Cameron’s “Indian dance” jibe highlights just how out of touch he is on school sport

David Cameron has claimed state school pupils are spending their mandatory two-hour-a-week sport allocation performing “Indian dance” clases.

David Cameron waded in to the school sport debate with an ill-thought out attack once again today, following his earlier criticism of teachers by claiming state school pupils were spending their mandatory two-hour-a-week sport allocation performing “Indian dance”.

The prime minister, responding to widespread criticism of his abolition of the two-hour target – from double Olympic champion Dame Kelly Holmes to London Mayor Boris Johnson – told this morning’s Daybreak:

“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… 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.”

The Department for Education also hit out at compulsory targets, describing Labour’s targets as “unenforceable”, taking up “far too much of teachers’ time”, while Boris Johnson has said he has “no doubt” two hours’ sport every day would be “wonderful” for schoolchildren, and would “like to see two hours a day”.

The success of the two hour target is clear; the PE and Sport Survey 2009/10 (pdf) revealed:

• Pupils across Years 1-13 spent an average of 117 minutes taking part in PE in a typical week;

• In each year to 2009/10, there has been an increase in the average number of minutes pupils take part in PE each week across Years 1-11 – in 2004/05 the average number of minutes for Years 1-11 was 107, compared to 123 in 2009/10;

• Across Years 1-13, 79% of pupils participated in 120 minutes or more per week of curriculum PE in 2009/10 – up from 77% in 2008/09;

• Across Years 1 – 11, there has been a near doubling of the proportion of pupils participating in at least 120 minutes of curriculum PE, from 2003/04 to 2009/10 – up from 44% to 84%;

• Every year, there have been increases in all year groups in terms of the proportion of pupils participating in at least 120 minutes of curriculum PE, most significantly in Years 1-6; and

• In 2009-10, 78% of girls and 80% of boys in Years 1-13 took part in at least 120 minutes of curriculum PE.

Figure 12 illustrates the increases across all years in the proportion of pupils participating in at least two hours’ curriculum PE a week in the years to 2009/10:


Furthermore, it is not just a case of ‘reach the target and stop’, a criticism that may be levelled at other government targets – as Figure 1 shows, there have been increases across all years in the proportion of pupils participating in at least three hours’ a week high quality PE and out of hours school sport, peaking at 70% for Year 6:



See also:

Olympic stars hit back at Cameron and Gove over slashing of sports budgets 9 Aug 2012

Cameron blames teachers over school sport – ignoring his cuts and playing field sell-offs 8 Aug 2012

Will the Tories follow up their praise for Wiggo with investment in cycling? 25 Jul 2012


And on the subject of “dance”, though true that it is second only to football in provision across all schools (and third to cricket in club links), it is only one option of many available – for David Cameron to say two hours a week of sport is devoted to “Indian dance” in state schools, imply it is widespread and cite this as a reason for axing the two-hour target once more shows how adrift from reality on school sport this most out-of-touch prime minister is.

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15 Responses to “Cameron’s “Indian dance” jibe highlights just how out of touch he is on school sport”

  1. barsacq

    And in the process he dumps on the ethnic minority whose vote is key to him winning a majority in 2015. He must be chewing that foot to the bone.

  2. Primly Stable

    Perhaps if Cameron did a bit more dancing he wouldn’t have quite so many chins.

  3. Dubious1977

    Just on one part of Cameron’s argument. Though he’s wrong on the fundamentals, he’s right on thing. Dance isn’t a sport.

  4. Stephen Kelly

    It depends of what kind of dancing you are talking about Dubious1977. I teach Dance Sport which while not in the Olympics at the moment is a recognised international sport receiving sport funding from UK Sport and other bodies. So, a piece of advice to you – don’t make suppositions until you know what you are talking about.

  5. Lucyc 2

    Dressage is? Bollocks. if kids are dancing they are getting fitter. Job done. Or is it only sport if they don’t enjoy it?

  6. mikems

    No, not sport per se, but it is exercise, which is the main idea behind school sports.

    Also a lot of sport looks very much like some sort of dancing so they aren’t that distant.

  7. Dubious1977

    Sorry, I have no intention of causing offence, or suggesting dance isn’t worthwhile, or indeed a wonderful form of physical expression, and certainly has a huge place in the school curriculum in terms of promoting physical fitness. It is the equal of any sport, in my opinion. And having tried (and spectacularly failed) to learn Salsa Dancing, I know how difficult it is. My point is, it’s only a sport if it has an objective endpoint. If it has to be judged, it makes t something else.

  8. treborc

    One could say the same of Brown, at least Cameron jogs , when brown did it he looked on the verge of death.

    But it easy to forget labour time in power over the years and the mess they made with sport, in my area not a single school now has a sports day.

    And over 3/4 of them have sold off playing fields .

  9. treborc

    That’s not really sport, it’s dance, whether it gets into the Olympics like darts or snooker or fly swatting well that’s up to others.

    Is dance a benefit to fitness yes without doubt, but sport my ass.

  10. Newsbot9

    He seems quite adept at dancing away from taking responsibility for anything to me.

  11. mikems

    Well yesteday at the Olympics we had synchronised swimming and artistic gymnastics. Are those really sport? Because they are very similar to dancing, I would say.

    Also the taekwondo – look at how they move.

    Many other sports too.

  12. mikems

    Apparently it is easy for some to forget about Labour’s record of massively increasing sport participation in schools from about 25% in 1997 to over 90% in 2010.

    You have forgotten it already.

    Of course it is possible that you don’t know what you are talking about. 10,000 playing fields were sold off under Thatcher and Major. Perhaps you didn’t know that or perhaps you prefer to forget it so you can get on with lying about the last govt?

    Who know. Dishonesty and stupidity are close cousins.

    Regarding you comment about Gordon Brown – he is blind in one eye so running is not perhaps the best activity for him. He lost his eyesight playing rugby.

    So ignore those petty facts and carry on with your childish sniping and whinging, why not?

  13. mikems

    Indian dancing? Out. Don’t even mention French cricket.

  14. shelisheng

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  15. Rasika_S

    Had Mr Cameron seen a few top Bharatanatyam dancers such as Harinie Jeevitha perform items full of acrobatic karanas, he would have not said what he did.

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