David Cameron will have to backtrack on school sports

DAVOS/SWITZERLAND, 29JAN10 - David Cameron, Le...Image via Wikipedia

School sports
SSPs help provide an increasing amount of competitive and non-competitive sport within individual schools. Photograph: Alamy David Cameron dug himself in deeper on school sport today at PMQs – but there is still a way he can climb out of the hole. If he doesn’t the coalition will be seriously damaged.
I know that he and Clegg care about sport – and understand it.
But what Cameron’s answers today do not show is that he has yet really understood what will be lost by Gove’s policies.
What we are talking about here is sport in schools not sports matches between them.
School sport partnerships may not be perfect in all parts of the country. But in many schools they do brilliant work, providing PE in and sport across the range for children who would otherwise would not get it.
And in many cases they do it with the help of the very volunteers Cameron wants to man the “big society“.
Cameron has to understand that we are not talking about Eton v Harrow, Charterhouse v Westminster.
We are not talking about old-fashioned “matches”, as Cameron might have known himself at school, but about very basic sports provision, exercise, introducing all kids without privilege to sport.
SSPs help provide an increasing amount of competitive and non-competitive sport within individual schools. This is the vital first step. There is no point in having inter-school matches when the children get no sport in their own schools.
These are not rich private schools that can afford or have the staff to transport kids by bus to other schools twice a week. Instead in the state sector the SSPs provide sport within schools in the main, with the help of local clubs which lend them their facilities.
It is not the day for Cameron to do a U-turn on this. But he is too sensible not to see that Gove has made a big mistake on this, having failed completely to consult within government and among teachers.
The reason the U-turn will, I think, come is that the school sports partnerships are patently successful at providing sport within schools, which is the really vital thing and heads know that.
I have yet to come across a headteacher who agrees with what Gove is doing.
For that reason he will have to change his plans. This is really important. It is not about political point-scoring or humiliating U-turns. It is about the future of sport in our society and about continuing to value the volunteer spirit – continuing to value those who enjoy contributing to such a good causes. Cameron has to move on this.
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