Monday, August 06, 2012


PE departments across the Country will be bombarded in September with requests to try gymnastics, judo, rowing and cycling to name but a few. It could be a marvellous opportunity to find and encourage the next generation of athletes and point them in the right direction to achieve success.

Are we able to rise to this challenge in the state sector?

Sadly, I think the chances are smaller than Tom Daley's trunks.

7% of children in Britain go to Private schools, but they make up a much higher percentage of Team GB. Feel free to supply the reasons for this, but I suspect that ideas like "non competitive sportsday" play a major part.


Macheath said...

That - and the risk assessment forms.

How likely is it, in these litigious days, that staff without the correct coaching qualifications - however willing - will be allowed to let pupils try out a potentially hazardous sport?

As for reasons: leaving aside facilities and staff - and some state schools have excellent ones - a) people who can afford good horses/sailing boats etc can afford school fees as a matter of course and b) parents of talented children may well dig deep to fund school fees (often helped out by sports scholarships) to give the child access to onsite coaching and facilities.

Anonymous said...

I think some middle class liberal left parents would be horrified at the physical rigour of some of the tougher public schools. The day when universities such as LSE, Sussex and Goldsmith's become famous for producing world class rugby players and boxers, is the day when liberal left middle class people believe in the value of competitive sports.

JoeN said...

I've just written about this myself and had plenty of time to reflect on the underlying issues. I was lucky enough to coach rugby, athletics, cross country and more, pretty much every afternoon for many years and know how important it is to teach teenagers the connection between effort and success.

I’ve often been asked since I left teaching, if I miss it and I always say no, but in the past few days, having been lucky enough to see some performances live as well as on TV, I’ve been reminded of the numerous times I’ve seen an ordinary child achieve something remarkable through sheer physical effort and will, but crucially… because a teacher encouraged them to. That's really all that's missing.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 22:36. Why? Most middle class liberal left parents send their kids to independent schools anyway.

Anonymous said...

When the state school system abandons the ludicrous notion of "all must win prizes", stops accepting failure and expecting mediocrity, and starts to encourage success (academic and sporting, then we will see talented youngsters from all backgrounds compete at the Olympics.

Boy on a bike said...

I'm interested in seeing how many stick with rowing once they've done a few sessions and ended up with 36 weeping blisters on each hand. And then having to cut each one open and fill the blister with iodine so that it hardens. And washing your hands in metho to toughen them.

jaljen said...

Why would you even want want to do elite sports? All that training and discipline. Doesn't sound much like fun to me.

Who wants to be a professional athlete? Very few, I'd imagine.

Shouldn't it rather be enjoyable. No need to be the best. I enjoy all sorts of things quite happily without having to strive or 'commit' (ghastly use of the word) or collapse into storms of weeping.

Please not let's teach kids this is something to which they all should aspire. SO dreary.

Anonymous said...

If you want winners, you have to accept losers. Heavens above, we don't have losers at our school! If you joined in, you won! Even if you didn't!

Anonymous said...

I normally agree with what's written on this blog but I have to say I don't think I can with this one.

Yes, students should get to do sport in school, but the idea that they should be allowed to do _any_ sport they like in school is unreasonable. Most areas have separate sports clubs for that which people could and should be encouraged to join if they want to try these out.

I can see pretty good reasons for not doing these sports in school, mostly to do with the fact that school sport means that it must be done by a large group and will probably be mandatory for some group of students or other. Judo because it will give the school bully an extra chance to put the boot in against the weakest member of the class. Gymnastics because you need a fairly restrictive genetic make-up to do it meaningfully at all, so you can't really do group lessons or 40% of the class will be doing forward rolls all session, every session. Rowing because you need a lake.

The point about private schools is a red herring - nobody ever got to the Olympics based on coaching they had in school. They were almost certainly privately coached one-to-one. Yes, this does require wealthy parents, but it's nothing to do with state and private schools.

Macheath said...

Anon: 'The point about private schools is a red herring'

Irrelevant, I agree, but the resurrection of the percentage in question might not be unconnected with the appearance today of this story:

Boy on a bike said...

When you've spent months getting up at 0500, putting your boat on the water before dawn, pulling on that oar like a madman for 90 minutes, popping blisters with your crew mates, sweating and bleeding and vomiting from the sheer effort, falling asleep in maths classes, racing every weekend in preparation for the one big event of the season.....and then winning. If you've never experienced the highs and the lows; the feeling of bonding closely with your crewmates; the sweet taste of victory, then I can't tell you why it's worth it.

Johnny said...

Auberon Waugh had it right - he detested any kind of sudden movement. I suppose one is either an aesthete or an athlete.

Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

What is all this rambling about 'non competitive sports days' and the like...? I've never, EVER seen any of this stuff in existence in all my years in state education; I've only every seen sports days where healthy competition is encouraged with award ceremonies afterwards. Come on Chalk, to peddle such nonsense is just lazy pandering.

Loads of the medals came from horsey/boaty things - these things cost.

How many of the track athletes were privately educated...? I suspect far fewer.

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