Olympics: Cameron urges school sport 'cultural change'

David Cameron and Amir Khan David Cameron and Amir Khan watch boxer Nicola Adams winning her fight

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There needs to be "a big cultural change" towards sport in schools if Britain is to capitalise on Team GB's Olympic wins, David Cameron has said.

The PM called for a more "competitive ethos". Teachers said he was "shifting blame" for problems caused by cuts.

Later the BOA said 800 Olympic and Paralympic athletes would take part in a parade in London on 10 September.

Team GB have 22 gold medals, their best haul since 1908, but medal hopes in the individual showjumping were dashed.

All Team GB's Olympic and Paralympic athletes are due to parade from the City's Mansion House to the Victoria Memorial in front of Buckingham Palace the day after the Paralympics ends.

BOA chief executive Andy Hunt, asked why it was taking place on a school day, said: "We are trying to find a day that would work for everybody, to bring together what might be over 850 athletes, and then all of the other support staff, and make that happen across the both the Paralympic and Olympic teams was pretty challenging."

Sitting beside former Olympic silver medallist Amir Khan, Mr Cameron watched as Britain's Nicola Adams made her way into the flyweight final of the women's boxing.

GB's Adams into gold-medal bout

Adams, from Leeds, beat India's Mary Kom and is on course for at least a silver medal.

But she said afterwards: "I want that gold. Words can't express how much I want it. To get that for Great Britain, that would just mean the world to me."

It is the first time women's boxing has been included in the Olympics.

In other developments:

Speaking to LBC Radio after criticism of the government for approving the sale of 21 school playing fields, Mr Cameron said £1bn was being invested in school sports over the next four years.

But he added that more needed to be done to build a sporting legacy for British children.

"We need a big cultural change - a cultural change in favour of competitive sports," he said.

"The problem has been too many schools not wanting to have competitive sport, some teachers not wanting to join in and play their part."

But the general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, Christine Blower, said suggestions that teachers were letting the side down was "ludicrous".

"What we need is the support of government, not the shifting of blame," she said. "It's not because of teachers that funding for the School Sport Partnership has been so drastically reduced. Nor is it down to teachers that playing fields are being sold off, despite election promises."

Shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg has also criticised the government's decision to end the target of pupils doing two hours of sport a week, saying support structures needed to be place "at the grassroots" to "inspire the next generation".

Olympics coverage online

Olympics images

Labour leader Ed Miliband said Britain needed to keep hold of "Olympic spirit" and the government had to do "a lot of thinking" about how it could make good on the promise the Olympics had given young people.

Olympics minister Hugh Robertson has said he is "pretty confident" sports funding can be maintained at the current level. He said elite sport was his priority, but that could not be guaranteed and "hard decisions" must be taken.

BOA chairman Colin Moynihan said: "Nobody is suggesting for a moment that every child wants to play competitive sport, that would be inaccurate. But there are hundreds of thousands of children who would love to take the inspiration they've got from either watching these Games or learning about them, they'd just love to translate that into the opportunity."

In showjumping on Wednesday, British trio Scott Brash, Ben Maher and Nick Skelton - fresh from their team title - missed out on the individual gold medal, which was won by Switzerland's Steve Guerdat.

Meanwhile London 2012 officials are refusing to confirm announcements from Muse and George Michael that they will take part in Sunday's closing ceremony.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 648.

    @630 Thanks for the reply. My school always took physical education and sport very seriously, which wasn't to everyone's taste. I suppose it stemmed from an old fashioned 'healthy body and healthy mind' type attitude. It did produce some real successes both academically and in sporting fields, with several of my peers representing England in various sports.

  • rate this

    Comment number 647.

    Our country has lots of intelligent people in it. Why can't one of them be Prime Minister?

  • rate this

    Comment number 646.

    I agree that some sports require specialist setups, but cross-country or running round a track just needs space. Even football only really needs space + some jackets for goalposts. Space, i.e. school sports fields, is the issue. Retaining these fields for the kids is what's needed. If more specialist equipment can be made available then that is icing on the cake.

  • rate this

    Comment number 645.

    So in order to inspire children in schools they have put the parade of the athletes on a Monday when they are all at school!! Brilliant!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 644.

