Publications on the internet
UNCORRECTED TRANSCRIPT OF ORAL EVIDENCE To be published as HC 164-i
HOUSE OF COMMONS
TAKEN BEFORE THE
SCHOOL SPORTS FOLLOWING LONDON 2012
TUESDAY 14 MAY 2013
MIKE DIAPER OBE, SUE WILKINSON and ANDY REED
DEREK PEAPLE, LINDA CAIRNS, SHAUN DOWLING and RICHARD SAUNDERS
JONATHAN EDWARDS CBE, LYNNE HUTCHISON, DANIEL KEATINGS and RACHEL SMITH
Evidence heard in Public
Questions 1 - 131
USE OF THE TRANSCRIPT
This is an uncorrected transcript of evidence taken in public and reported to the House. The transcript has been placed on the internet on the authority of the Committee, and copies have been made available by the Vote Office for the use of Members and others.
Any public use of, or reference to, the contents should make clear that neither witnesses nor Members have had the opportunity to correct the record. The transcript is not yet an approved formal record of these proceedings.
Members who receive this for the purpose of correcting questions addressed by them to witnesses are asked to send corrections to the Committee Assistant.
Prospective witnesses may receive this in preparation for any written or oral evidence they may in due course give to the Committee.
Taken before the Education Committee
on Tuesday 14 May 2013
Mr Graham Stuart (Chair)
Mr David Ward
Examination of Witnesses
Witnesses: Mike Diaper OBE, Director of Community Sport, Sport England, Sue Wilkinson, Association for Physical Education, and Andy Reed, Sport and Recreation Alliance, gave evidence.
Chair: Good morning, and welcome to this session of the Education Committee, looking at school sports following London 2012. Welcome back, Andy-it’s nice to see you here.
Andy Reed: Thank you, Mr Stuart.
Q1 Chair: We tend to be fairly informal here and to use first names, if you are all comfortable with that.
Last week, the Secretary of State said that some heads needed knocking together to get county sport partnerships and sport governing bodies to see the potential in the additional funding that is being provided to foster more competitive sports. Is that is what is required to ensure a healthy sporting legacy going forward-a bit more knocking together of heads, Sue?
Sue Wilkinson: I represent quite a few members across the UK, and they are varied in their views, but I am sure some of them would support the Secretary of State, in that, perhaps, some head teachers need to look more widely to support this initiative and investment.
Andy Reed: We represent, again, quite a range of the people you have mentioned, who probably need their heads knocking together. I would say that, largely, that does happen. A lot of people do have children’s physical education right at the forefront of their desire. The only thing I would deconstruct from the Secretary of State’s statement is about more competitive sport. Hopefully, we will go through some of the evidence today that suggests that sport, PE and competitive sport need to be disentangled a little so that we are talking about the same thing. PE, school sport and competitive sport are slightly different from physical literacy from a very young age. So I would want to deconstruct some of that statement, as you would imagine, before moving forward. But, generally, the partnerships are there; they just need to work a lot harder to make things much easier on the ground-I will admit that. There are probably too many of us around the table who need to really try to work together to make the most of this £150 million.
Q2 Chair: We will return to the issue of where competitive sport and participation fit in, but was the Secretary of State right to talk about the need to knock heads together and encourage greater co-operation, Mike?
Mike Diaper: Yes. The more that different sectors-those in school sport, those in community sport-can work together, the greater the impact we will have.
Q3 Chair: Why do they need their heads knocking together? We have had the Olympics, and we have had the school sport partnerships in the past. The Secretary of State said, "Let’s have major investment every year." Surely, we should, by now, have embedded a culture of co-operation and of appreciation of the importance of exercise for the young. That should be embedded in every school. Why isn’t it, after all that money, time and attention?
Andy Reed: My personal view is that we have probably had a lack of clarity. From our point of view-the Sport and Recreation Alliance-we would like to see a genuine cross-departmental approach to this. One of the welcome things from the new moneys is the work of the Departments for Culture, Media and Sport, of Health and for Education on this. We would like to see that encouraged much more widely. Part of the problem is that there has not been a definition of strategically who is leading all these things, and of course when there are new moneys around, there is a tendency to try to find out which part in which slice of the cake is relevant to each. To give really strong strategic direction for this would assist the sector as a whole, because there is still a certain amount of uncertainty about, for example, the Ofsted inspection that will follow the additional moneys. What does that mean for schools?
Also, we need to give the heads the skills to make those choices. This is an issue for many heads of primary schools, particularly small ones. I was at a very small primary school in a village yesterday-Woodhouse Eaves St Paul’s. It is new to them to be able to spend £9,000 on school sport or school PE. We need to put the tools in place for those bodies to try to help them through that very difficult process, and in large parts of the country that is being done.
Q4 Bill Esterson: I want to come to the point about the balance between competitive and non-competitive sport. What do you all think the right balance is, or what should Government be setting that balance at?
Sue Wilkinson: Our members believe it starts as soon as children enter school. If there is good-quality physical education, sport will emanate from that physical education. If children are physically literate, they will be more able to make decisions. It is rather like-
Q5 Bill Esterson: Sorry; can you define "physically literate" please?
Sue Wilkinson: Yes; I am sorry. If they are educated through the physical domain, using their body to move, that is what we call physical literacy. It’s very simple. There are colleagues here who will give you a much broader definition, but it is about understanding how the body works and moves. But also, what our members feel particularly is that if there is a good foundation, you can build on anything. If you try to put a very sophisticated roof on dodgy foundations, we all know what will happen. It is very important that physical education is statutory right the way through school. Children then will go on to take part in other activities, but not just competitive ones; it is about competing with themselves. There are those children and young people who do not want to be involved in a full 11-a-side competitive situation, but who enjoy things like dance and other activities that may not involve competing against anyone other than themselves. We have to get that balance right, because one size does not fit all.
Andy Reed: The physical literacy thing is important. It’s one of those jargon terms that we said we would probably try to avoid using, but as with anything else, you give children the foundations for the skills that will set them up for the rest of their life. You do that in the same way as you do with English and maths in schools. Physical literacy from an early age is the imperative, and that probably means in key stage 1. Towards key stage 2, you might want to start increasing the level of competition for those who are able.
From our point of view, from the point of view of all our members-we represent the 320 governing bodies of sport and recreation-the early starting point is about enjoyment and children having exposure to sport and recreation that sets them up to be physically active for the rest of their life. For some people, that will be a pathway into competitive sport at secondary school and onwards, but for many it will be about informal recreation. Mike will talk about the adult participation figures in a minute, but the reality is that 60% of the population are not going to be playing competitive sport for the rest of their life, so they have to find the physical literacy that allows them to enjoy sport and recreation in its widest sense.
The Nike report, "Designed to Move", demonstrates the importance of building physical activity into our whole lifestyle. They see as absolutely key children’s enjoyment of a wide range of physical activity at the earliest stage. Competition has to be part of it. I still play competitive rugby; sadly, I shouldn’t do, but it’s part of my psyche. But I also understand that for many people and particularly girls-the evidence shows increasingly that an early introduction to competition reduces their enjoyment of sport and reduces their participation. Levels of participation among girls remain quite low, and the drop-off rate is quite high as they go into their teenage years.
Mike Diaper: I definitely agree that there needs to be a balance, starting off with great physical literacy. I’m talking about the basics of what underpins sport: being able to run, throw, jump-all those things. Competition is really important at all levels, but there also need to be other activities for those youngsters who are not turned on by competition. There can be personal challenges, personal bests and personal competitions as well. Competition is really good, but we do need a balance.
Q6 Bill Esterson: On competition then, what is the role of competitive sport in schools? Is it about promoting health, building character or identifying the élite? Do those three aims sit alongside each other, or are they contradictory?
Mike Diaper: I don’t think they have to compete against each other. School sport and also competition in schools can be about fun. It is definitely about winning and losing. It helps us to build team and leadership skills. Those don’t have to compete against each other. In the school games, for example, what we have seen is a widening of participation in competition because instead of having an A team or a first team, there is a second team and a third team, so it gives more youngsters the chance to experience competition.
Andy Reed: Yes, I think I am inclined to agree with that. The whole concept of competition is important in sport; it is a large part of what we are about. It is about the way it is introduced. I don’t think there is a contradiction between each of those. Obviously, unfortunately, the Chair has demonstrated that sport does not always necessarily help physical health; there is a side cost to this. Generally, sport at competition level does enhance people’s physical activity, but, as Mike has just said and I would also keep emphasising, it is much wider than that. There will be those who do not make the first team or indeed any team who need to feel that their contribution, either in movement and dance or other activities that the school undertakes, is just as important to their physical health for the rest of their life. School sport should also be about talent pathway, but there is a question mark over how early you should introduce that. There are a number of sports that are early development sports, such as swimming. You make a decision at about 10 or 11 about how much time you are going to spend on that sport, or if you are going to spend the rest of your life on it. So there are some big life choices for people to make quite early on if they want to go on that talent pathway.
Chair: We have three panels this morning and limited time, but you are doing a great job. You are being succinct and to the point, but we have to be really focused and sharp if we are going to get through and cover the ground.
Q7 Bill Esterson: I will move on to the issue of obesity. Will you just say what the role of school sports is in tackling the obesity problems in young people?
Sue Wilkinson: I notice my colleague at the back there who is a key expert in this area. Physical education and school sport alone will not solve the obesity problem. There has to be a multi-agency approach from parents, carers and right across and it has to be linked with diet and exercise. It is also about attitudes. I am sure all parents know that there is a balance to be had. There is nothing wrong with sitting on the PlayStation as long as it is balanced with appropriate exercise. Obviously, the one place where everybody gets some kind of physical activity is in schools, but we all have to work together. That point was made very early on in this discussion. We need a multi-agency approach with everyone working together in a corporate alliance and not sitting in silos.
Andy Reed: Absolutely. I was just saying that trying to build in physical activity and having a willingness to take physical activity for the rest of one’s life is embedded early in those school years. Absolutely, it should be for the long term. Of course it is a multi-agency approach. It is about diet and other things, but physical activity will play a key role in demonstrating that. There is a lot of evidence about the cost-effectiveness, even later in life, of physical activity for managing the obesity crisis that is heading our way.
Q8 Alex Cunningham: There has not been a school sports teacher that I have met who does not lament the end of the school sport partnerships and the resources they brought. The Secretary of State suggested that they were not the best use of money, so can we really say they are a great loss in terms of delivery? Is there another way to get similar benefits for less resource?
Mike Diaper: I think school sport partnerships delivered a specific role and many, many of them did a very good job in doing that. Like any network, there were some very strong ones and some weaker ones. From our point of view at Sport England, the key reason we are involved in school sport is helping to foster that lifelong participation in sport. One of the things that school sport partnerships were not set up to do was necessarily foster that lifelong participation. Actually, during their time, we saw drop-off get worse at 16, and not better. I think they did some great things, but what I would really like to see is school and community sport coming ever closer together and meeting the needs of children, whether they are talented or whether they are doing it for fitness or health or just for fun.
Q9 Alex Cunningham: What about the resource side?
