School sport at risk, says Labour

Children running race Labour wants "tough" action to boost sport and PE in schools

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Labour says the government has risked "salami slicing" school sport by abolishing a requirement that all pupils do at least two hours PE a week.

The party is calling for "tough action" to deliver a schools' sport legacy to match the success of the Olympics.

It says recent data suggests just more than about half of children do this much exercise, down from 90% in 2010.

The government said it was putting competitive sport at the heart of the new national curriculum.

In a new action plan, launched ahead of Sunday's BBC Sports Personality of the year final, Labour calls for the two-hour a week of PE requirement to be reinstated.

Field protection

It argues that the government's reducing of protection for school playing fields has also risked damage to pupils' physical education.

The plan calls for Ofsted to focus more closely on inspecting sport provision in all schools including academies and free schools. This would include looking at outdoor facilities and checking how many hours of sport each school provides for pupils.

Start Quote

"The two-hour target was never a rule. It was an unenforceable aspiration that schools were free to ignore”

End Quote Department for Education

The party says that in 2010 figures from the School Sport Survey, which has since been abolished, showed that 90% of children did two hours of sport each week.

It compares this with figures from a poll of parents published last month by the Chance to Shine campaign which suggested that 54% thought their children did less than this each week. Some 81% said the amount of school PE on offer had stayed the same or dropped since the Games.

A Department for Education spokesman said: "The two-hour target was never a rule. It was an unenforceable aspiration that schools were free to ignore.

"We are freeing teachers from such unnecessary targets and paperwork which take up too much time better used in the classroom or at the running track."

'Competitive' culture

He said the government was "putting competitive sport at the heart of the new school curriculum" as well as extending the School Games and spending £1bn on youth sport over the next five years.

Tim Lamb of the Sport and Recreation Alliance said the two hours a week target should be the "bare minimum", adding that despite many outstanding initiatives school sport was "an issue still in need of a great deal of attention".

"With recent reports stating that one in three children leaving primary school are either classed as obese or overweight, how many more startling figures about the health of the youngest section of our population do we need to hear before something is done?"

Shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg said: "Getting the next generation into the habit of staying physically active throughout their lives starts in our schools. As well as discovering the Olympic champions of the future, school sport can improve health, wellbeing and academic attainment."

He also said the government had scrapped the school sport survey to hide the damage its policies were doing to school sports and PE.

Clive Efford, the shadow sports minister, added that he would be canvassing views on a national sports strategy at a series of regional summits: "Following the Olympics and Paralympics there is a great deal of enthusiasm for sport, but we lack the structure to deliver this at community level."

A spokeswoman for Ofsted said that its schools inspectors did not look at every subject in detail "for this reason, Ofsted also carries out national curriculum subject surveys and publishes a range of triennial reports including those for PE".


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  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    I'm politically neutral but can I just put you straight on this?....According to the National Archives the conservatives sold an estimated 10,000 school fields between 1979 & 1997 then Labout sold 192 school fields between 1997 & 2008....Just facts it seems!

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    Another attempt by a weak Labour Party to gain support. They, like the government, have no remedies for the bigger issues, so they keep stabbing away at the peripheries, in the hope of gaining popularity.
    If they're serious about gaining support, they need to find a leader, and get rid of the feeble, phony excuse of one that they have now.
    At least, that would be a start.

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    Surprised to hear criticism that the tories are anti-school sports. I bet most of them loved a bit of Rugger and Lacrosse on the acres of land at their private schools.

    As for Labour, this is another attempt to appeal to the masses forgetting that they also ignored the issue whilst in gov't.

    There both as bad as each other, in the meantime, childhood obesity continues to rise.

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    It is simple, you don't need some stupid govt target for sports.
    If you are a parent and you want your child to do sport, send them to a club! Or they can sign up at school. It's really not that expensive and will do wonders for your child's health and for you.
    Take personal responsibility over your family. Only you can make the difference, not the damned govt.

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    Take politics of schools - make them all independent.

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    The term PE should be changed to PA (physical activity) with a more modern, fun approach. It could include yoga, pilates, aerobics, jazzercise or zumba that children can continue at home.

    As for sports, there are legions of grown-ups who were humilated as children or excluded from sports because they couldn't climb ropes or run around in freezing weather or keep up with those of natural abililty.

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    I am not a Tory supporter but this is a bit rich coming from labour.
    They were the ones who stoped competitive sports in schools,started to sell off playing fields,which the Tories continue to do.
    As the native Americans would say."they speak with forked tongue".

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    39.Billybob what a good tory you are never knowing the truth, go do a simple search you will find its compulsory to do PE in Swedish schools between 12 and 15.
    In fact if you bothered to check real facts you would find out it has been compulsory in Swedish schools since 1842!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    Says Labour when in Power sold off all the School Playing Fields

  • rate this

    Comment number 51., is this the same Labour party who while in government under Messrs Bliar and Brown sold off numerous school playing fields? I think we should be told.

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    45 pip

    Thank you for your well reasoned and politically mature contribution.

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    Sport would have more of a legacy if Labour hadn't sold off all the sports/playing fields for new housing developments in the boom years. Plus all the money spent on the Olympics could have gone into schools, including school sports, which would have IMHO been a better use for it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    38piroflip "...left wing CRANKS. May god help us if they ever get into power again." Reducing issues to simple binary positions, with personal favourites dressed up as arguments, is unhelpful. Attitudes like this will never solve anything.

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.


    It's called being a well rounded individual. Physical excercise plays an important part in developing the brain so don't knock it. Working as part of a team and fine tuning skills uses a part of the brain that maybe useful later in life. You have the rest of your adult years sitting on your fat behind reading books. At least sports might encourage you to stay fit in mind and body

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    I cannot listen to anymore rubbish spoken in the house of commons , its like a childrens playground ! when will our politicians stop trying to score party points and get on with the business of looking after the country , we are in a huge hole and they keep on digging , im disgusted with all parties and so sad to think we have been sold to the EU so why are we paying this lot. to much PC and HR .

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    There is no end to labours nonsense,exactly what was the gurning idiot willihand doing when in Bliars and brown the bigots government

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    @30.KLM: I see you like to just make up stories. Where is your evidence? When will you give us your evidence showing all playing fields were sold by labour councils?

    When will you give us your evidence showing labour councils or the labour govt forced school governing bodies to sell its playing fields?

    Come on show us your evidence, or is it that your comments are just Tory political tosh?

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    When I turned up for my one-&-only Sports Day before I left school, I brought my usual running kit - plimpsoles. I was very surprised to see other kids had turned up in the latest nike runners & one joker was there wearing spiked running shoes. I made it through the heats to the final - where the boy wearing the nike's won & the boy wearing the spikes, spiked himself & was carried off to hospital!

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    I do wish people on HYS would stop blaming political parties' actions of the past, or even present. They are ALL as bad as each other. It is time that, for the sake of the future, held in the palm of current teachers and their prodigies, we realised education is much more important to the solving of economic crises than gay-marriage issues and/or immigration problems. Think ahead, not in reverse!

  • Comment number 41.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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