Page last updated at 21:42 GMT, Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Peer: Girls 'missing out' in sport

Former Paralympic athlete Baroness Grey-Thompson has said that girls of school age are "missing out" in sporting activities.

The crossbench peer made her comments during a debate on school sports teaching on 7 December 2011, led by Liberal Democrat peer Lord Addington, who asked the government how it would ensure that the quality of teaching of school-age sport increased the levels of participation in sport in later life.

Baroness Grey-Thompson said girls leave school half as likely to meet recommended levels of activity as boys: "Girls are missing out on the health and personal development benefits that participating in sport can bring."

She argued that many girls had "negative" experiences of PE in school and that this had an impact on their enthusiasm for sport in later life.

She also had some words of criticism for a journalist who suggested that girls with "sinewy arms" don't look attractive.

"I prefer to think about a woman looking strong, and we have to encourage girls and women to think differently about what's attractive," she argued.

Baroness Grey-Thompson also said she wanted to see more disabled people participating in sport, arguing that this could help the government meet its targets to get more disabled people into work.

Later, Labour spokesman Baroness Billingham attacked Education Secretary Michael Gove for removing "ringfencing" of funding for school sport.

"Michael Gove is sport-phobic, even philistine," she alleged.

Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport spokesman Baroness Garden of Frognal denied that the government was "walking away from increasing participation," saying every sports governing body will have targets and the government aims for them to have closer relationships with schools.

She added that schools have the option to spend more on sport from within their own budgets.

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