Cameron defends dropping sport targets

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David Cameron yesterday defended scrapping targets for the amount of sport children play in school, saying some youngsters spent two hours performing “Indian dance”.

The Prime Minister has come under fire for ditching a requirement for schools to offer pupils at least two hours a week of sport.

Critics have called for the target to be reinstated as Britain achieves record success at the London Olympics.

But Mr Cameron said: “The trouble we have had with targets up to now, which was two hours a week, is that a lot of schools were meeting that by doing things like Indian dance or whatever, that you and I probably wouldn’t think of as sport so there’s a danger of thinking all you need is money and a target.

“If that was the solution we would have solved the problem by now.”

The Prime Minister said pupils should be “doing as much sport in schools as possible” and again denied the Government was selling school playing fields.

He said of the 21 sold in the last two years, 14 belonged to schools which closed, four were lost because of school mergers and another three saw money injected back into sport.

“As well as the facilities and the money, what we really need is a change in culture in our schools and in society that says sport is good, competitive sport is good, schools games are good,” said the Prime Minister.

He paid tribute to the National Lottery for funding elite sport and to former Tory Prime Minister John Major for setting it up.

Mr Cameron said: “That’s one of the things that has helped deliver the gold medals, and when people say, ‘Look at all this money spent on swimming or riding or supporting individual athletes – is it worth it?’, my answer is ‘Absolutely yes’, because it’s those athletes – that success – that inspires children and young people to want to be the best.

“Not everyone can be Mo Farah, but everyone can see what he’s overcome and think, ‘I’ve got to find the best things in me and make the most of those.’”

The Prime Minister said the two hours a week target was “not enough”.

“In too many cases that’s being met by things that you and I wouldn’t really think of as sport, and so there is a danger of relying on targets and schools think ‘I’ve fixed that, I’ve done that, I don’t need to do any more’, when that’s not the case,” he told BBC Radio Five Live. “It’s the shortage of competitive sport that I think is still a big problem in our schools and we really need to correct that.”

Labour leader Ed Miliband told Five Live it was no good blaming teachers. “One of the things we have got to do is look at the successful experience of School Sport Partnerships which this Government has so far been sceptical about, and let’s build on that.”