Andy Reed: As you know the whole sector was very disappointed with the cutting of the resource and loss of the school sport partnerships. If there was a problem with bureaucracy, our line was that we would have preferred to tackle the bureaucracy rather than the funding as the issue. Clearly, there is a lot of evidence-I have a vested interest with the Youth Sport Trust based in Loughborough, my old constituency-and much of the research into the effectiveness of the school sport partnerships comes from the Institute of Youth Sport. I looked at that again yesterday, and its 2010 survey demonstrated enormous progress in delivery.
Going back to your original question, Chairman, part of the problem is to bang some heads together to get a genuine joined-up approach in the role of county sport partnerships and school sport partnerships where they still exist. Many of us have re-created them, as you know, by using other resources. In Leicestershire, we have got many schools to buy back in and re-create SSPs in part of the county, so there is a bit of a postcode lottery.
Q10 Alex Cunningham: Are they operating in a similar way?
Andy Reed: A couple of ours are, exactly. We have almost re-created the SSPs, but on about 70% of the funding, so we have got the local authority and schools to buy in. We may come on to how to use the £150 million, but it is part of the model I would like to see, going back to the original question about co-operating, so that we don’t have a sudden flurry of everyone trying to spend their £9,000. You need a bit of a co-ordinated approach across a county or local authority area to make sure there is some joined-up thinking. It is a shame there has been a gap in that funding, but we are where we are, and we are grateful for the £150 million. It is now up to us as a sector to spend it as effectively as possible for children throughout the country.
Q11 Ian Mearns: It was a knee-jerk reaction, wasn’t it, to abolish them? There were places where they could have been stronger but also places where they were very effective; but the way in which the funding for all of them was cut out at a stroke seemed gratuitous. It created a vacuum for school sport for many months, and a solution was brought down the line when it was understood that mistakes had been made.
Sue Wilkinson: Our members have varied views, obviously, and it is a shame when funding goes, but the key issue for us was plans for sustainability. Mike talked about them being very successful because they planned for that sustainability. They knew the funding would end eventually-it was never there for life-and those who planned strategically for that had a greater impact. Obviously, physical education was always statutory, so it should not have subsided in any way, shape or form. Other areas did because of the lack of funding, but some school sport partnerships have been extremely creative and need praising for the way they have continued. However, we need to plan for sustainability, which this funding seems to be wanting to do.
Q12 Alex Cunningham: Looking across the piece, has the impetus from the school sport partnerships been sustained, or do you think there has been a dropping off, a deceleration, or what?
Sue Wilkinson: It has varied. That is not a get-out answer. It has varied throughout the country, especially where head teachers have been supportive. That great leadership has meant that it has continued. The Ofsted report recently showed some very good practice, but sadly one in four primary schools and one in three secondary schools still have some work to do out there, so we must build on that.
Q13 Chair: The Ofsted report suggested that there has been continued improvement. Is that right?
Mike Diaper: In the quality of teaching, yes.
Q14 Chair: Do you think that is right?
Sue Wilkinson: Yes, I think there has. It was a small sample.
Q15 Chair: Because if the SSPs going was such a disaster-I want to tease this out-you would have expected a major fall-back in the vacuum, but if things overall, with ups and downs in different places, have genuinely improved, that suggests that it was perhaps not as critical as was suggested.
` Sue Wilkinson: The Ofsted report showed that there were some positives, as you would expect, but one in three secondary schools and one in four primary schools still need to improve. Anything we can build on to improve that picture will be great.
Andy Reed: On that point, clearly there is a lot of momentum behind SSPs even with the cut in funding and, as Sue said, the ingenuity and creativity of individual SSPs to try to maintain much of what they created has enabled that, and that is what we want to see from this: some sustainability so that even if the funding disappeared, you would have troops on the ground across all schools trying to deliver.
Mike Diaper: Crucial to that sustainability has been head teachers taking an interest and valuing PE and school sport.
Q16 Alex Cunningham: Some do and some don’t. There are fantastic examples east of London in some of the schools we visited, but we always get shown the best; we never get shown the other.
Andy Reed: The world smells of fresh paint.
Q17 Alex Cunningham: Exactly.
Andy Reed: There is a danger of a postcode lottery. That is one of things in this. We welcome the money and the heads’ involvement, but that is why it needs some assistance to help get heads through what is a very complex world in which to purchase a variety of those different options they have. It may be a school sport partnership, but recreated. It may be from a private provider. It may be just upskilling existing staff within the school to become full-time PE teachers. That is actually quite difficult, and you will end up with that postcode lottery unless we have that in place for all of them.
Q18 Ian Mearns: Is anybody doing a comprehensive survey, in that case, of how it is actually working out across the country? It is a patchwork quilt, as you have said. I know for a fact that in some areas the sports partnerships legacy has struggled because of a funding gap, where some local authorities have had bigger cuts than others, and the capacity is quite different from area to area.
Andy Reed: I think you will find that from some of the later evidence, certainly from people doing some of that work-the Youth Sport Trust; I know county sports partnerships are talking to you again. We monitor it on very generic feedback, because the Youth Sport Trust and a lot of the CSPs are members of ours, so we get a top line. I have a vested interest as the chair of a county sports partnership, so I know what is going on in Leicestershire. We have had to take a bit of that leadership role to try to make sure there is not a bit of a postcode lottery. Actually, even within that, some heads have cut the number of hours of PE: if they get a bad Ofsted, they pile all their resources into maths and English at the expense of PE. To go back to the original question, it is about taking a strategic lead and saying, "PE and sport are central to what the school should do." Having a very strong message would be really helpful.
Q19 Alex Cunningham: You have just touched on the hours spent in physical activity. How can the effectiveness of school sport policy be measured? Is it a case of the number of hours of participation by individual children, or is that a bit crude?
Sue Wilkinson: Just from an Ofsted point of view, it is the quality. We have always said that, as an association, we would rather see an hour and a half of quality that is having an impact on children’s physical welfare and physical health and well-being, than an hour of poor practice.
Q20 Alex Cunningham: So how are you measuring this, Sue, when your guys go into schools?
Sue Wilkinson: What we have is a quality mark, which replaced the Ofsted inspection of the subject when the foundation subjects were suspended last summer. The only way you can actually do it is by seeing the impact on young people. You can do a paper trawl, but there is nothing better than seeing it live. You just know when it is good quality.
Q21 Alex Cunningham: We are tight for time. Would you guys agree with that?
Andy Reed: Yes.
Mike Diaper: Yes.
Q22 Alex Cunningham: A number of organisations are involved in the delivery of sport nationally. I wonder how that actually affects schools. What does it mean for schools? How do they get the best out of that?
Mike Diaper: I think that there are a number of agencies. Over the last years, there has been greater clarity: it is DFE at a Government level that is responsible for school sport; it is DCMS that is responsible for all other sport. Underneath that, there are just two agencies: Sport England-Community Sport-with targeted investment adding to the value of DFE, and then UK Sport. I do think that getting as much resource down as local as possible either into schools or, in our area, into clubs and youth groups is one of the best ways of getting-
Q23 Alex Cunningham: Is that happening, though? It is so easy for money to be wrapped up in bureaucracy, and the stuff at the sharp end is-
Mike Diaper: Certainly in terms of our youth and community strategy, we are seeking to get as much of that funding-
Q24 Alex Cunningham: But is it happening?
Mike Diaper: Yes, it is, through our legacy programme.
Q25 Alex Cunningham: What proportion is actually getting to the sharp end?
Mike Diaper: Some £250 million of our investment over the next five years is for local funding. For example, we have improved 1,000 local clubs. The pavilion may have been falling down, which would have stopped everybody from playing sports, so we have rebuilt it. We have put drainage in to protect over 500 playing pitches. We also have programmes such as Sportivate, which give youngsters six to eight weeks of coaching, and then crucially find them somewhere to carry on with that sport long-term. Some £56 million of that money is going to a very local level, through county sports partnerships, to clubs and youth groups.
Q26 Alex Cunningham: I have been very proud to open some of those projects in my constituency that you refer to, so I know that you are actually talking on the money there. Andy?
Andy Reed: I think it is changing. There has been a shift back to working through national governing bodies to do that. From a teacher’s or a head teacher’s point of view, it can be quite a complex area when you step into this world. It has taken me 15 years to learn most of the acronyms that are involved in the sports world, and I am sure that over the next few weeks you will learn a few more as a Committee. So it can be complex, and what we are trying to achieve is a join-up between the school system and community sport. That has always been the weak link. When you get to the school-club link and people transition from the school environment into the local club, that is where we lose most of our individuals. We have never really quite got that right yet. The programme that you have, to try and join those up, hopefully could be the answer.
Mike Diaper: School-club links have sometimes been nothing more than a poster on the wall, and only the most sporty are going to go and follow that.
Q27 Chair: Alex’s question was about the plethora of organisations and about whether, overall, it is too confusing or we broadly do have some sort of rational structure in which the poor benighted head of a small primary school, given a few thousand quid, can easily engage and do the best for her pupils. Yes or no? It has been said that what we have now, which looks pretty disordered at first glance, is better than what we had.
Sue Wilkinson: At head teacher level, they are telling us-I know you will speak to schools and I am sure they will tell you this-that 48 hours after the announcement was made their inboxes increased by 75%, with outside companies wanting to engage in the money. They had not even picked up on the fact that the money will not be available until September or October. Although schools are delighted to be engaged in this at their level, they are looking to the Department for Education for some guidance on effective use because they are confused: can they use it for this? They do now know that it is ring-fenced.
Q28 Chair: Are you all nodding? Greater clarity, not a prescriptive order but a bit of clarity from DFE would be welcome by people at this stage. Is that right?
All three witnesses Indicated assent.
Q29 Mr Ward: On the structure, for a short while I thought I understood it because we had Sport England, and we had a regional level, West Yorkshire, and then within Bradford district we had five sports partnerships-six if you go up the Aire valley. The whole structure, the very close links and support with the schools partnership, working within the school, all for a while seemed really understandable. That has gone now and we are back to this something else. Wasn’t that a structure that was understandable and of value? Presumably it is replicated across the country.
Chair: Have you anything to add to your earlier answer?
Mr Ward: We had a community sports network, which represented the district, and underneath that we had the five area sports partnerships and it worked very well.
Andy Reed: We thought the structure was working well. Clearly, there were issues for certain people around the level of bureaucracy that went with it; that was one of the suggestions for its cuts and demise. We all sort of regretted that. There has been a two-year gap and we are where we are now, and we have to rebuild a lot of that. It has shifted the money to the head teacher, which takes away some of that structure but, as we have just all said, now is for us to at least recreate some of that partnership working, to give them some clarity about how best to use the very welcome resources. None of us can deny that £150 million is probably just about the top end of what we would have expected or wanted to be put into that level. So it is about recreating that, unfortunately, but-
Q30 Mr Ward: You have no idea how many times as a Committee we have sat here and said, "We are where we are and we have to get on with it." But, there you go.
Andy Reed: I do apologise, I am a half-full sort of person: let’s do what we can with what we’ve got.
Sue Wilkinson: May I say that Bradford was the first local authority to ask for support for its head teachers? I spoke there in April, and they were very passionate to continue. They are delighted to be empowered, but want some guidance.