    The Olympics is going to end up costing the entire secondary school budget for one year. Unfortuately people have been so brainwashed by lumps of precious metal they will rate me negatively for saying so.

  • rate this

    Comment number 643.

    Dave looks as though he has just discovered something?

    This Olympics has highlighted the British Class System. The seven percent public schools making up half the athletes. A vast majority of young folk from state schools left out, not taking part.

    Dave, an Eton chap, has some fundamental issues to address concerning the inequalities of British society before he pontificates about sport

  • rate this

    Comment number 642.

    Probably best not to sell off school playing fields then...

  • rate this

    Comment number 641.

    For what it's worth. My daughter loves sport and for the last three years of primary school she has been told that winning is not allowed and that the only sports to be played are ones involving groups.
    No one individual has been allowed to win anything, it's simply wrong.
    Is that a national policy?

  • rate this

    Comment number 640.

    Well Mr C, the first step would be to get rid of the Education Secretary who signed off on the saleof 20 School playing fields this week.
    Joined up thinking there - as usual.

  • rate this

    Comment number 639.

    Lets not get over excited about a few shiny medals here

    You go to school primarily to LEARN

    Yes it would be nice if PE as it was called back in the day was a little more engaging than being forced to run cross-country in the snow/rain and then bundled into one big boiling hot or stone cold shower. Little wonder we did everything we could to get out of it
    but higgs-boson's don't come from medals

  • rate this

    Comment number 638.

    I'm incredibly proud of our Team GB athletes for their achievements, yet there still remains a class-divide seen by the amount of privately educated medallists compared to state-schooled winners. Its all well and good for Cameron to come out and say how we need a cultural change towards sport, but until Joe Bloggs at the local comprehensive has equal access to top facilities, nothing will change.

  • rate this

    Comment number 637.

    I say take the money from these parents who are sitting at home fully capable of working and just don't want to! That money could be put to good use in schools in making sports part of the curriculum! There are too many of these people who want a 16hr job because that way they get to keep their benefits which they don't deserve!!! some even getting maintenance!

  • rate this

    Comment number 636.

    13.Nemesis of Socialism is Nigh

    "the vast majority of GB winners have come through the Private School system."

    Private = Success
    see the G4$ = failure

    " Bland loosing Dross. -"
    Is that your new user name?
    The successful spelling is "losing"; you really should be familiar with it!

  • rate this

    Comment number 635.

    I can't remember 50 UK medals back in the 1970s when I was at school despite an afternoon of games, 2 PE classes and swimming!
    What we have now is truly special and the result of careful dedicated planning and management. The difference however is that back in the 70s we were nationally thinner and probably fitter than todays kids.

  • rate this

    Comment number 634.

    Barely two weeks ago the complainers were making out that the whole nation hated the games being hosted in London and now they are silent.

  • rate this

    Comment number 633.

    Sport at school was pure hell for me. Not through any fault or inadequacy on my part, but because my teacher was a nasty, embittered bully who made me her scapegoat for two years. I felt physically sick with dread before classes and my self esteem and confidence suffered badly. I acheived highly in and enjoyed every other subject. Sport at school did nothing but damage in my case.

  • rate this

    Comment number 632.

    actions speak louder than words Mr C ... talk is cheap.

  • rate this

    Comment number 631.

    I am terribly out of date on school sport. Do they have good teachers these days? I think we only had really good sports teacher in the school.

    I think there's a lot to be said for distinguishing between general fitness and what might be called serious sport. Serious sport needs serious teaching, and I doubt the skills are there.

  • rate this

    Comment number 630.


    You have a valid question. PEteachers,coaches and other subject teachers have obstacles, outside the 4 PE lessons/ fortnight. Say a child wants to practice cricket after school, they can't at my school. Unless supervised they can't be on school premises. If staffed, big if, the sports hall is full with exam table/ chairs, competing sports/clubs or adult clubs hiring sport halls.

  • rate this

    Comment number 629.

    592. steve

    Some private schools do. I coach kids who don't have access to sports facilities at a couple of private schools, the facilities and equipment are provided for free.

    Nothing will be gained by sitting around waiting for politicians to do something. Change requires commitment and effort.


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