Olympics: Ministers seek to boost 'patchy' sports provision


Hunt: "It's important to have some perspective - we're third in the medals table"

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School sports provision is "patchy" and ministers want to boost participation on the back of Team GB's Olympic success, the culture secretary says.

Jeremy Hunt said ministers wanted to ensure the "best examples are spread throughout the country" and have backed an Olympic-style event for schools.

His comments come after the British Olympic Association (BOA) called for a "step change" in sports policy.

Meanwhile, GB's showjumpers have won gold after a jump-off with the Dutch.

The four-man team - Nick Skelton, Ben Maher, Scott Brash and Peter Charles - secured Great Britain's first showjumping gold since the 1952 Helsinki Games by posting the best three scores out of four.

Team GB gymnast Beth Tweddle earlier won a bronze medal in the uneven bars final.

The 27-year old has held four world titles and is the most decorated British gymnast but this final is likely to be her last appearance at international level.

Elsewhere, a 34-year old man has pleaded not guilty to a public order offence, after a bottle was thrown onto the track at the start of the men's Olympic 100m final on Sunday.

Ashley Gill-Webb, from South Milford near Leeds, was granted conditional bail at Stratford Magistrates' Court and told he would face trial at Thames Magistrates' Court on 3 September.

Olympic legacy

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Mr Hunt, said "primary schools is where it all starts and catching people young is incredibly important" but he accepted pupils faced "an element of luck", for example in terms of having an inspirational teacher.

"At the moment school sport provision is patchy in some places and we need to do what we can to make sure that the very best examples are spread throughout the whole country and this is absolutely going to be a focus over the next few months and one of the things we really want to take away from these Games," he said.

Olympics coverage online

Olympics images

The Department for Education allocates funding for school sports provision in England, while the devolved administrations take on the responsibility in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Downing Street said the government was committed to ensuring the Games had a lasting legacy and was spending £1bn on a five-year youth sports strategy.

Asked whether the funding for grassroots sports would remain the same, a spokesman said it did not intend to "conduct a spending review now".

Liz Nicholl, chief executive of UK Sport, the body responsible for allocating public funding to elite athletes, told the BBC the success of any high performance system "depends on the right level of investment".

"We can provide those inspirational moments through the success of the athletes in order to inspire the youngsters, but we do have to invest in schools, in teachers, in coaches, in talent to achieve that success," she added.

Labour says coalition cuts have "destroyed" its efforts.

In other developments:

The weekend saw Team GB pick up eight gold medals after wins for the likes of Andy Murray in tennis and Jessica Ennis in the heptathlon.

Lord Moynihan said inspiration needed to be "translated into participation".

Olympic TV viewing figures

  • 20 million people watched Usain Bolt retain the 100m title - the highest audience of the live sporting action so far
  • Mo Farah's 10,000 metre triumph peaked at 17.1 million
  • The climax of the heptathlon with Jessica Ennis taking gold pulled in an audience of 16.3 million
  • Swimmer Rebecca Adlington's bronze in the 800m final attracted an audience of 11.3 million
  • Andy Murray's win over Roger Federer at Wimbledon - to clinch gold in the men's singles tennis - was seen by a peak audience of 10.7 million
  • The Olympics Opening Ceremony peaked at 26.9 million at 9.45pm, with over 20 million people still watching at midnight

Mr Hunt told the BBC Team GB was third in the Olympics medals table and this showed the model of funding sport through the National Lottery set up by the Tories in the 1990s had been a "great success".

He said "other countries are now looking at our sport funding model and seeing what they can learn".

He said the School Games, which saw primaries and secondaries from across the UK compete against each other at the Olympic Park in May, attracted about half of all schools.

Former sports minister Richard Caborn said Lord Moynihan had overlooked Labour's investment in sport.

Lord Coe, London 2012 chairman, told a news conference that "solid and strong legacy foundations" were in now place and the government needed to "recognise that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" to capitalise on the increase in sporting interest.

The double Olympic gold medal winner said he was initially inspired to take up running by a geography teacher who "spotted in me clearly a talent that wasn't being fully expressed on the football pitch or the rugby pitch".


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  • rate this

    Comment number 437.

    schools will never create sport stars of the future unless they bring back extra curricular sports activities like we had twenty years ago.

  • rate this

    Comment number 436.

    Does this mean we're going back to having winners and losers again?

  • rate this

    Comment number 435.

    Why do people think ALL kids like SPORT at school. I hated it and I know alot of people hated it. I was put in goal for Hockey. I used to get out of the way when I saw them all come towards me, I could not care less who got a goal.

  • rate this

    Comment number 434.

    Forget the Olympics & winning medals

    Forget the politics

    Forget what academics say about competition being counter-productive

    Forget what the H&S hand-wringers say about contact sports

    Just get kids out playing games and enjoying themselves.
    The occasional sprain, bruise or abrasion is all part of it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 433.