Q31 Ian Mearns: Sue, I think your organisation has been critical about the impact and the effectiveness of the teacher release scheme, and we know where you are at on that. I look at the other two members of the panel: do you agree with that assessment, about the impact and effectiveness being poor?
Mike Diaper: I think what is different about the primary sports premium and the teacher release is that the primary sports premium is ring-fenced for PE in sport and must be spent on that. Also, I know that we don’t have the detail yet, but Ofsted is going to play a role, through the section 10 inspections, looking at PE in sport, and through subject surveys to inspect, and schools will be reported. That, for me, is the key difference, and it means that we know the money will be spent on PE in sport.
I totally agree that head teachers and schools need some help. They need a wide menu because the needs of children will be different, but they need some help on how best to deploy that funding.
Andy Reed: With brevity, I agree. It is a good point. The potential for this new money is much greater than perhaps under the old system.
Q32 Ian Mearns: May we have a couple of sentences on the reason why your organisation has criticised the teacher release scheme?
Sue Wilkinson: Firstly, a lack of monitoring of where the money was spent. That meant for some it was not a priority and the schools missed out, which was a great shame.
Q33 Chair: So the secondary school just took the money? It was supposed to release a teacher to help primary, if I have it right, and it just did not do it?
Sue Wilkinson: We have some clear evidence. Head teachers were perhaps confused as to how to spend the money.
Q34 Chair: Maybe they were crystal clear but did not want to spend it on that.
Sue Wilkinson: That is why, secondly, the ring fence is critical. The independent view from Ofsted will evidence how well it is being spent.
Q35 Ian Mearns: Are there any particular opportunities and risks that you see arising from the primary sports premium?
Sue Wilkinson: I think the Government across parties have mitigated the risks because of the independence of the Ofsted inspections. Head teachers know it will be monitored, even in a section 5 general inspection, which is really important. The risk is on how equipped the Ofsted inspectors are to look at PE and school sport, because the focus has been on English, maths and science.
Andy Reed: The risk for me, however welcome the money and the power being given to heads, is on the lack of sustainability. The key for me is trying to get each school to get the mix right. They can probably buy in some staff, but actually they can improve their teacher training and the personal development of each of their teachers. If the £150 million a year disappeared in 2015-it is only a two-year programme-what would be left? For me, the measure is how sustainable the new system will be. Rather than just going out and spending your £9,000 to have the maximum impact over the next two years, it is about long-term sustainability. That is potentially the biggest risk of having it devolved at that level.
Q36 Chair: So your message would be, "Use the money to invest in your staff for the long term, because the money could dry up"?
Andy Reed: As part of that mix. I would not exclude the others, but it is a core part, as far as I can see.
Mike Diaper: I agree with Andy. The risk I see is that schools might be inundated with 50, 40 or goodness knows how many offers. For some schools it will be difficult to choose what is best. That is why I am keen to see many sports and other agencies working together to combine an offer.
Q37 Ian Mearns: Over the years, schools have been expected to do an awful lot of different areas of development work on a whole range of different schemes and initiatives and absorb it into the main. When you put the whole lot together it becomes very difficult to sustain.
Andy Reed: Yes. Our members and the national governing bodies have done an enormous series of programmes: the Lawn Tennis Association with the Aegon programme; the Rugby Football Union has the all-schools programme going in; and the Football Association has the Tesco skills thing. Enormous resource can come from outside, so they are available, but to be sustainable it needs to be integrated into a long-term path.
Q38 Ian Mearns: My next question was going to be about the longevity of the funding. We have a two-year programme, so am I getting that two years isn’t enough?
Sue Wilkinson: Investment is always welcome.
Q39 Ian Mearns: You can say what you want, but no one is listening.
Sue Wilkinson: The legacy here is the sustainability of good-quality teaching and learning; it is not about just throwing the money, as Mike said, at all these offers. The head teachers must audit the needs. If it is about upskilling teachers, that is absolutely fine. If it is about transport and getting children to competitions because they have not been able to get to them, that is fine. But the legacy has to be based on good-quality provision because it will build whole-school improvement and address so many other agendas.
Q40 Ian Mearns: In a perfect world, how would you see the programme? It is all very well saying that you can have it in perpetuity, but if you want to design a programme to be sustainable going forward, how long would you see it working?
Sue Wilkinson: Research always says that it is three years for sustainability, but two years is a great start-don’t take it away.
Q41 Ian Mearns: It is rightly argued that primary schools should be the focus for the additional resources. Is there an opportunity for additional resources held by secondary schools to be deployed more effectively to benefit their primary neighbours?
Andy Reed: Yes. Obviously that was one of the lessons of the SSPs. There is that sort of interconnectivity with those. From my point of view, primary is a great place to start. Going back to what I was saying right at the beginning about embedding fun and enjoyment in physical activity and sport so that it can be lifelong, that is what all the evidence shows. If you look at the commercial world, where do they target much of their effort? It is at enticing young people into their products, and sport needs to think like that. There are too many people who are put off sport and physical activity for the rest of their life by their experiences of school sport, so we need to do that. There are some dangers in not having the money. Take swimming, for example. I am sure the ASA would point out in the swimming survey the amount of school sport. The cuts make it very difficult now. Swimming is a compulsory part of the national curriculum. The figures are quite disappointing on the number of children who can swim by the age of 11. So there are some other pressures.
We would never say no to more money, but money is not always necessarily the answer. It is about integrating things and a simple joining up of the other Departments’ involvement in sport and physical activity and a genuine commitment from the Department to say that sport and physical activity is a genuine part of the school curriculum and is very important. That in itself would be a massive signal that schools would work with. What is measured is important these days in schools. If a signal comes from the top that PE and sport is integral to what we want to see, that would be as beneficial for every head as just pure money.
Q42 Alex Cunningham: Sue talked about the huge increase in the number of e-mails that schools were receiving from anybody and his uncle offering various things. Is there any evidence that some schools may have just said, "That’s an easy option. This guy’s local. He does this. We can spend our £9,000 and we have fulfilled our duty," and wasted it?
Mike Diaper: I am sure some schools might have done that, but I think it is too early to know the impact. What counteracts that is knowing that Ofsted will come and look both through general inspections and through subject surveys. I truly believe that head teachers want to do what is best for their pupils.
Q43 Ian Mearns: To Mike in particular, how adequate was the original funding for sport for disabled children within schools? Is there a way in which we can measure success in that?
Mike Diaper: Through the School Games we have had particular focus on not just engaging able-bodied people in the competitions, but getting meaningful competition for young disabled people. Alongside all the mainstream funding between 2011 and the end of this financial year, we will have invested £3.6 million targeted funding into getting disabled youngsters involved. Through all of the competition there is a requirement that there is inclusive sport, so if you are offering athletics there should be an inclusive option for any youngsters who have a disability.
Right at the harder end of special needs or disability, we have sports such as polybat, which is an adapted version of table tennis, along with table cricket. We are trying very much to get there. We monitor how many youngsters are taking up those opportunities. At level 1, in the school against school competition, there were some 14,000 youngsters in the first year doing that. We are having some success at that, but there is always more to be done.
Q44 Mr Ward: As my colleagues have heard me say before, I played quite a bit of sport when I was younger. I played tennis three weeks a year, which was Wimbledon fortnight and the week after. I would queue up to get on the courts because everybody else was doing the same.
I want to ask about the Olympic legacy. Sue, you said in your submission that in your view 2012 has had a limited impact, particularly in the take-up of school sports. What evidence do you have to support that?
Sue Wilkinson: We are working with colleagues in national governing bodies and clubs. Although some have actually gone through the roof in terms of participation, others have not. Obviously, with the cuts and staffing pressures from school, it has declined in some parts, so it has not been a positive trajectory across the country from our members.
Q45 Mr Ward: In terms of the Olympic legacy itself and the Government plans, are you aware of a clear plan for developing that legacy? We all know what was said before the games-the justification for it-but is there a clear Government plan, in your view, that it is being delivered?
Mike Diaper: In terms of youth and community sport, yes, I do think there is a clear plan. It is what we are investing £1 billion into between now and 2017. It is about helping more clubs and getting more people into weekly participation, and we are seeing an upward trajectory. Since we won the right to stage the Games in 2005, an additional 1.6 million people have started playing sport on a weekly basis; 750 of those came in the last 12 months. There is no room for complacency. We have to keep doing more, but I think there are some sound youth and community plans in place.
Andy Reed: There is an infrastructure there, ready to take on a lot of the increased interest. I think we did inspire a generation with the Olympics, and particularly in schools, I have seen that as being lifted. In our own research, we did work around the Paralympics and the potential upsurge in interest. What we found was a great deal of interest-so, hits on the websites for ParalympicsGB and the English Federation of Disability Sport. People were really interested, but we found in our club survey that that was not transitioning through and being seen, in terms of people turning up at the clubs. Quite often, it comes back to the disability question around schools. In that area in particular, we are still behind the curve. I think everybody would accept that however good SSPs and others were around disability and inclusiveness in school sports, we were late to the table with that. There is a difficulty in turning that interest into people actually physically turning up at their sports club, and all those other things, on a regular basis.
Q46 Mr Ward: Is there a regional difference? We visited schools in east London, literally a javelin’s throw from the Olympic stadium. They were clearly inspired by it, but they also had new facilities in the area that they were very much aware of and using. As one of our colleagues said, for many people the Olympic games were very exciting, and they watched it on TV, but it could have been Timbuktu-many miles away from London. Is there a regional variation?
Andy Reed: I have no evidence of that as of yet. As you know, in terms of interest, in all the evidence in the build-up to the Olympics, some of those regions, such as Northern Ireland, always had the greatest positive net results on their engagement with the Olympics.
There is a bit of a problem in terms of Olympic and élite sport being seen as a demonstration for those already taking part in sport, possibly encouraging them to do a little bit more. But there is a lot of evidence showing that, even at Paralympic and Olympic levels, it is a block for those people who are not physically active. If you see élite athletes performing, it does not inspire you, if you are unfit and unhealthy, to want to take part in that activity. So I think we perhaps got slightly carried away by the inspirational part of the Olympics, because it is hard work to get individuals who are not participating-even if it is only tennis three times a year, at least you are engaged in that, and you are low-hanging fruit with which to work. There are many more who cannot.
Q47 Bill Esterson: You have also hinted that we have not made as much of the Olympics as perhaps we might have. I am assuming it is still not too late to pick up on the Olympic legacy. What is the one thing that could be done to make the most of it?
Mike Diaper: I don’t think it is too late, because I don’t think legacy comes the month or week after the Olympics. It is about what is happening this coming summer, and in the summers of 2014 and 2015. The best thing we can do from the Olympics is to change people’s behaviours and get more and more people involved in sport, for fitness, for talent, for competition-for whatever reason.
Q48 Chair: Okay, Mike. If you become Secretary of State for Education and the best friend of the Prime Minister all at the same time, so you can do whatever you want, what is the one thing that is most important?
Mike Diaper: I think it is giving stability in both school sport and community sport, and getting them to work more closely together.
Q49 Ian Mearns: There was some anecdotal evidence, immediately following the Olympics, that a number of sports clubs around the country, particularly in sports where we had success, did get a lot of local applications from people to try and get involved. Of course, there were significant capacity issues among those clubs to harness that enthusiasm. The trouble is that if you do not harness it straight away and get those people in, the interest will tail off. I had anecdotal evidence of that in the north-east of England. Was that the general picture?
