the sale of more than 20 school sports fields in the past two years, despite the Coalition’s pledge to protect school playing fields in England. ASCL deputy general secretary Malcolm Trobe said school sports need the right funding and facilities: “Obviously, the selling off of playing fields by both major political parties has not been a good step.”

Do you think competitive school sports should be compulsory? And was David Cameron right to criticise teachers?

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