    While I appreciate the sentiment of this, I can't help but remember how I hated PE at school - not for a lack of 'inspirational' teachers or inadequate facilities, but simply because I don't like sports. If a kid doesn't want to do sports, they shouldn't be made to. All I can see coming of this is more and more schools becoming sports-centric and the kids who don't like sports being ostricised.

  • rate this

    Comment number 432.

    419 ugly duckling

    I hope you didn't teach maths because you need to learn that a sample of one isn't representative. The last DFE school sports survey (2099 -10) found that 78% of pupis in state schools participated in competitive sport. In 2008 the Daily Mail found 430 schools had no sports day ... failing to mention that that was less than 2% of schools.

  • rate this

    Comment number 431.

    Curiosity landing sucessfully on Mars is the best news this year, probably even more exciting than finding the Higgs Boson. Sport is good as well but we need young people to be enthused about learning as well. Pity I cant comment on Curisosity.

  • rate this

    Comment number 430.

    I watched the GB Gymnasts do astonishing things with amazing poise. In their training there's many things they learn by rote, so that they become second nature, muscle memory, almost effortless. Those who campaigned against competitive sport in schools should be ashamed, as should those who see no purpose in learning times tables or spelling. As for those who sold off the playing fields...

  • rate this

    Comment number 429.

    Yeah, yeah, yeah. Perhaps now our local comprehensive will get a 2km rowing lake as well. Imagine the furore that would create. Best thing to do is to stop knocking the private schools and send your kids there instead.

  • rate this

    Comment number 428.

    Im 50 years old I remember at all stages of my education some kind of physical activity was the norm even going into school early to play an hours worth of a sport or after school for the same,so what happened, are the gov trying to reverse a situation they were the cause of or what did cause the decline???

  • rate this

    Comment number 427.

    Yet more socialist nonsense about the privilege enjoyed by independently educated youngsters. These nasty wealthy people not only corner the bank jobs, political jobs, wealthy jobs etc now they are dominating sport!!! The parents of any child need to get their fat butts off the sofa and get them along to rowing, athletics, swimming and anything else they fancy. Then be dedicated & work hard !!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 426.

    When I was in school in the 50's and 60's, we always had an annual Sports Day at the local sports field and Swimming Gala at the local swimming baths. Soon after I left school the sports fields and swimming baths were closed down as being too costly to maintain. Thus depriving children not only of an opportunity to become nivolved in sport but fuelling the growing problem of chioldhood obesity.

  • rate this

    Comment number 425.

    i wished the commentator didnt use the word' trotty' to describe laura trott during her heats, and during the final.....have some respect please

  • rate this

    Comment number 424.

    If primary schools weren't under so much pressure from ofsted regarding literacy and numeracy levels of pupils (which are important of course) then maybe more sport would be done in many of them.

    Primary curriculum needs a major rethink in terms of priorities, and there are many existing things that need chucking out.

  • rate this

    Comment number 423.

    420. Keane
    Nearly all of the medals won so far have been won by white people. Perhaps this can be reflected in the Closing Ceremony (well, Danny boy)?

    Have they? I don't know, because I've not really fixated on the ethnicity of the participants in either the opening ceremony or the events themselves. Unlike you, it would seem.

  • rate this

    Comment number 422.

    410. insert_name_here
    >>> If I hear the term 'Team GB' ....I'm going to scream!

    The key was preparation; getting the necessary supplies (lots and lots of recorded entertainment for the home and car) warned everyone not to mention the O word in your hearing etc. In fact, in my experience the enthusiasm for the thing has mostly been pretty lukewarm.

    Spend more on creating jobs, not sports.

  • rate this

    Comment number 421.

    Some people enjoy physical exercise and some don't. It's as simple as that. Force it on everyone in school and ... well done! You've ruined it for many for life! I never really got over my very bad experiences with sports at school.

    If we spend more it should be on better approaches to sports teaching - not just to get more medal winners through. Sports supposed to be about fun.. isn't it?

  • Comment number 420.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 419.

    Having worked in a junior school I can honestly say sports provision is appauling. Kids are not allowed to play contact sports. Sports day consists of how far you can chuck a bean bag.

    When I was in primary school, sports day had egg & spoon races, relay races, sack races, obstacle course, we had ribbons and the winning 'house' got the cup. boys played cricket and girls netball

  • rate this

    Comment number 418.

    School sports. Bad memories of the sports master twitching his shoulder and arm watching the boys taking compulsory showers after running around a field. I see they sold my former school field to the developers. Solution: lets have socialism, the state will create a generation of super athletes. That's what the man from the Socialist Worker Party told me.


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