Without greater provision and resources, state schools will struggle to close the gold gap

Without greater resources, opportunities and investment, the gold gap between state and private schools will continue to grow, writes Shamik Das.

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Sports secretary Jeremy Hunt today conceded school sport provision is “patchy”, in response to BOA chair (and former Tory sports minister) Lord Moynihan’s weekend call for a “step change” in sports policy in a bid to boost the Olympic success rate of state school-educated athletes.

At the Games, much has been made of the disproportionate number of golds won by privately-educated sportsmen compared to their state-educated colleagues – not that it should come as too great a surprise. The 7% educated thus not only have more and better resources, they are also given more opportunities to try their hand at a greater number of sports.

As the graph below shows, whereas in most private schools you would have the chance to experience almost all sports, the majority of state schools do not offer anywhere near the full panoply of Olympic sports:

Provision-of-Olympic-sports-in-English-state-schools
The gap is illustrated most starkly with a glance at the (private) school attended by the prime minister and Mayor of London; here’s the Guardian’s David Conn two years ago, at the time the government unveiled its plans to cut (state) school sport:

“On the day of the spending review last month, Michael Gove, the education secretary, announced he was scrapping the plan to improve sport in schools.

“The schools, of course, are not private, like those attended by Gove (Robert Gordon’s), culture secretary Jeremy Hunt (Charterhouse), sports minister Hugh Robertson (King’s, Canterbury) – or the prime minister, David Cameron, whose alma mater, Eton, offers 12 squash courts, 20 tennis courts, an indoor and outdoor swimming pool, four cricket fields, a nine-hole golf course, and rowing on the lake that will host the 2012 Olympics.”

As former England Test batsman Ed Smith pointed out in The Times, the gap has grown steadily over recent Olympiads, and is set to get worse unless the current government heed Lord Moynihan’s advice, reverse the cuts, invest in the future and truly inspire a generation:

“There is obviously a risk that Gove’s approach will lead to a greater divergence of sporting experience in schools. The real beneficiaries of the decline of state school sport were the independent schools. The gap between the sporting haves and have-nots has undeniably widened.

“Top independent schools have spent massively on sports facilities. Even as a former professional cricketer, I’m dazzled – perhaps shocked – by their luxurious swimming pools and perfectly mown outfields. Some schools resemble five-star golf resorts. Many private schools have pitches fit for Olympians…

“The proportion of British Olympic medallists who are privately educated has grown steadily over the past three Olympics to about 45 per cent. The trend is the same in rugby and cricket: more private-school England players, fewer state-school ones.

“If we could map social mobility within professional sport, it would show a clear downward trajectory. You would expect sport to be a model of meritocracy. It isn’t.”

 


See also:

Citius, Altius, Fortius… It’s Games Time! 27 Jul 2012

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

The two faces of the Tories on sport: Embracing the Games while closing swimming pools 18 May 2012

The fight to save school sport goes on 5 May 2012

Sports minister: School sport “nothing to do with me… but the School Games are” 15 Dec 2011


 

Though some commentators, like the Telegraph’s Brendan O’Neill and The Sun’s Toby Young posit that it’s more to do with a perceived anti-sport, anti-competitive ethos in state schools, as important as a positive, winning attitude is, without the resources, opportunities and investment, the gold gap will continue to grow.

 


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18 Responses to “Without greater provision and resources, state schools will struggle to close the gold gap”

  1. Sammy Dennison

    Without greater provision and resources, state schools will struggle to close the gold gap | Left Fo http://t.co/zpYtbkTq

  2. leftlinks

    Left Foot Forward – Without greater provision and resources, state schools will struggle to close… http://t.co/pTIDoGaK

  3. Political Planet

    Without greater provision and resources, state schools will struggle to close the gold gap: Without greater reso… http://t.co/wV2D4aWn

  4. Jaz Jackson

    Without greater provision and resources, state schools will struggle to close the gold gap: http://t.co/tPky1QYE by @ShamikDas #2012

  5. AltGovUK

    Without greater provision and resources, state schools will struggle to close the gold gap: http://t.co/tPky1QYE by @ShamikDas #2012

  6. Lord Blagger

    More money, more money, more money.

    Yep, the Oliver Twist approach. Except you are already paid billions and still can’t get the basics right.

    Look at the number of failures to get pupils to a minimum standard of 5 GCSE (mathematics and English included).

    If you can’t get that bit right, why demand money for gilding the lily? (or is it a turd?)

  7. Ben Mitchell

    @shamikdas on the worrying gap in resources in sport btwn private and state schools. Not many Olympic sports at latter http://t.co/aZZtM0mH

  8. John Slinger

    @shamikdas on the worrying gap in resources in sport btwn private and state schools. Not many Olympic sports at latter http://t.co/aZZtM0mH

  9. Dave Watson

    Listening to Hunt on school sport there is no recognition of the impact council cuts are having http://t.co/eMUuTnP8

  10. Bob Ellard

    Without greater provision and resources, state schools will struggle to close the gold gap http://t.co/asYNPUiW

  11. Anonymous

    Yup, keep on suppressing investment, you’re very much Fagin.
    And yes, look at the failure that successive of both Tory and Labour governments in their drive for ever-more testing.

    That you think children are turds is no surprise.

  12. BevR

    RT @leftfootfwd: Without greater provision and resources, state schools will struggle to close the gold gap http://t.co/hRva3lBx

  13. JC

    You don’t win by having the right facilities. There are sports where we have done well with only limited facilities. It’s a matter of attitude. You have to want to win, but also accept that losing is possible. Competitiveness is trained into sports people.

    Are you suggesting that the major football teams watch school kids learning the sport at school? They don’t; they watch them play matches with junior clubs. Do state schools even have significant amounts of inter-school sport anymore?

  14. BevR

    RT @leftfootfwd: Without greater provision and resources, state schools will struggle to close the gold gap http://t.co/hRva3lBx

  15. Alastair Lichten

    Different level of investment available 2 #OpenTalent shown by the number of UK Olympians from state v. private schools http://t.co/hBAUuPtA

  16. Foyer Federation

    Different level of investment available 2 #OpenTalent shown by the number of UK Olympians from state v. private schools http://t.co/T6H4W6GB

  17. Blarg1987

    I partially agree with you, however shcools are limited on the sports they can offer, mainly rugby, football, netball, hocky and some athletic events.
    Schools need to encourage more sports be it doing them in school or taking day trips with pupils outside to try new things such as arcchery, sailing etc. Only then will future potential come from a wider backround. I do agree there does need to be more inter school competitions in sports but also expanded to other areas such as music, drama etc that way schools can work out what they are good at and what they need to improve on and from that determine with other shcools whether they want to focus on their weaker points or specilise on their strengths.

  18. JC

    I don’t think that a wider variety of sports is needed. There are many clubs and societies offering that. What’s needed is a desire to be involved in winning. You can find your sport after that. My children are active in sports their school didn’t offer, they just enjoyed the active side.

    They might need to be pointed in the right direction though, so schools should have links to external sports clubs etc. I just don’t see why schools should offer it all. Never did in the past. I don’t see cycling on offer anywhere.

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