Andy Reed: I heard exactly the same anecdotal evidence. I had friends who were phoning around coaches and ex-coaches. In hockey, for example, they had had a spike. Hundreds of people turned up at an open day, and they were just not prepared for the right number of individuals. I tried the same-I tried going on the handball website. I had played a few years ago and fancied another go, but the website crashed. It is the same sort of thing, because I did not then revisit, so I may have been lost to handball for that reason. So there were some technical and capacity issues. [Interruption.] Yes, I should try again, shouldn’t I? But I think the general picture is positive.
Q50 Bill Esterson: Is there a fix to that problem? I think everybody has come across that issue.
Andy Reed: I think you would find lots of people who had really positive experiences as well. It is like the ticketing of the Olympics. We all like to moan about some aspects of it, but 2 million people went successfully and really enjoyed it. It is a bit of a British thing to moan about some of those aspects. Generally, from what I have seen, there has been an uplift in the number of people getting involved in sport, and that is coming through in the Active People survey.
Mike Diaper: I think with the best sports-you might have turned up and the club was full. Sale Harriers is always going to be very full and it is very élite. The best clubs would have then told you, "There are one or two other places within an easy distance." That is what the best sports did.
Andy Reed: There’s lots of space.
Q51 Mr Ward: And, quickly, what is the importance of teacher training in terms of the Olympic legacy?
Andy Reed: Six hours has always been a bugbear. It has never been enough. If we are talking about sustainability and the risk, I would suggest that that is really important; because actually, the best thing you could probably do, if we are being realistic, would be to have a specialist in PE in every one of the 16,500 primary schools, by building it into the teacher training. I think that would make that largely possible. Therefore it has never been to me something that was out of our reach, to have a PE specialist in every school.
Sue Wilkinson: I totally agree with what Andy is saying, but it is not just initial; it has got to be a journey. You know, doctors just don’t train once. It is ongoing if we want to sustain it and improve, and head teachers have to commit to that, that it is not just a professional journey in English, maths and science; it is right across the curriculum, or else they won’t get whole-school improvement.
Q52 Mr Ward: I have one further question on School Games, which Mike has already mentioned; do you have anything to add? I don’t know very much about the programme itself, but I understand there is limited funding through to 2015.
Mike Diaper: Its lottery funding and the Exchequer funding is confirmed until 2015. Certainly we would be able to continue with some lottery funding beyond that, but it is dependent on the spending review.
Chair: Were the School Games a good idea? If the Government put money into something, the sector always likes it; the National Citizen Service was a big injection into youth provision. Generally with a Government new idea, the sector would tend to say, "Well, thanks very much, because without it we would probably get nowt." The question remains, if you had that money and you could just spend it however you liked, would you have set up a scheme like this, or would you have spent it somewhere else? The risk is you say no to the one the Government want to give you, and get nowt; but the question still remains. If you had had the money that has gone into the School Games, would you have done the School Games or would you have done something else which would have had a better long-term impact?
Andy Reed: I think we personally would have done what we are doing now, but the other way round-build the capacity in primary schools and then add on the School Games. It was at the time the cuts had taken place in SSPs, and therefore any Government injection into the school sports system was welcome. You said it perfectly; you wouldn’t say no to an injection, and competition is part of the mix, so why would anybody want to say no to that? But actually I think we would have done it the other way round.
Chair: Thank you, all three of you, for coming and giving evidence to us this morning.
Examination of Witnesses
Witnesses: Derek Peaple, Head Teacher, Park House School, Linda Cairns, School Sport Co-ordinator, George Abbot School, Shaun Dowling, Head of Sport, United Learning, and Richard Saunders, Chairman, Country Sports Partnership Network, gave evidence.
Q53 Chair: Welcome. Thank you for joining us. We can carry on in informal style with the use of first names, if you are all comfortable with that. It is very good of you all to turn up today. In terms of school sports, how much of success or otherwise in a school is just down to the interest and will of the head teacher? Is that the key difference; some heads just aren’t that bothered, and therefore it is not very good, and where they are bothered it can be excellent? Discuss.
Richard Saunders: I think there are examples where if the head is not engaged it is harder to make the system work, but it is not necessarily about just the specific influence that the head will have, which will clearly be a dominant part of it; it is the rest of the system that is wrapped round it. I think the message is that that system pushes into the school, which is important. I think we heard in the early session some of the positive messages about what it can do for whole-school improvement, what it can do for health, tackling some of the issues around obesity, etc. By strengthening the whole network around schools and by integrating on a continuum community sport and school sport, we will all have an opportunity to put messages into schools that will be picked up by parents and governors that may put pressure on those head teachers who say that it is not for them.
Derek Peaple: I would echo a lot of that. I have been a passionate advocate of the influence of PE and school sport on whole-school improvement for a significant number of years, but it is about how those head teachers then operate within a clear, constructive and helpful framework to ensure that those key messages are shared. The phrase used in the first session was "banging heads together." Hopefully, it is about bringing heads together in a collaborative and supportive network. The primary school sport funding premium does offer an opportunity to do that if it is appropriately supported.
Q54 Chair: Of course, what we do as a Committee is to pick an area for inquiry-we are free to do whatever we like-and then conduct visits, hold oral evidence sessions and take written evidence. We then write a report making recommendations to Government, and they are obliged to reply to us within two months. We should not end this session without you telling us the things that you would like to have in our report. The business end of what we do is recommendations to the Government, so if there is any recommendation, no matter whether it is small or technical, that you think will make a difference at the margin or is central and transformative, then do make sure that you tell us what it is and hammer it home to us, because we are looking for ways to improve the situation. We want to recognise what is good now that should be protected and what needs to be challenged and changed. Maximum clarity in that would be useful. I will now hand over to Bill.
Q55 Bill Esterson: We were talking earlier about whether the school sport partnerships had been a success-or to what extent they had been a success. The Australian Sports Commission said that it was astounded that that had gone, and Sport New Zealand described SSPs as "a critical success factor in creating this world-class sport system for youth", although we did hear some concern about the drop-off at the age of 16 as a result of the involvement of SSPs. What is your assessment of the success or otherwise of school sport partnerships?
Linda Cairns: I think I should start on that one. I think they were very variable. There were some very good ones and some not so good ones. Some of them have still carried on. There are one or two examples that have been talked about in Stafford and Stone where very dynamic and entrepreneurial partnership development managers have kept them going, but they are very much in the minority. In the majority of cases, the system is tailing off and there are one or two school sports co-ordinators such as myself left.
The strength of the school sport partnerships was in making the school to community club links that Mike talked about happen, and that is what I see as not happening now nearly as effectively as it happened then, and also the very effective networking that happened between primary and secondary schools to the benefit of both types of schools. The primaries benefited by having the input and the support of their secondary, and the secondaries benefited by having the leadership opportunities-they sent in their secondary leaders to their primaries to deliver activities. It was a great system where everybody gained.
Q56 Bill Esterson: So in some places those changes have been sustained?
Linda Cairns: Yes.
Q57 Bill Esterson: But there is patchy evidence of that throughout the country?
Linda Cairns: Yes. And I am here to represent an area where it has not been sustained.
Q58 Bill Esterson: Would others like to comment?
Shaun Dowling: Certainly, from a United Learning Trust perspective, we have independent schools and state academies around the country. All of our schools are committed to this Olympic legacy, and our advice and encouragement to our schools is that they do work in local partnerships. Certainly, when it came to the pupil premium money and the sport premium money, our recommendation to our primary schools was that they invest in the local infrastructure that is around. So we encouraged our schools to work with their local community of schools and to use some of that investment to that effect.
Q59 Alex Cunningham: You encourage them, but is that happening? How many? Is it a high proportion or a low proportion? Is it 80%?
Shaun Dowling: I have been in post six weeks. Part of the reason for the creation of this post is that we ran a United Learning panel survey and 2,000-plus students responded, 68% of whom said they wanted to participate more in new sports. Part of my role was to take those intentions into behaviours. One of the aspects of my role is to work with our primary schools on that. I spent half an hour with Southway primary school in West Sussex last week. They have identified the pupil progress needs for their school and the staff development needs in physical education and school sport. They have made a submission to their local hub school saying, "This is where we would like support. What will be the cost of providing that support to us?" It is actually happening on the ground. That is a really good example.
Q60 Mr Ward: I have a question about the survey. You have evidence that 60% of those in the survey said they wanted to participate more. Have they done so?
Shaun Dowling: Part of my role is to support the schools in taking those intentions into behaviours. I can give you some examples of where they definitely are, which links into a previous question about sporting uptake. Bournemouth collegiate school, where I was yesterday, have had a threefold increase in their school volleyball club since the Olympics. They set up a triathlon club in the school which is now a community-based club as well, such is the increase in interest in that sport. You can go to Shoreham academy, where handball is massively on the rise on the back of the Olympics. It is absolutely happening, and not just in Olympic sports but in Paralympic sports as well.
Q61 Chair: I will cut you off there, Shaun, if I may. The original question was whether the loss of the SSP infrastructure that was taken on-when the SSPs were in place, it was patchy. Some were excellent, some were poor. We hear it is patchy now. The question was whether we have lost significantly as a result of the ending of the school sport partnerships. What are your thoughts on that, Richard?
Richard Saunders: We clearly have lost something that was there, but my feeling is that other systems are starting to emerge which are defined locally. A big part of that, from my perspective on the county sports partnerships, is how engaged as individual networks the school sport partnerships have been in a wider agenda. When that has been the case-when the funding went, and the spotlight was on those networks to see how they would react-those that have had the support of the local authorities and a wider network of partners are probably the ones that have been helped more to sustain them. They do not all look the same, of course, but it seems to me and my colleagues in the network that it is key that whatever that replacement structure is, it should enable effective communications between primary and secondary schools, and allow that to continue.
Derek Peaple: I think Berkshire is one of those partnerships which creatively sustained itself. I think the success of the delivery of our School Games, the outstanding multi-sports festival in the south, was based on the quality of those long-term relationships and of primary and secondary working, but also, as Richard is pointing out, on the quality of relationships between the group of school games organisers and their predecessors within the school sport partnership, the county sports partnership and other stakeholders, so there was a coherent and clearly understood structure.
One key point in terms of taking this forward-I reference the concept of a local organising committee to a strategic organising committee-is to have a holistic overview of how young people are on a journey through primary and secondary school and out into the community. That is a key legacy of the transition from school sport partnerships, which probably were variable in quality, to a coherent and strategic body that can drive PE and school and community sport forward.
Q62 Bill Esterson: Can you explain how this differs from SSPs? I think you are saying that it is the formal nature of it, so you have a much more consistent approach around the country. Is that what you are talking about?
Derek Peaple: It would obviously be ideal if there were a coherent structure to a network. Clearly, that would be open to local interpretation in terms of what the overall membership would look like, but I think a point was made earlier about elements of confusion about where particular key decision makers and funding streams may be. If there was an opportunity to clarify that through evolution of the school sport partnerships into the committees that have been developed to deliver School Games where there are overlaps with those personnel in areas, and then develop that as a legacy project to bring together school and community sport, that would be very powerful.
