Setting the record straight on school sport and Olympics

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From: Phil Chamberlain, Policy & Communications Director, Youth Sport Trust, Bernard Street, London.

IN response to the column by Steve Wilson (Yorkshire Post, February 25), I wish to clarify some of issues within the piece about school sport and the Youth Sport Trust (YST).

To begin, the piece states that in the last three decades “school sport in the state system has all but vanished”. The percentage of young people taking part in two hours of school sport has increased to an impressive 90 per cent. The piece also highlights concerns over the number of links that schools have with local clubs.

Many schools across Yorkshire are benefiting directly from opportunities through the work of the Youth Sport Trust and other partners. The School Games, which the Youth Sport Trust has been commissioned by Sport England to deliver, has more than 12,000 schools across the country registered to be involved. In fact, North Yorkshire was selected as a pilot area for the School Games last year because of its strong track record for delivery of school and community sport.

Equally, National School Sport Week (supported by Lloyds TSB), which uses the power of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games to inspire pupils saw more than our million young people take part across the country last year with even greater numbers expected to be part of the week in 2012. And, only recently York High School won a national award at the Youth Sport Trust conference for the effective way it used National School Sport Week with its pupils.

This month 663 primary schools in Yorkshire will be involved in Change4 Life Sports Clubs, which are funded by the Department of Health. These innovative school sport clubs engage and retain less active young people in sport and encourage them to go on to lifetime participation in sport.

In addition, the Youth Sport Trust works with over 100 schools in Yorkshire and Humber that have become member or partner schools. These schools are also using sport to raise achievement levels across their schools.

Another concern in the article is the assumption that is made on the finances of the Youth Sport Trust. I am not clear as to how this figure was reached but I can confirm it does not reflect a true picture of YST’s investment in school sport.

The Youth Sport Trust is an independent charity and we are absolutely committed to improving the quality of PE and sport in schools.

From: David Ellis, Headteacher of York High School and Joint Chair of the North Yorkshire School Games Organising Committee.

WHAT an incredibly disappointing article by Steve Wilson regarding the Olympic legacy in schools. Regrettably, he really needs to talk to a few more schools before he makes such wild assumptions.

Many schools across the country have worked closely with the Youth Sport Trust and other partners in seizing the opportunities offered by London 2012, contrary to the views expressed by Steve Wilson. In my own school the Olympics have improved on participation in sport, teaching and learning, international links and in developing the confidence and leadership skills of young people.

Steve Wilson has chosen to look at the impact of the Olympics solely through the lens of local sports clubs. In reality some community clubs are very welcoming and keen to recruit new members, but others are less keen to work with the kind of young people who need “winning round” to PE and Sport and the benefits it brings.

It is a real shame that there are a significant body of people who are keen to “knock” the Olympics. For my school and many others, the Olympics are proving an excellent opportunity to engage a whole new generation with physical activity and the wider ethos of sport. On one point, however, Steve Wilson is absolutely right. We do need to ensure that young people’s experience of PE and

Sport at primary school is of the highest quality – and this was exactly the purpose of the School Sports Partnerships that the Government axed in 2011.