All our young deserve a fair shot at sport
Sporting success at school should be about more than producing Olympians.
Lord Moynihan, chairman of the British Olympic Association, touched a very raw nerve when he said last week that “one of the worst statistics in British sport” was that half of our gold-medal winners at the Beijing Olympics were the products of private schools. For weeks, such schools have been eagerly collating information on how many of their alumni were Olympic competitors.
Though uncertain whether to be proud or embarrassed about their sporting successes, it was definitely Private Schools: 1, State Schools: 0.
The Left has leapt on Moynihan’s statement, asserting that Jessica Ennis, Andy Murray, Bradley Wiggins, Victoria Pendleton, Greg Rutherford, Mo Farah and other gold medallists all attended state schools. They trumpet Jessica Ennis saying of her time at King Ecgbert School, Sheffield, that “we had great support from a great PE department and teachers”, and Mo Farah’s praise for his PE teachers at Feltham Community College. Their pièce de résistance is to slam home that even St Seb Coe attended a comprehensive.
Ha! Game, set and match. State Schools: 3, Private Schools: 0.
This debate is fascinating but ultimately puerile. Sport in state schools is nothing like as bad as detractors have said. The total number of British pupils taking part in competitive sport at their school rose from 58 per cent in 2006-07 to 78 per cent in 2009-10, according to the Department for Education.
But the figures conceal as much as they reveal. Eleven times more children attend state than private schools. The fact that the numbers of medallists from both sectors at the London Olympics are roughly the same is an appalling indictment of the lack of opportunity for children attending state schools. In an equal world, they should be winning 11 times more medals than their private-school counterparts.
Read more ... (Daily Telegraph - 7 August)