W2W - school sport is essential

SPORT was my saviour at school and an important outlet from the stresses of academia, which was never my forte.

It taught me many things which I would never have learnt in the classroom.

My love for sport continues today and, like many, I relished England’s world cup cricket success and the athleticism and grace of two tennis players at their peak in the Wimbledon finals.

Both were potent reminders of the significance of competition and the desire to win.

I would love to see these natural instincts better nurtured and encouraged in all our schools.

If we are to celebrate brilliance in any field, we must enable our young people to shine, which means recognising innate ability and fostering it.

That counts for all human endeavours, but sport is perhaps the most obvious, with proven benefits, both physical and mental.

With all this mind, it’s perhaps surprising that DfE guidelines suggest only two hours of PE a week.

Provision of sport is not helped, of course, by the fact that over 450 school playing fields have been sold off since 1997 under different governments.

And the lack of sport in state schools is reflected in an Ofsted report published after the Olympics, which showed that 40 per cent of our top athletes come from the private sector, which educates only 10 per cent of pupils.

The then Chief Inspector of Schools called for more competitive sport in our state schools, saying it was not an ‘optional extra’ and was ‘woefully under represented’.

He was right. 

Children can only benefit from sport.

It’s characteristics of discipline, camaraderie, effort, courage and learning to both win and lose are vital lessons for life.

Not only that, but home-grown winners in all fields of sport put a smile on the face of the nation.