Q63 Bill Esterson: Have you analysed how much it is likely to cost and what the comparison is with the cost of school sport partnerships-both the financial cost and the number of people who would be involved in running it?
Derek Peaple: I think the opportunity will come with the first tier-the quality of partnership working from primary to secondary schools through the PE and school sport premium. That will be the first element. At the second tier, the concern is that we will not have that teacher release model and it will be down to individual schools to make decisions about where that funding is directed. At the third level will be the quality of local working relationships between county sports partnerships, national governing bodies and the school sector. Some clarity about that would be really helpful.
Q64 Bill Esterson: So it is not particularly a question of funding?
Derek Peaple: No. Clearly, continued investment will be significant and advantageous, and we are funded until 2015. Certainly a bridge into Rio would be particularly helpful as a legacy, but it is about creating the capacity to make those structures sustainable, through the training of primary PE staff and so forth.
Q65 Bill Esterson: Have other models been shown to be effective in delivering school sports? Shaun mentioned what is going on within your academy chain, but are there others across the country? What evidence is there of this?
Linda Cairns: I can’t suggest another model, but I can say some ways in which the current process in the School Games is not working so well and communication is not working so well.
Q66 Bill Esterson: How would you suggest improvement, going back to Graham’s point at the start?
Linda Cairns: I think improvement in communication because, with all due respect to my School Games colleagues whom I work with in my secondary, since the primaries no longer have their primary link teacher they no longer have a person who is devoted to PE. They just don’t have the communication channels, so where the School Games organisers are trying to deliver the School Games and inspire the primaries to take part in additional competitions, the primaries have gone into shut-down and are saying that their PE co-ordinators are just like their history co-ordinators: they are class teachers and they cannot take on all the extra stuff in addition to teaching their classes. They can perhaps cope with the little local network of their football and netball fixtures and the odd tag rugby festival, but they can’t be bombarded with other School Games ideas because they just don’t have the resources to take advantage of them. I don’t think the School Games organisers have the long standing and networking with the primaries to be able to get messages through.
Increasingly, in the secondaries, the School Games people do not have the communication channels because they were previously with teacher release school sport co-ordinators who are diminishing.
Richard Saunders: I personally think that there is no CSP manager in the country who doesn’t feel that part of their responsibility about how that jigsaw fits together wherever they live is a key part of our job and our roles. Therefore, I would expect in each county area you could talk through to the CSPs to understand what local solutions are on the ground at the moment, and how things are changing because different models are emerging. It is our day job in a sense and the role of the county sports partnerships to be thinking about how those things work.
Q67 Bill Esterson: Do you have the resources to do the job?
Richard Saunders: We have resources to do what we are currently asked to do. If a greater role was needed in order to have that ability to make sure the system is pulled together and therefore the demands were more, we would need more resources. It is proportional to what is required, but you have 49 points of access to do that, based on what my colleagues are saying here and were saying earlier-that we are looking at an integrated system. It has to be a joined-up approach.
Q68 Bill Esterson: Shaun, you were telling us about your experience with the ULT academy chain. Is there something other schools can learn from this, particularly when they are not part of a chain of academies?
Shaun Dowling: One of the interesting things that we have learned from our experience thus far is about the integration of independent schools and academies. We are quite unique in our academy group, in that we have independent schools and academies and the integration of them working together. There is a huge appetite among our schools to work cross-sector. We would be very interested to feed back to the group in a few more weeks when we have seen more of those schools and heard at first hand what they are doing-to report back further on that-because it is a really interesting area of development that’s emerging.
Q69 Chair: How has that come about? In terms of lessons for other schools, is a certain approach required? What could the head teacher of a maintained school viewing this on Parliament TV learn from your experience? Whom do they need to pick up the phone to and what do they need to say?
Shaun Dowling: The second part of that is a very interesting question. We have found a real openness among our independent schools to work collaboratively with our academies and vice versa, so there is a real will on the ground that we are about improving the physical education and school sport opportunities for all young people. Certainly within United Learning, we want every young person to have an outstanding experience in PE and school sport, no matter which of our institutions they attend. In terms of that element of open doors and of working together-collaboratively-on projects, an example would be the Regis school, which is a water sports hub. One of its first points of contact was with Surbiton high school, which already had an established strength in rowing. They are working together with other academies and other independent schools in the group to develop water sports collaboratively-together-for the benefit of all the young people.
Q70 Bill Esterson: So it can only happen where there are academies in place-where they already have these arrangements. What happens where-
Shaun Dowling: No, not at all. We are fortunate in the sense that United Learning has invested in this role further to develop that work and to make that happen across the country within our group, but I am sure other academy groups will be doing similar work or other groups of schools, similarly, will be working with their independent colleagues.
Q71 Neil Carmichael: Good morning. I thought we should move on to the primary sport premium, as some money is actually being spent. Do you think the Government were right to focus all this effort on the primary school heads, given what you have just been talking about in terms of the importance of heads?
Shaun Dowling: It is absolutely right to put the focus on primary-phase physical education; that is absolutely the right thing to do. As has been mentioned already, the support for those head teachers to make the right-wise-investment with that money is absolutely critical if we want there to be a sustainable, enduring legacy in teacher quality and teacher confidence and therefore impact on pupil progress. It is definitely the right area. We are delighted that the money is there. We are completely delighted that it has been ring-fenced. The accountability through Ofsted as well is a real boost.
Q72 Chair: Does anyone disagree with any of that? Should it have gone to the heads to spend, and shouldn’t have been ring-fenced? Should it have been put somewhere else, secondary to support primary, or into a network function away from the primaries? Does anyone disagree?
Derek Peaple: I think that partnership working between primary and secondary will come out of this arrangement, and certainly where there are those established and long-term relationships with the trust. Certainly within Berkshire, we have held briefings and we are getting a reflection of a 90% to 95% buy-in to effectively a series of service level agreements, but creating and providing the autonomy for primary head teachers. It is no good putting on all this brilliant continuing professional development if they do not have the resource then to be able to release their teachers to attend that. That is absolutely critical from the point of view of sustainability and the development of the primary work force, as has been indicated. I think it is absolutely the right thing to do in that respect.
Richard Saunders: I think it is the right age group and our colleagues will make sure that that works appropriately, but I also think it has to sit within the total continuum that starts before school, so there needs to be a vision about what is happening with our very young children before they get into school and then what happens as they go out. People should be able to articulate that. It might look slightly different in different areas, but that continuum is very important. The helicopter view there is one that the CSPs can offer, to put that continuum together.
The other continuum that is as important is the continuum out of school into the community, which is a key part of what we have been talking about. It is about the clubs reaching into schools with coaches who will be able to work with the right level of quality and standards to meet the needs of the premium. My view, and the view of the CSPs, is that all of it needs to be child-focused and young people-focused. There then needs to be a broader holistic approach to make the good bits really work well.
Q73 Neil Carmichael: You have raised two points, Derek, regarding almost vertical integration with secondary schools, and so on. There is a mechanism for that, so one would hope that this money will be spent with that in mind to a large extent. A continuum theme is obviously something that applies to literacy, mathematics and everything else, so it is something we would want to encourage across the piece. Does everyone agree with that?
Linda Cairns: I don’t entirely agree. I sit here representing a secondary school, and my view of our secondary school and a lot of other schools like it is that in a secondary the PE department is delivering core PE, academic PE to A-level and GCSE, and fixtures. PE departments do not have very much capacity, without the support of the school sports co-ordinator, to deliver a lot extra-all the additional participation sport and all the other things. Hopefully, there are going to be a lot of primary kids coming up after this investment keen to carry on the participation sports that they have been doing, and there could be a big shortfall to take them forward when they get to secondary.
Q74 Neil Carmichael: The secondary schools will have to recognise that and recalibrate if appropriate, because they have more autonomy to do so.
Linda Cairns: They have, but ultimately they are judged on their league table standings and their Ofsted performance; they are not judged on all the extra-curricular sport they deliver. So, academically high-achieving schools will have to make a judgment. The head of my school is very supportive of PE, and we have taken a lot of initiatives to do extra-curricular PE, but it is always a juggle and it is always a balance.
Q75 Neil Carmichael: To return to the primary sector, what about the advice for heads, especially from independent sources? Does anyone have a comment on that? Of course, not all heads know everything about sport, so they are going to need some advice. Where is it going to come from?
Richard Saunders: I think, again, the county sport partnerships are ideally placed to have a view on how the advice in each of the areas can be deployed. The answer to the question of what the advice will be is this: do not jump too soon in terms of what you expect the funding to do and how you are going to access it, because it will not be available until the autumn. Again, it goes down to a local view that needs to support those primary teachers, but the Youth Sport Trust, Sport England and national organisations need to get their act together to be able to give some policy and principle guidelines that can then be deployed locally, and the CSPs can do that.
Shaun Dowling: I think that has already happened. The Youth Sport Trust has contacted every primary school with sound, sensible advice about longevity and sustainable use of that money. I know that has happened on the ground.
Derek Peaple: If I may give a local example of that, we had communication between our county sport partnership-Get Berkshire Active-the Youth Sport Trust’s regional representative and myself as the chair of the local organising committee. We held a county-level briefing with an invitation to all primary heads and their representatives, which we followed up with Berkshire’s unitary authority. So there were briefings within west Berkshire, Slough, Reading and so on. From that dialogue we are bespoking a local menu of support for those primary schools based on the feedback, which has worked effectively in bringing together the key stakeholders.
Q76 Mr Ward: Neil, may I quickly bring in the shelving of the reporting target at the same time as we have additional resources going in? Linda, you mentioned earlier that, in effect, what doesn’t get measured sometimes doesn’t get done. What is the likely impact of the removal of that target?
Linda Cairns: Are you referring back to the old partnership participation target?
Mr Ward: The requirement on schools to ensure that they are Ofsted-able has been removed.
Linda Cairns: I think there are a couple of issues here. Ofsted, of course, works on a much longer cycle than the two-year funding we are talking about. Some schools go five years between Ofsted inspections, some of which is a worry. My colleague who was on the first panel referred to the quality being more important than the quantity, which I would support. I would also add that I am very pleased that this funding is going into primaries, because that is where it is needed. At secondary, we have seen children coming up who have not had the good grounding that they are now going to get. For me, no amount of Sportivate funding to try to get them interested when they are 14 is going to compensate for them not having got interested at primary, so I am totally behind it.
Q77 Neil Carmichael: Are there any risks or opportunities with the scheme?
Chair: Primary sport?
Neil Carmichael: Yes.
Shaun Dowling: It would be even better if we were able to secure that funding over a longer period of time. While we are pleased and delighted it is there, it could be that in two years it is a sticking plaster or a "fill the gaps" kind of model. What we really want is that investment in initial teacher training and in primary schools-staff development that really needs to be more sustainable than two years. When our chief executive meets with our academies, they talk about a five-year plan.
