03/02/2013

A School Sport Legacy? Safe at Park House, but...?

Next week I'll be making my fourteenth consecutive visit as a Sports College Headteacher to the Youth Sport Trust's Annual Conference in Telford.  It's outstanding - and essential - professional development for all involved in school sport - and passionately committed, as I am, to embedding the wider educational benefits arising from both participation and competition for every student whether 'sporty' or not.  In the wake of last summer's magnificent Olympic and Paralympic Games, this year's Conference will be particularly resonant with a theme of 'Learn, Lead, Inspire' as those of us with local and regional responsibility for establishing a 2012 Legacy programme seek to build structures and opportunities which will, in Lord Coe,s memorable phrase, inspire a generation through sport.
 
And there will certainly be important issues to discuss in this respect.  I'm sure that many of you will have read in the press over the last week that the school sport legacy is in danger.The concern can be easily masked here at Park House because of our established tradition of and commitment to using sport - and sporting themes and values -  in so many creative ways to inspire learning across the curriculum. It is part of our DNA as a school, and always will be. In other areas and schools where there isn't such a cultural commitment and sporting opportunities are more marginal to the curriculum, the risk is that the momentum generated by 2012 will indeed be lost.  Much of it comes down to how two key posts that are central to that Legacy promise are to are now to be funded - or not.
 
Firstly, there is currently a centrally funded 'Teacher Release' scheme which pays for a secondary school PE specialist to spend two days a week working in a number of partner primary schools to develop high quality PE and sport and ensure good progression through into Year 7.  However, as it now stands, this funding will cease at the end of the summer term. Secondly, this funding has also been used by some schools - like Park House - to create full-time School Games Organiser posts. These colleagues have been critical in doing exactly that - organising fantastic School Games sporting festivals which combine competitions in a range of sports for primary and secondary schools with wider educational opportunities such as the chance to perform in opening ceremonies that extend right across the County.  Indeed, the Berkshire School Games - which I chair and our School Games Organiser, James Mandry, is central to delivering - was last year identified as the leading school sport festival in the south of England.  However, these roles too will now come under pressure and will only be funded for three days a week from September.  This means that the excellent, County-wide infrastructure for the delivery of school sport that has been built up over the last few years is now under threat.
 
As you might expect, I'm a passionate advocate of the system that has been established and am working hard to maintain a dialogue with decision-makers to ensure that the foundations for a fantastic 2012 school sport legacy remain in place - not just for students at Park House but right across and beyond our region.

Archive: