Skip to main contentAccess keys helpA-Z index

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
| Help
Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 March, 2005, 17:02 GMT
BBC Sports Summit: Q&A
On Monday we revealed that despite worries about the rise of child obesity in Britain, pupils are still playing shockingly low levels of sport in school.

Below, Sports Minister Richard Caborn and Eileen Marchant, of the British Association of Advisers and Lecturers in PE, answer your concerns.

Thanks to those of that you sent in your questions. A selection of their answers appear below.

Sports Minister Richard Caborn

Q: Why is it that the government says that the population should take at least 30 minutes exercise per day, but only allow for two hours per week in schools?
Shashi Ramdewar, England

Caborn: Because sport for young people is not something to be done just at home, or just at school - it is about a partnership of both.

Schools have a huge part to play, which is why we are determined that by 2010 all children will do at least four hours of sport a week, with two hours at school and at least two hours beyond the school day.

Parents share the responsibility to ensure children keep fit and healthy and we would urge them to play their part.

Marchant: The process of effecting change is often slower than a lot of us would like - there has been so much emphasis on standards in the core subjects that many schools have been reluctant to allocate additional time to physical education.

However the tide is changing, albeit fairly slowly, and many schools, particularly those within School Sport Partnerships, are allocating at least two hours in curriculum time.

By 2010 there is an ambition that all young people will be taking part in three to five hours of physical education and school sport with an expectation that two hours of that will be in curriculum time.

It is hoped that the whole ethos of an active lifestyle will eventually be embraced by everybody.

Why can our government not follow the Swedish government by making it compulsory for students to do 10 hours of sport in school a week?
Chris Agi, Jersey, UK

Caborn: There is a balance to be struck: schools have to fit a lot of academic work into their timetables.

But PE is a compulsory element of school life and we do believe that schools, in partnership with parents, are best placed to decide how much time it devotes to each area of the curriculum.

We have strongly emphasised the importance placed on PE and sport and the benefits they bring to school life and exam results.

Investment of over 1.5b up to 2008, and measures to improve sporting choice, opportunity and facilities are already increasing the amount of time pupils spend on PE and school sport.

Marchant: We would like this but we have a more crowded curriculum than Sweden particularly in primary schools.

Should there be more compulsory PE within secondary schools and if so, will this help in reducing attrition rates in sport of children post 16?
Jonny Horsley, England

Caborn: First of all, Jonny, there is more PE in our schools. As I said in reply to Shashi, we are increasing the amount of time children and young people spend doing sport and are thoroughly committed to the benefits produced by exercise.

We know that there has been a problem with teenagers, especially girls, switching off sport and dropping out when they leave school.

The best way to get them interested in PE and sport - and stay so - is to offer a variety of activities that appeal to different interests and abilities and increasingly schools are offering more choice than ever before.

Marchant: The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority is reviewing the curriculum to bring it in line with 21st-Century thinking.

Perhaps we will develop a less content-based curriculum which is more 'outcomes driven' so that schools will have more flexibility to achieve the outcomes in different ways.

I am currently in France and my cousin's school is fantastic. They offer a wide variety of sports to do after and during school. They go swimming everyday for a hour. Why can't schools in Britain do the same thing?
Paul Evans, UK

Caborn: I accept that there are things that we can learn from other countries, especially those in EU countries.

But please acknowledge what is being achieved here - our schools already offer an enviable variety and quality of sports facilities.

And our plan to bring every school into our school sport partnership system by 2006 will increase opportunities for all pupils - whatever their level of ability - and will ensure that all schools provide the top teaching and facilities that young people deserve.

Marchant: PE is one of only a handful of subjects in the curriculum that is statutory right through compulsory schooling.

I think we need to address the appropriateness of the 14 to 16-year-old curriculum to ensure that all young people are motivated and included.

Such activities as leadership and leisure opportunities need to be developed.

Additionally, we need to continue to work with the voluntary sector to develop clubs aimed at 16 to 20-year-olds as many young people do not want to join adult clubs or activities.

Why do schools continue to encourage a non-competitive agenda in sport? Everyone is up in arms when we fail in major events, but if people are not taught to push themselves and be competitive from a young age then what else can we expect?
Matthew Lockyer, UK

Caborn: Tessa Jowell, our Secretary of State, and I are both utterly committed to competitive sport in our schools and I think you are being unfair if you imply that all schools encourage a non-competitive agenda - far from it.

Competitive games are an essential part of a balanced programme of PE and school sport and should be taught.

Ninety-six percent of schools hold a competitive sports day and a third of children take part in competitions against different schools - we want those figures to grow and they will.

One of our key aims is to increase competitive matches within and between schools and we are introducing competition managers to help organise them.

Marchant: This is beginning to be addressed, particularly through the School Sport Partnerships, in which one of the major objectives is to increase opportunities for competitive sport.