Q78 Chair: It is a question that you might throw back at us; we are the politicians. Why is it that Governments do not put things in place for sport for the long term? Why do they keep doing things over a short period? The school sport partnerships might have been ended by this Government, but they had not been set in place to be permanent. There seems to be some sort of refusal to say, "We need sport; we need it for the long term. There is the amount of money we think we can afford. Get on with it." Any idea? Why is it that sport is the sort of thing that, when you get some political pressure, you find some cash and throw it at it but never promise a lot?
Richard Saunders: It may be that in the last few years, and before the Olympics, the agenda was too narrow, and it was around sport and schools. Now the agenda is much broader because we bring in the health issues, and we know that sport can contribute in all sorts of way to sustainable communities, economic growth and so on. That is a shift that sport would like to put back to politicians, to say it is now time to see it as a much broader agenda.
Q79 Chair: We have not heard that particularly strongly from you today. I would have thought that if I was in the sector, I would want to be saying, "You wanted to do the Olympics. You threw some money at it. Then we ran a bit short and then it got embarrassing because it looked like it was all falling apart, so you found some more. What it needs is long-term sustained investment-probably at a level that we think is too little and you think is too much. At least put something stable in place that means everything can work over time and they know where they stand. Do not use sport as a political football for the pressures of the moment."
Richard Saunders: Absolutely. And also, in my view and in that of the CSPs, look at it as a continuum; don’t just look at segments. Even though I totally understand that we are here today to look at school sport, by just putting school sport in a box, which we did in the past with school sport partnerships, and then having something over here called community sport-that is the way the landscape was described three or four years ago-we have created an artificial and unhelpful split between the two. Whereas, as Mike Diaper said, if we focus on children and young people and we bring additional local resources to help schools, that is where we will multiply the legacy.
Q80 Chair: Are you all in broad agreement on that?
Linda Cairns: Yes.
Q81 Neil Carmichael: Following on from that, apart from the obvious answer about resources, how can we embed sport in primary schools and therefore secondary schools? We are talking about something that could end in 2014. The SSPs did end, and so on. Instead of worrying too much about what has begun and what has ended, we should focus on how we do that embedding process.
Shaun Dowling: Do you mean physical education?
Neil Carmichael: Yes.
Shaun Dowling: In terms of physical education, the point that was made earlier was about having specialist PE teachers in primary schools. To get to that 16,000 figure is a very long road. Certainly, for all primary schools to have access to a specialist PE teacher who is primary trained in a physical education specialism would be a progressive step towards that ultimate ambition.
Q82 Chair: How long would it take us to get there?
Shaun Dowling: That could be achieved relatively quickly.
Q83 Chair: By 2015?
Shaun Dowling: Yes, you can make progress towards that by 2015 or 2016.
Q84 Siobhain McDonagh: Is it right to have competition at the centre of school sports policy?
Linda Cairns: May I answer that? I would say competition is a key part, but if we put too much focus on competition, we are missing out on delivering sport, PE and physical activity to the large majority of our children and students. When you offer more and more competition, you are offering it to the same select, top, able athletes, so you have the same players in your hockey team, football team, rugby team and athletics. They are the ones who come forward and the majority that you want to get active are not engaging. I am glad to see the primary emphasis is on participation, and I think we should take that forward.
Derek Peaple: I would agree with that. Clearly, once it is grounded, it does galvanise and focus attention, but it is about that physical literacy that was referred to earlier. It is about participation, because you have to give young people the opportunity to sample a range of sports before they necessarily decide on a competitive or indeed a recreational pathway through competition. It is also about that wider educational improvement agenda. For example, in the context of school competition in the School Games, we got fantastic buy-in from our primary and secondary schools, because we were developing our young leaders. We had a residential academy for them. They were filming a documentary of the games, which matched their GCSE coursework. We were developing cross-curricular competitions in the primary schools to design a mascot to perform at the opening ceremony. So it is one strand in inspiring a generation around physical activity and sport.
Richard Saunders: It shines a light very clearly on what is going on locally and it allows that to be physical. It is important, because it does that, and we know we have to get at levels 1 and 2 where it gets a lot more young people involved. It was described by a head the other day as a skeleton that we should hang other issues on, which I think is a part of what Derek was saying. You’ve got it; it’s physical. The rest of the world understand it, so the media understand it and you can take advantage then. Again, it is locally determined in the sense that bits of the jigsaw come together in different ways, but you use that to focus other work and resources, and you bring health into it and work with volunteers. It is a fantastic tool and it needs to be broadened.
Shaun Dowling: Our ethos at United Learning is to bring out the best in everyone. Although we believe that every young person who wants to have a competitive opportunity in sport should have that access and should be able to do so, we do not believe that competitive sport only is the best route to the best in everyone. Helping to promote physical activity and physical exercise, whatever shape that forms for that young person, and whatever engages them into a lifelong participation route, has to be the best way forward. So it is a crucial tool, a really important tool, but it is only one of the strands from which we work in physical education and school sport.
Q85 Siobhain McDonagh: At what age should focus on competitive sports begin? Is it appropriate to have competitive sport in primary school?
Linda Cairns: Yes, I think it is. Children are naturally competitive and I think it is false to try and organise sport without having any competition.
Q86 Chair: At all ages?
Richard Saunders: I would agree totally.
Chair: If we all agree, we will move on. We have very little time.
Q87 Siobhain McDonagh: Linda, would you tell us about your concerns that many young people will disengage with sport on the transition to secondary school? Is school sports policy sufficiently joined up across the key stages? What approaches can you suggest to overcome the problem?
Linda Cairns: I don’t think it is joined up now. I think it was joined up. I think there will be insufficient capacity at secondary schools to meet the demand that hopefully will be generated as a result of this successful primary initiative. Secondary schools simply do not have enough capacity to deliver sport to all their students. There is no incentive for teachers outside of PE departments to deliver sports clubs. In my school, there are not enough people, not enough facilities, not enough rooms and not enough fields, so it is a challenge. We can do more; we just do not have enough teachers.
Q88 Siobhain McDonagh: Shaun, are there any lessons on competitive sport that the independent schools in the ULT chain can teach the academies, or vice versa?
Shaun Dowling: I think it is very much a two-way process. You are quite right there. I have been in post six weeks at the moment, and I have got more visits planned over the next two weeks. I will have seen over 50% of our schools by then, so I would welcome the opportunity to feed back into the inquiry when I have even more evidence for you. I think there are lessons to be learnt both ways and there is an emerging picture, but I would like to gather more evidence.
Q89 Siobhain McDonagh: To what extent can state schools benefit from using the facilities, equipment and grounds available at private schools to offer wider opportunities to their pupils, including the élite and the general school population?
Chair: Shaun has kind of answered that already. Does anyone else have any thoughts on it?
Derek Peaple: We have used two other independent partners to host our School Games because of the quality of facility. We have independent school representation on our local organising committee and work very closely with them, and similarly to what Shaun said, with the Youth Sport Trust, work is currently being undertaken locally to look at how that mutual working together can be of benefit to those sectors. But it has essentially been, for us, about facilities used at some point, with a degree of engagement from the independent sector in the games.
Q90 Alex Cunningham: A final question to Linda. You have done a grand job of selling the role of the school sports co-ordinator, and the Chair has asked that we have very clear recommendations going forward. Is the demise of the school sports co-ordinator one of the major things that has taken the glue away from the whole system?
Linda Cairns: I think that linking role has. I am not saying that I would necessarily advocate bringing back the partnerships. If something has gone and we are looking forward, we have to move on, but the key linking role-somebody who can link primaries to secondaries and all schools to clubs and community sport-is lacking. That needs to be mended. The county sports partnerships are doing their best, but they do not have the buy-in from schools. I do not think in my area that they have the communication channels that the school sports co-ordinators had.
Q91 Mr Ward: May I ask Richard some legacy questions? You have done various sports programmes in London, but you were also in Oldham some time ago. Do you think, in Oldham, that the impact of the Olympics will be the same as in London and the south-east?
Richard Saunders: Yes, I do. People were inspired all over the country for all sorts of reasons, and Oldham is a good example. In Oldham, when the funding disappeared, the authority came together. I think early on you mentioned community sports networks, which is broadly a notion of the right people in each local authority area, at that strategic level, coming together to find a solution. Oldham has done that, bringing together resources to keep the network. It is not the old school sport partnership per se, but it is the network that allows people to communicate and for us to link together. I think they will be totally inspired and they have worked well, in Oldham in particular.
Q92 Mr Ward: Shaun, in your survey you touched on the general agreement that the Olympic legacy exists in terms of an increase in competitive sports.
Shaun Dowling: Absolutely. We have just recruited six sport ambassadors to keep that momentum going across the group-but when you say competitive sport, one of them is a mountaineer, for example, one is from synchronised swimming, and one a world champion in bobsleigh. It is from across the range of physical activity that we want to promote to our young people. They are not just competitive sports people. We have seen increases in sporting uptake across our group of schools on the back of the Olympics. Interestingly, a couple of schools have also said that they did so much work building up to the Olympics that you are not going to see a massive post-Olympic spike, because the work was already in progress leading up to it. It was a really interesting conversation with schools on that.
Q93 Mr Ward: The School Games were referred to in the first session. Do you think that was an effective way of delivering the legacy, and what are your reflections on the fact that the funding is for a limited time?
Chair: Would any of you not have spent the money on the School Games? Would you rather have done something else instead, or are you all enthusiastic?
Linda Cairns: For me, I would say that the School Games are, to some extent, a rebranding of stuff that the local sports associations were already organising-their fixtures. To another extent, it is an offer of sports that are outside our normal delivery that we are just not able to take advantage of. So I would have to say no. In fact, my school came second in the first year of the Surrey School Games and we had not knowingly entered anything or done anything.
Shaun Dowling: May I add to that by talking about the three differences I would pick out about the School Games to what may have existed beforehand? One is the emphasis on leadership, coaching and volunteering with young people. I know that our schools have engaged completely in that. It is about broadening out that work force that the schools have to call in. The second is around disability sport, which has been given a significant boost through the School Games and the work there. There are also the benefits of the link of school sport to the wider curriculum. Derek alluded earlier to media teams and the work that has gone on through the School Games in other curriculum areas. Those three things are key distinctions that were not in existence before. They should be applauded.
Q94 Chair: Are you all in agreement on that?
All Witnesses: Yes.
Q95 Chair: So the message to politicians and whoever is in government and is in charge-things change fast here-is that the School Games have real capacity to deliver not only competitive sports but things on a broader basis, and you are all enthusiastic about the potential.
Linda Cairns: Certainly the disability side of it has been very good.
Derek Peaple: May I add to Shaun’s points, which were reflected in Berkshire. There is also the opportunity it gives as a focal point to bring together school and community sport and begin to focus those pathways through into club activity. It has heightened that potential link.
Chair: Brilliant. Thank you all very much for giving evidence to us today. With four of you it is quite hard, but we have covered a lot of ground thanks to the quality of your answers. If you have any further thoughts, particularly in terms of recommendations to the Committee that you do not think you put over today, feel free to write to us.
Examination of Witnesses
Witnesses: Jonathan Edwards CBE, TV presenter, world record holder and former Olympic Gold medallist, Lynne Hutchison, Team GB, gymnast, Daniel Keatings, Team GB, gymnast, and Rachel Smith, Team GB, gymnast, gave evidence.
