PM says new requirement to be part of national curriculum, after coming under fire for scrapping two-hours-a-week sport target
Competitive team sports will be made compulsory for all primary age children, David Cameron said on Saturday, after he criticised schools for holding Indian dance classes instead.
The prime minister, who is under fire for scrapping a target for pupils to do two hours of sport a week, said the new requirement would be included in the revised national curriculum.
School sport has been thrust into the spotlight by Great Britain’s success at the London Olympics, amid concerns that the momentum from the Games could be lost unless youngsters are offered more opportunities.
Critics have called for the target, which Labour introduced, to be reinstated. Boris Johnson, the London mayor, said he wanted to see pupils emulating the two hours a day of sport he enjoyed at Eton.
Cameron, however, dismissed the the idea of reintroducing the target, saying on Friday that many schools were meeting it “by doing things like Indian dance or whatever, that you and I probably wouldn’t think of as sport”.
Setting out his plans to ensure the London 2012 “Inspire a Generation” slogan is met, he said he wanted to end an “all must have prizes” culture and push pupils to think about beating their personal bests.
The most recent government survey of primary schools found that more than 10,000 primary schools had fewer than half of their pupils competing against other schools three or more times a year; at 1,950 schools, none of the students took part in such competitions.
A new draft PE curriculum, to be published in the autumn, will make it compulsory to take part in what Downing Street called “recognised and recognisable sports” such as football, hockey and netball. It will also prescribe “team outdoor and adventurous activity”.
Cameron said: “The idea of an Olympics legacy has been built into the DNA of London 2012 from the very beginning. Now the London Olympics has been a great success, we need to use the inspiration of the Games to get children playing sport more regularly.
“I want to use the example of competitive sport at the Olympics to lead a revival of competitive sport in primary schools. We need to end the ‘all must have prizes’ culture and get children playing and enjoying competitive sports from a young age, linking them up with sports clubs so they can pursue their dreams.
“That’s why the new national curriculum in the autumn will include a requirement for primary schools to provide competitive sport.”
Cameron, who has said two hours a week is insufficient, has come under fire from teaching unions for suggesting the targets had led to a tick-box mentality where some teachers did the minimum required.
However, shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg said: “If David Cameron supports primary school sport, why did he abolish Schools Sports Partnerships which allowed primary schools access to coaches, staff and facilities to do competitive sport?
“This announcement doesn’t look like a thought-through plan – there are no details of how this will be supported or funded and no plan for secondary schools.
“Instead of seeking to blame teachers and divide the country, Labour wants to build a consensus with a cross-party, 10-year plan for school sport.”
Youth Sport Trust chair Baroness Sue Campbell welcomed the move but cautioned that teachers would need extra support if it was to be effective. She said:”In primary schools there are no specialist teachers of PE and sport so it will be critical to provide training and support for teachers if we are to maximise this opportunity.”