Additional funding is being made available within the PESSCL strategy (the national strategy for PE, School Sport and Club Links) to appoint competition managers whose sole responsibility will be to arrange competitive fixtures.

Also agencies such as Sport England, National Governing Bodies and local Sports Development Units are really beginning to work together in partnership all for the good of young people and sport.

I feel PE teachers need to be paid a better salary to coach what they are good at and inspire young people to play. What is your view?
Suzanne, England

Caborn: This is obviously a matter for the education authorities, not me, but I can assure that we do honour and value the role of PE teachers. PE teachers play a crucial role in teaching physical education and giving pupils the opportunity to try sports they wouldn't normally try.

Marchant: Currently there is a shortage of PE specialists and as a result schools are offering additional points to attract good specialists.

Also for the first time ever there is a good career structure in physical education and school sport. This is an exciting time for PE and teachers are given time and opportunities to make a real difference to young people as well as receiving higher salaries.

How can governments aim to cut obesity when they are allowing companies to build houses on playing fields?
JG, England

Caborn: Don't believe everything you read in a few newspapers!

School playing fields have the best protection they have ever had, a fact recognised by the National Playing Fields Association - certainly not part of government.

They are now only sold if they are surplus to the needs of local schools or the community and all proceeds should be ploughed back into improving schools' sports facilities.

Marchant: Sport England is charged with very carefully monitoring any development that threatens playing fields and open spaces.

No-one can build on playing fields without consulting with Sport England and permission is refused if the development reduces sports opportunities.

There is legislation in place that prevents the selling off of playing fields for building purposes.

The government needs to copy the Australian ideas behind getting people into sport ASAP. Do you agree?
Dan Murray, Kuwait

Caborn: We acknowledged Australia's achievement in our sports strategy, Game Plan, which was published in December 2002.

There is much that we can learn from other countries and we are doing exactly that.

Marchant: I agree but in a previous question I referred to the review of the curriculum which is looking at some of the practices that go on in Australia.

The whole ethos there is one of outdoor lifestyles but we do need to remember their weather is better than ours.

The government is working hard and investing heavily on getting people into sport for life and I'm sure our attitudes will start to change in time.

Parents need to be convinced that children can play out safely so the media, particularly, needs to promote a positive approach to this instead of highlighting all the negatives.

I feel it would be a great idea if professional sports men and women could attend sports lessons at schools. This would probably motivate further those interested in taking sport as a career, and nurture the desire of others to take a more active role. What is your view on this?
Ali, England

Caborn: We think it's a great idea - and this is something we are already doing through our Sporting Champions programme.

It uses sports stars and emerging talent to inspire and motivate young people and is delivered through a programme of visits to schools and other youth organisations catering for young people of school age.

And there are more schemes that will be announced soon - to do exactly what you suggest. Good thinking!

Marchant: This has been happening for several years now through the 'Sporting Champions' initiative when high profile sports people go into schools to promote the positive benefits of physical education and sport.

Additionally many professional clubs send coaches into schools as part of their community outreach work.

Unfortunately this is currently mainly football, rugby, tennis - but perhaps this will develop as more and more activities become successful and attract more funding.

If we could turn leading football clubs into multisport clubs, many sporting problems would be solved. Such clubs would also link with schools, with medicine, with the arts - social hubs. Such a move would revolutionise British sport. Even the intention to do this would help the London 2012 bid. What are your views?
Don Anthony, UK

Caborn: Government cannot dictate to professional football clubs, which in the main are private organisations, how their facilities are used.

But let's look at football as an example: the sport can act as a bridgehead to encourage people to play other sports.

By situating other sports facilities and coaches next to some of the 40,000 football clubs - and by creating multi-sports facilities - football has the potential to increase participation in all sports.

And have you heard about the Playing for Success scheme? This has helped establish out-of-school-hours study support centres at football clubs and other sports' grounds which use sport to motivate pupils who are struggling a little with key subjects such as maths and English.

Marchant: This is beginning to develop through the multi-sports clubs. Within the PESSCL strategy, community coaches are being appointed to create the link between clubs and schools.

They are charged with setting up and developing multi-activities rather than having children specialising too early.

In fact it is anticipated that young people will not start to specialise until they are in secondary school.

Links to more Sport Summit stories


What are the hot topics in sport?
13 Mar 05 |  Sport Homepage

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


E-mail services | Sport on mobiles/PDAs


Back to top

Sport Homepage | Football | Cricket | Rugby Union | Rugby League | Tennis | Golf | Motorsport | Boxing | Athletics | Snooker | Horse Racing | Cycling | Disability Sport | US Sport | Other Sport | Olympics 2004

Scores & Fixtures | Have Your Say | Photo Galleries | TV/Radio Listings

Fun and Games | Question of Sport | BBC Sport Extra

Northern Ireland | Scotland | Wales

BBC Sport Academy >> | BBC News >> | BBC Weather >>
About the BBC | News sources | Privacy & Cookies Policy | Contact us
banner watch listen bbc sport