Chair: Good morning. Welcome to this session of the Education Committee.
Mr Ward: May I just say that some of us have to be in the Chamber at 11.30, so don’t take it personally if a couple of us disappear.
Q96 Chair: It is a great pleasure to have élite athletes with us today; some are more recently élite than others, but they are people of great talent in any case. Thank you very much for coming. We have a jumper and gymnasts. How important was the PE teacher in your life? People say that everyone remembers their best teacher. In your case, did a teacher play a part in setting you out on a path to élite sporting activity?
Daniel Keatings: When I was in school, gymnastics was obviously not a high-profile sport and we did not have the necessary equipment in the school to get most of the qualities of gymnastics. I had to go after school to a gymnastics club to gain the experience and great coaching to move forward.
Q97 Chair: So it was the club outside that was the big trigger for you. What about you, Lynne?
Lynne Hutchison: I started rhythmic quite young, in year 1. My coach came in for a workshop. That’s where she invited me to a club outside; otherwise I wouldn’t have known about rhythmic.
Q98 Chair: That’s been quite a theme today, this trying to get the co-ordination between clubs and schools. Schools can sometimes be quite stand-alone in trying to get that co-ordination and mutual understanding between the club and the school. It is an important part of introducing people to it. It obviously worked for you, Lynne. What about you, Rachel?
Rachel Smith: I was a rare case. We had a rhythmic gymnastics club in my school, which not many schools have. It was a good starting point, and I was then recommended to an outside club. People within my school liked to know about the sport. It’s not a very well known sport and it was so rare to have it in primary school. I started at primary school, so it had a big impact on me.
Q99 Chair: Great. What about you, Jonathan?
Jonathan Edwards: School sport was instrumental in me becoming an athlete. I was privately educated and sport was a huge part of the curriculum, probably as important as the academic side of things. I got to do gymnastics and did the BAGA awards, but I was terrible. The school had the three As award scheme where you tried all the different athletics events, and that is how I found out I was good at the triple jump. I wouldn’t be sitting here if it weren’t for school sport. It’s as simple as that.
Chair: Some of you will have heard, and Jonathan was here throughout, that the Committee is a group of cross-party MPs-Labour, Liberal Democrat and Conservative. Our job is to hold the Department for Education to account, to scrutinise what it does and to make proposals. We typically do that by holding an inquiry like this and then writing a report on the subject and making recommendations to the Government to make sure they protect the good things we have now, and make proposals for changes for the future. If from your personal experience there are things you think are important and should be protected or changed, please feel free to communicate that to us today.
Without further ado, I go to Craig.
Q100 Craig Whittaker: Good morning. I know that you have all said that you got involved in clubs outside, but I want to drill down a bit about how you were spotted, whether it was through a teacher in school, and at what age. Was it you, Rachel, or Lynne who was nine?
Lynne Hutchison: I was six.
Rachel Smith: I was also six.
Daniel Keatings: I was five.
Jonathan Edwards: I was a late starter. It was not through the club system; it was entirely at English schools. Only when I went to university did I get involved with clubs. It was entirely through school.
Q101 Craig Whittaker: Was it a teacher at school who spotted you and pushed you to go outside where the facilities were; or was it, as we have heard, someone coming into the school through a workshop?
Rachel Smith: The coach who was teaching classes at my school was a gymnast at a local club, and she spotted some sort of talent and sent me over because I needed more training, and the training in the primary school wasn’t enough to progress on talent. It was just recreational and after school. She thought there was something special, so she moved me on to someone she knew.
Lynne Hutchison: In primary school we had a sports week once a year when people from all different sports came in from outside school, and one of them was from rhythmic gymnastics. I got spotted through that.
Daniel Keatings: Obviously, I was really young and it was through my parents. They wanted me to get involved in sports and thought gymnastics was a great start as it provides the attributes to go into many different sports because of balance, conditioning and so on.
Q102 Craig Whittaker: Is competition from an early age in school good or bad?
Jonathan Edwards: I think it depends on the culture of the school and how that then becomes a basis for acceptance or otherwise. I can think back to the bad old days of the private school system when it was very élitist and if you were good at sport you were part of the in crowd, and if you weren’t you were perhaps less so. Then there was a swing against that and competitive sport went out of fashion. I think you need both. You need an all-inclusive environment where you can take part and enjoy it, and you need opportunities for those who are good to pursue it competitively. It is not either/or; it is about an overall culture, how you approach competitive sport, and where it fits into the entire picture of sport and physical education provision.
Q103 Craig Whittaker: Does anyone have a different view?
Rachel Smith: I agree with that. When I was at primary school we had sports days when you were given the opportunity to compete against other people, and then the school would ask you if you wanted to do bigger competitions outside school, so they gave you the chance to be more competitive or, if it was just for fun, more recreational. There was always the chance to do both.
Q104 Craig Whittaker: At a young age you went to clubs outside and someone spotted something in you. At what age did you decide that you wanted to pursue your sport to the level you have?
Daniel Keatings: Obviously, through school I tried loads of different sports-football, rugby, athletics-and when I was 11 my coach realised that I had something special so he sent me to an international competition where I did pretty well, so from that age I wanted to concentrate on gymnastics alone.
Q105 Craig Whittaker: What about you, Jonathan?
Jonathan Edwards: I was very old. I didn’t start doing it seriously until I was 21. When I was 18, I went to university. The sport wasn’t professional when I was young; there was no lottery funding, so it was a very different landscape. I had to hedge my bets and get a decent education before I decided to have a go at being a full-time athlete.
Q106 Craig Whittaker: What about you two ladies?
Lynne Hutchison: For me, my first national competition was when I was eight. From pretty much then, perhaps a couple of years after that, just rhythmic gymnastics.
Q107 Chair: Was there a tension between pursuing your sport and doing your school work? Or did you feel that being a success in sport, feeling like you were getting something and doing well gave you confidence and improved your academic work?
Lynne Hutchison: I wouldn’t say it improved my academic work, but I’ve been careful to keep up both. Since I was in primary school, I’ve had to miss school to go on camps and stuff, which got me into a habit of balancing. I did that from when I was young instead of going into it in secondary school when the workload was more.
Rachel Smith: It’s the same with me. If the teachers knew you had talent, they were always so supportive. They would send you extra work when you were at training camps so it was really easy to keep up. My teachers were so supportive of me that it was easy to keep up with the work and train at the same time.
Jonathan Edwards: The big issue is not so much about the competitive pathways. If young people are good enough and want to do well, there are the opportunities out there, whether they are at school or in clubs. The big issue would be finding out whether you’re good at anything and having a broader provision. We’ve talked about physical education, physical literacy and a "sport for all" approach. I don’t know how many young people miss out on finding out what they’re good at and what they enjoy because they just don’t get the opportunity. There are some damning statistics about the medal success of Team GB. It’s less the case now, but how much of that comes from the privately educated system as opposed to the state system? It’s simply about getting a chance to find out what they’re good at and the opportunity to pursue it.
Q108 Bill Esterson: What’s the answer to that? How do you create those opportunities?
Jonathan Edwards: I think it comes back to how much you value sport. You touched on this political football idea, Graham. There is a real irony, in that the modern Olympic movement started because Pierre de Coubertin came over to this country to look at the education system and how it integrated sport-a healthy mind in a healthy body. Here we are, having just celebrated London 2012, and we still face this question about where sport fits in and how important it is. We have seen the dismantling of the school sport partnerships, which was a bad move in my opinion, wasn’t well thought through and left many people feeling incredulous. I would say that the people I’ve heard on this panel so far have perhaps been minding their Ps and Qs a little bit. I think it was a very bad decision. A lot of people would say that.
Q109 Chair: The denunciation from the earlier panels has not been as strong as yours.
Jonathan Edwards: Indeed. Obviously, they are sitting in front of you and they’re being recorded. They come from organisations and so perhaps have more to lose. I can just sit here independently. I don’t want to rattle on here, but perhaps one of the issues is about measurement; we do live in a world where everything is measured. There is less measurement of PE outcomes, sport outcomes and health outcomes than there is of maths, English and French-the academic side of things. Perhaps what’s at the heart of this is how much we as a society value sport and physical education.
Q110 Chair: Yes. But there is also this tension between participation, quality and excellence. When you go to a gym club as a parent-I have a daughter who goes to a gym club-you see the attentive volunteer coaches and the rest of it and the fantastic time they put in, but you don’t know whether they are the kind of people who can take the child to the top level. So again, there is that balance between having a club that does a good job and everyone enjoys going there, and another club that takes the same child and, instead of just allowing them to enjoy gym, lets them get up to the level that you got up to.
Do you have any thoughts on how we improve quality, as well? It strikes me that, in this whole picture, we want people to participate but we also have to get the aspiration in place-and not just in the young people. Jonathan, you’ve suggested that if you have it in you and you like it, you will probably get there; but my personal experience is of lots of people I thought had the talent but never got the encouragement to change their aspiration, so they never thought they could get to the top. Sometimes, when I looked at them, I thought, "I think you probably could," but no one ever told them.
Jonathan Edwards: Clearly, in primary school, I don’t think a lot of training goes into the physical education and sports side of things. Certainly, the school premium can address that, and I think there is also a pilot study within some teacher training colleges to look at improving that. But yes, the quality of the teaching that you get within school without doubt makes a difference. You’ve touched on the school sport and club links, and they are also very important. Schools shouldn’t be expected to take gymnasts to Olympic level, but there will be a link where they can find expertise.
Q111 Chair: So that’s down to the national governing bodies, to have the right coaching and training quality marks.
Jonathan Edwards: Indeed.
Q112 Mr Ward: It comes down to the whole issue of the role of being healthy, going back to the original Olympics, as you said. Is the difference really that with maths or English we can say to people, "It will be good for you to know these things," whereas there is a bit of a reluctance to tell people, "Being healthy will be good for you," and directing or lecturing them along those lines? Is that maybe why we have this constant battle in the education system about the importance of it?
Jonathan Edwards: I wouldn’t just say that the education system would say it’s good for you to learn maths and English; it’s also about the benefit to this country, isn’t it? You’re going to train up the next generation who are going to be in the workplace, generate income and so on and so forth. Clearly, health outcomes are very bad and cost this country a huge amount of money, so it is common sense to take care of it as soon as possible.
Q113 Mr Ward: Isn’t it my personal business to be saying that, not the state’s?
Jonathan Edwards: It costs the state a lot of money; you might think the state has a role in that. Also, people’s lives are better. All of us sat here will live healthy and active lives for as long as we live-
Mr Ward: Unless you get injured.
Jonathan Edwards: We know the benefits of feeling-
Chair: Because you don’t look where you’re going.
Jonathan Edwards: Well, indeed.
Q114 Craig Whittaker: May I take you back to the issue of talent slipping through the net? You could apply the same principle to anything, whether it is sport, maths or English. On this panel, we hear all the time that the biggest issue for us as a country is that middle section that just achieve and can’t go on. On that principle, Jonathan, you have said that there was a huge ethos of sport in your private school, but what about comprehensive schools? Are you where you are because you’re self-motivated and you were going to do it anyway, whether you went to a private school or not; or was it sport at primary school, or at a young age, that turned you in that direction?
