Poll: Should competitive sports be a central part of school life, as new Ofsted report demands?

Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw. Photo: Joe Giddens/PA Wire Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw. Photo: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Friday, June 20, 2014
7:00 AM

State schools should learn from the independent sector and give competitive sports a central part of school life, a new report published today claims.

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The Ofsted report, Going the extra mile: excellence in competitive school sport, looked at why 41pc of Britain’s medalists at the London 2012 Olympics came from independent schools, despite them only catering for a small minority of children.

It found schools with high sporting standards have similarly high expectations in the classroom, and said both help to cultivate an environment in which pupils excel. Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw recognised that many independent schools have a financial advantage, but said attitude rather than resources are key to their sporting success.

He said: “The real value of competitive sport is the positive effect it has on education. Schools that win on the field win in the exam hall.”

The report calls for state schools to recognise the role competitive sport plays in building the whole person, expect all students to participate in regular competitive sport, and foster meaningful sporting links with local and professional sports clubs.

Alastair Ogle, headteacher of Alderman Peel High School in Wells, a specialist sports college which was named Norfolk sports school of the year in 2012 and 2013, said he “definitely” thought there was a link between sports and academic performance. However, he said the school did not have the facilities or resources to produce international athletes, but sees its role as igniting the passion of students and directing them to the next stage of their sporting career. He added: “I think it is very dangerous to compare state schools with individual schools. I think many heads would agree that if we had the funding the independent school had, we could do a lot more.”

Melvyn Roffe, principal of Wymondham College, which has a high reputation for sports and academic achievement, said he doubted there was a direct causal link between the two.

He said if a school was doing well in sports, it was a sign it had a healthy ethos with a broader curriculum that was concerned with more than just “grinding for exams”.

He said: “I expect you would find exactly the same with music and drama. It’s an ethos link, and an indication that schools are taking the job of educating children, in a broader sense, much more seriously.”

An Ofsted spokesman said sport would not be given a more prominent role when individual schools are inspected.

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