School competitive team sports move unveiled

  • 11 August 2012
  • From the section UK
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Children running on an athletics track
Image caption Questions have been asked about how to harness the enthusiasm created from the Olympic Games

Competitive team sports will be made compulsory for all primary school children in England, Prime Minister David Cameron has said.

A draft new curriculum this autumn would require participation in sports such as football, hockey and netball.

Mr Cameron has been urged to set out how he intends to secure a sporting legacy from the London 2012 Olympics.

Labour leader Ed Miliband has called on political parties to work together on a 10-year plan to boost sports activity.

'Recognisable sports'

The prime minister has pointed to a £1bn fund for youth sport, but the government has been criticised for scrapping a target of two hours physical education a week for school children.

London Mayor Boris Johnson has called for two hours a day of compulsory sport.

Mr Cameron said earlier this week schools often saw the two-hour target as a maximum and told the BBC that Indian dance was being counted as physical education.

On Saturday he said the national curriculum for primary schools in England would be rewritten with an explicit reference to competitive team sports.

The new curriculum will make it compulsory to take part in "recognised and recognisable sports" and will set out requirements for "team outdoor and adventurous activity".

Mr Cameron said: "The idea of an Olympics legacy has been built into the DNA of London 2012 from the very beginning.

"Now the London Olympics has been a great success, we need to use the inspiration of the Games to get children playing sport more regularly."

'Pursue dreams'

He added: "I want to use the example of competitive sport at the Olympics to lead a revival of competitive sport in primary schools.

"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.

"That's why the new national curriculum in the autumn will include a requirement for primary schools to provide competitive sport."

But Philip Collins, a former speech writer for Tony Blair, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme Mr Cameron's analysis was "about 20 years out of date" and the plans were "effectively reinstating" the Schools Sports Partnership programme - set up by Labour, and cut by the Tories in 2010.

He went on to say playing competitive sport for a school was "intrinsically exclusive" and it was "perfectly sensible to have lots of other physical activities for children who loathed PE".

Damian Hinds, Conservative MP for East Hampshire, said competitive sport taught children "the power of a team, pushing yourself, and learning that life involves losing some things as well as winning".

Under the last government, only two in five children took part in competitive sports within schools, with one in five regularly taking part in competitive sport with other schools, he added.

The National Association of Head Teachers has called for further investment in a wide range of school sports.

But it said the government should not seek to dictate the specific games that are played.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the head teachers' union, said: "London 2012 has drawn the nation's attention to the sheer breadth of sports on offer and an enduring legacy would be to see the government promote these, thereby ensuring children enjoy participating at every level. The message is diversity."

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