Rachel Smith: Initially, I wouldn’t have known about it if the primary school hadn’t had it, but then I think sport changed my attitude, to give me that drive to succeed and to try to train and work harder to improve myself. But if it hadn’t been for school sports, it wouldn’t have happened. Our sport is not well known and it’s difficult for people to get into it. I was really lucky with how it happened and I’m very grateful that the school had it for me, but I know a lot of people won’t get the opportunity to do it because it’s so specialist and you need the coaches to do it. A lot of people don’t know about it and a lot of children don’t get the chance to try it out.
Q115 Craig Whittaker: Would you have excelled in something else?
Rachel Smith: I have no idea.
Lynne Hutchison: For me, it is the same as for Rachel: if it wasn’t for that sports week, I would not have started rhythmic gymnastics. From reception, I was doing ballet outside school, and I started swimming soon after, so before I really started rhythmic gymnastics I was doing lots of sport. In primary school I was quite an all-rounder, so I probably could have gone into another sport. But, definitely, if I had not been at school on that day, I might have never started rhythmic gymnastics.
Q116 Bill Esterson: Do we need a system for talent spotting people who are naturally good at sport and then to try to find a way to get them into sport? I do not want to go down the East German model where they measured kids at a very early age to decide who would make it and who would not, but is there some kind of process?
Jonathan Edwards: That is school sport, isn’t it? Every child does not go to a gymnastics club or an athletics club, but every child goes to school. It is not so much about talent spotting as allowing them to find their potential. In response to your point, it is not just sport, but academic achievement, the arts and music-that is what education is about: the widest possible opportunities to find out what resonates with you.
Q117 Chair: Lynne and Rachel, you have obviously gone on to a high level, but as young women, girls, from the beginning of secondary school onwards, particularly in their teenage years, often tend to drop out of sport, certainly competitive sport. From your personal experience and that of your friends, do you have any thoughts on what could be changed to make it less likely that girls would drop out of sport during secondary school?
Lynne Hutchison: Maybe more options. At my school, when you get to year 10 you get the option of doing a couple of different sports, but at first either you must do hockey or you must play netball in this season. As I came from a primary school where we had not done hockey before, it was quite brutal when girls who already knew how to play hockey were whacking the sticks around.
Q118 Chair: So is your recommendation that there should be more options that do not involve competitive sport?
Lynne Hutchison: I hadn’t participated much in sport at secondary school because of the gymnastics, but I think that because my primary school did a bit of everything whereas people at other schools had focused on hockey, when they came to secondary school they were really good at hockey and felt really comfortable, whereas I found it a bit off-putting as I had never done it before.
Q119 Chair: Any reflections, Rachel?
Rachel Smith: I am quite a confident person, so when we tried new sports I loved it because I love anything, but I know a couple of girls who were reserved, mainly because of their personal image and not liking the idea of working up a sweat and their make-up coming off. It sounds silly, I know, but when you got to year 10 or year 11, a lot of girls would not participate because they did not want to exercise.
Q120 Chair: Are there any practical ways to minimise that, or is that just the way it is?
Jonathan Edwards: They should use light make-up.
Chair: Advances in cosmetics; okay.
Q121 Alex Cunningham: Jonathan, I was going to ask you some specific questions on your views on school sport partnerships, but you have covered some of that already. But from what you have heard today and what you know of the new regime for school sports, are there still gaps or are you now satisfied that they are starting to get their act together?
Jonathan Edwards: I am not an expert on provision of sport in schools like the earlier panels. I would echo some of the concerns stated before on the lack of guidance and clarity and the lack of a network to co-ordinate it. While there may have been a patchy provision across school sport partnerships, I think that generally they did a fantastic job and the stats will show that; when Sue Campbell is here next week, I am sure that she will elaborate on that. I think that there is a greater chance of patchy provision with this sports premium going out individually to schools.
Q122 Alex Cunningham: What would be your recommendation to the schools about how they should use their money? We heard earlier about sports co-ordinators and the role that they play.
Jonathan Edwards: You get economies of scale. If schools join together, they can provide something a little more strategic and get better value for money. In some areas, I think that will happen, but in other areas less so. Again, it will depend on what the framework is for spending the money.
Q123 Alex Cunningham: To you all and not just to Jonathan: the 2012 Games were meant to inspire a generation. Even I blew up the tyres on my bike and actually got on it once. Do you really think that a generation has been inspired by 2012, and will it continue to happen?
Rachel Smith: I have heard of children in primary schools thinking- especially about the ribbons, because that is basically what people think of first for gymnasts-"Oh, I want to run around with the ribbon," but I don’t think they have had the opportunity to try it. People know more about it, but it needs support from a governing body to push going into primary schools. I know that for the more popular sports like football, there is always that opportunity.
Again, it comes back to a child actually having the chance to try that out. For our sport, that is important, because no one really knows about it. It needs help from a governing body to send us or other coaches into schools to give taster sessions. That is how Lynne got into it. It is really important. She has gone to the Olympics. You don’t know if there are any other kids out there who could do the same.
Daniel Keatings: Especially with gymnastics, because we came out of nowhere and got a medal in the Olympics as a team, we have had a massive increase in interest. At my club alone, we have had to increase the waiting list to a couple of years and get a huge building built next door to try to fit all the people in who want to do it. There has definitely been a huge legacy left.
Q124 Chair: Money follows success in Olympic sports, doesn’t it? So there will be more money coming to the governing body to help expand following your remarkable success. Is that right?
Daniel Keatings: Yes, definitely. We have even had people who retired coming back as well, because they have seen the success that we have had in the sport and want to come and do it again, to try to get that success for themselves.
Jonathan Edwards: Legacy Trust UK have just done some research, which I think you could probably get from them, that talked about the inspiration of the Games. Coming back to national governing bodies, yes, they are there, but a national governing body cannot be everywhere in every school. It starts at the school, and then those connections to the expertise of national governing bodies, clubs and associations have to be right. I don’t think it can work the other way around. A governing body just does not have enough people and resources to be everywhere.
Q125 Alex Cunningham: Lynne, can you see a specific schools sports legacy? There is a legacy of lots of people participating, joining clubs and so on, but can you see some legacy specific to schools developing?
Lynne Hutchison: Yes, I think more people want to do sport in school. The Olympic mottoes and things have stuck through the games, and they are still there now. Also, I think quite a lot of team feeling after the Olympics has stuck as well.
Q126 Alex Cunningham: Lynne, you talked about the role of élite sportsmen and women going into schools and getting involved. Is there more that élite sportspeople can do to inspire the next generation? Look at the six-year-olds. You started at six.
Lynne Hutchison: Yes, I think so. Before the Games, we were going into schools to do visits, presentations and things like that. The children were really excited to see us, the ribbons and the hoops, so I think that really helped them. I have seen some faces at the club that I saw at the school, so there have definitely been more people participating.
For us, the problem is that we are in Bath, which is a good base for rhythmic gymnastics. There is a club there and it goes to schools around Bath. But that is not the case in a lot of major cities like-near to us-Bristol. We have some girls who come to the club from Bristol, but it is still quite a way to travel. There are no rhythmic gymnastics clubs there and there are no rhythmic gymnastics clubs in other big cities around the country.
Q127 Alex Cunningham: Jonathan, in the work that you do now-I know that you have quite a varied role-you have come into contact with sportspeople across such a huge range of sports; I know your specialism, of course. What is your evidence of them getting involved in schools? What are they actually doing to say, "This is great. I did it this way. Just come and have some fun"?
Jonathan Edwards: I think the majority of élite athletes take that responsibility to inspire young people very, very seriously. Certainly the whole emphasis through London 2012 was about that inspiration. If you had Olympians and Paralympians from the last 15 to 20 years in here, they would all tell stories of going into schools, taking their medals in and showing their videos. It is something that definitely is happening, but again it’s a numbers game, isn’t it? There are only so many days, so many Olympians and so many schools you can get into, but yes, it definitely does happen.
I also think-these guys will tell me better-it is part of UK sport. You do have to do some appearances, don’t you? Some of those are perhaps done-
Daniel Keatings: We are contracted to do a few appearances a year under UK Sport. That involves going into schools to speak to children and things like that.
Q128 Alex Cunningham: What more should the Government be doing to ensure that the legacy that we all got so excited about actually materialises? School sport partnerships perhaps?
Chair: In a sense, you have been answering that the whole time, but do you have any further thoughts on that? We are also looking for recommendations we can stick in our report, so we ask you to come in and do our job for us.
Rachel Smith: I think the reason the Olympics gave such a buzz-I know the media plays a big part. A lot of people had the opportunity to watch it on television. I think that through promotion, through media, is the best way of getting people to know about sport and keeping people involved and engaged and excited by it.
Alex Cunningham: Because you end up watching sports that you never otherwise see, except every four years.
Q129 Chair: Do you just think we need better broadcasters? Is that-[Laughter.] Do you think some of these presenters are not all they should be?
Rachel Smith: No, for me-when people say, "Oh, you went to the Olympics. What did you do?" and I say, "Rhythmic gymnastics," they say, "Oh yeah, I watched that on the television, but I’ve never seen it on the TV before. It’s never really been on before, apart from the Olympics."
Chair: The first time I saw it was-
Rachel Smith: Exactly. People don’t really get to see it. We are kind of a background sport, because no one really knows what it is.
Q130 Alex Cunningham: But it was used very much as an image of the Olympics, wasn’t it? It was used in all the publicity material.
Rachel Smith: Yes, everyone knows what the ribbon is, and people think we just dance around with ribbons, which is fine, but no one really knows-if more people understood-
Jonathan Edwards: The chances, then, of that turning into an involvement are patchy, to say the least. It does seem that too much is potentially left to chance in the system as it exists at the moment. I’ve always had this bee in my bonnet that because it’s the world we live in, if you measure something, you are going to get the right results. You talk about a headmaster or headmistress who either likes sport or doesn’t like sport. Well, do you have to put them in the position where they haven’t really got any choice? If the maths was down the tube or the English was down the tube, they would have to do something about it. I don’t think it’s that way with sport-physical education.
Q131 Chair: The primary sport premium is at least ring-fenced. They will have to account for it. Admittedly, over the two years that might be all the time Ofsted lives for, most schools probably will not be inspected. None the less, it is not something that can just disappear. I know the Committee would agree: we are obsessed with the accountability measures for schools, because we think that what you measure people on is what they will give you.
Jonathan Edwards: Exactly.
Chair: The boss tells you that is what he wants and that determines whether you will keep your job or not. Well, guess what? You will deliver that and everything else will be made secondary. Sadly, sport often feels a little secondary for heads. So if you have any thoughts on that or anything else, in terms of what a better accountability system might look like, let us know. There has just been a review of school accountability. A consultation has recently closed, and we are seeing the Secretary of State for Education about that very subject tomorrow morning. So if you or anyone viewing or listening has ideas about better ways of measuring whether sport is being delivered in a proper way within schools, this is a very good time in which to input those ideas and see whether we can get them taken up by Government. May I thank all four of you-
Jonathan Edwards: Health outputs as well. It is not just about sport. Health have contributed significantly to the sports premium, haven’t they? I think it is a health issue as well.
Chair: Yes. Thank you all very much indeed.