Sport is a vital part of children’s education that teaches them how to win and to lose, Olympic champion cyclist Victoria Pendleton has told the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham.
Pendleton, who won gold in the velodrome at the Beijing and London Olympic Games, introduced Education Secretary Nicky Morgan’s keynote address.
The cycling star told activists how she was inspired by an active, sporting childhood but because not every child can have this school PE was so important.
She said: “It can bridge the gap between socio-economic status, race, gender, ethnicity and disability. Whatever you want to do, wherever you are, whoever you are, you can always get involved and that’s all you need to do to reap the extensive benefits – the physical, mental, social, intellectual benefits.
“In most instances, you just need someone with a little enthusiasm to give you a bit of direction and a little bit of encouragement. You don’t have to be gifted and you don’t have to want to do it professionally – you just have to enjoy taking part as the lessons you learn in childhood are vital and will stay with you for the rest of your life.
“Sport teaches kids things you can’t measure – determination, discipline, persistence, team work, integrity, honesty. It builds character, confidence and resilience – things that don’t necessarily show up in test results but that employers are always looking for.”
Pendleton said research had shown the Government’s PE and sport premium had demonstrated more than 90 per cent of children behaved better and more than 95 per cent were fitter and healthier after more sport was added to the curriculum.