Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, said today (August 12th 2012) that David Cameron’s announcement that he wanted to see ‘school sports made compulsory’ was two-faced in that it would both only apply to local authority schools and that it was short of detail.
“This is a statement more designed to piggy back on the Olympic success of Team GB rather than make any real change. To say, as he did, that local authority school children would be required “to take part in competitive team sports, like football, netball and hockey, and will include team outdoor and adventurous activity” means that ‘free schools’ and new academy schools would be exempted. Given that he and his Education Secretary Michael Gove are putting intense pressure on schools – like local primaries in Middlesbrough and Redcar and Cleveland – to convert into academies, this new policy is nothing more than a populist sound bite.
“If he really wants to make a difference in school sports, he should look at what was achieved by the last Labour Government who, without fanfare put in place a policy, which he has now dropped, a requirement that pupils take two hours of sport a week. According to the Department for Education, the share of five-year-olds meeting that target rose from 25 to 92 per cent between 2003-04 and 2009-10. This shows the real two faced nature of this latest announcement.”