UK

Olympics opens debate about teaching sports in schools

Olympics fever has gripped the UK in the past fortnight. As the medal tally has grown, so too has debate surrounding the teaching of sports in Britain's schools.

David Cameron this week called for more focus on competitive sports in schools, whilst London Mayor Boris Johnson said that he'd like to see schools have a compulsory two hours of sport daily.

Here, BBC news website readers share their views on sport in Britain's schools.

Matt Lee, London

We need to think about how to involve more children in sport from an early age.

In an ideal world, kids would be taking part in sports activities every day at school. It helps them concentrate on their academic subjects. But teachers have enough on their plates already. They need more of an incentive to run after school clubs and more support too.

The problem is that encouraging a competive ethos may push some children to a professional level, but the majority of children are excluded from reaching this level. Only a tiny percentage of children will go on to be Olympians.

Kids that aren't as talented in sport may feel inadequate and become discouraged from taking part.

School teams work well - but only for those good enough to get into the teams. Focusing on teams can encourage kids not to get involved.

Kids really need to find something that they enjoy. Variety is important. If they enjoy a sport, they are more likely to stick at it and stay fit.

When I was in sixth form we ran a badminton club for younger students and the teachers supervised it. The kids and older students both got a lot out of this. Passing on skills is something that should be encouraged.

Simon Scarborough, Bath

I'm a PE teacher and believe that the approach to physical education and sport in many schools needs to change.

The traditional way of delivering sports in schools is to focus on developing physical and motor skills, for example heading a ball or mastering the push-pass in hockey. Physical education needs to concentrate more on the holistic development of a child.

I work in a school that has a big emphasis on PE and sees it as a key part of the curriculum. We produce resilient and happy learners that study better in the classroom.

In physical education lessons, situations arise where students experience small amounts of failure. Teachers have to make students aware of how to handle this and it can act as a scaffolding for them to accept and manage failure in other situations.

Each child is different and has different abilities. PE lessons should reflect this. They have to be inclusive.

There needs to be at least two hours of high quality PE for kids each day at school. More PE teachers are needed in schools so that this can be delivered and so that extra-curricular sports activities can be offered too.

The focus shouldn't be on first-rate facilities. If teachers adopt a good approach to providing and teaching physical education in schools, the facilities shouldn't matter.

Debbie Gale, Cornwall

I agree that investment in sport should be put into primary schools but it must not be limited to team sports.

I teach in a multicultural school with a number of children with special needs. Some have social and communication difficulties and some have English as a second language. These children can struggle with team sports but shouldn't be excluded because of this.

My two boys are both on the autistic spectrum and they love sports, but they prefer individual ones. My eldest son loves to play football, but his favourite position is goal keeper because it allows him to work on his own. He is also top of his class in gymnastics.

Surely our job is to inspire and motivate children to get involved in sports that they are interested in, whether they are team or individual sports? All children can take part in activities such as gymnastics, trampolining, cycling or athletics at different levels.

We must focus on opening the eyes of our children and giving them the experience of a wide range of sports.

Rachel Austen, Lancashire

I think it is a fantastic idea that school sport is made competitive. Introducing children to competition from primary school age will develop their competitive streak and give them the desire to win.

I am a parent and my child couldn't join a school sports team until Year 5 (age 10.) I think children should be encouraged to take up competitive sports at a much earlier stage in their education.

I also agree with China's way of seeking out talented young people using the 'scouting system'. School teachers need to have better links with clubs so that they can help children develop their skill and talent even further.

I work for Chorley Council Sports Development team, where we have great links with clubs and we understand clear exit routes for children. It is so important to 'pick up' those children who are talented, especially those with little support, for example, from deprived areas or with non sporty parents.

I really hope there will be more investment in sport, so that we can develop more future athletes. I really hope the Olympic legacy is fulfilled.

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