Prime Minister's sport idea is "out of touch"
Published 23 August 2012
David Cameron's post-Olympics plan to reintroduce competitive school sports is "completely out of touch" with the majority of children, according to Dr Gary Stidder, principal lecturer in physical education at the University of Brighton's School of Sport and Service Management.
He warned the move would "exclude many young people who have little or no interest in competitive team sports".
Dr Stidder, co-founder of the award-winning Football4Peace project which brings Arab and Jewish children together in Israel, was reacting to the Prime Minister's announcement that all primary school children will be required to play competitive sports as a way of harnessing Team GB's success and inspiring the next generation.
Dr Stidder said PE teachers currently were introducing less competitive activities such as trampolining, mountain biking, orienteering, yoga and karate in order to engage more young people in physical activity.
He said: "It is not the role of PE teachers to produce the next Olympic gold medallists. Do we blame our drama teachers in schools if we fail to win Oscars? No we don't. There is misconception that PE is synonymous with sport and that PE teachers just coach sport, a situation that does not exist in the USA or China who were the top two Olympic medal winning countries.
"PE teachers in this country are there to provide the foundations for physical literacy and to educate and include all young people on the importance of healthy active lifestyles, a view shared by Peter Keen, special adviser at UK Sport."
Dr Stidder, said the government believed sport was the right medicine to prevent low self-esteem amongst young people: "But the link is tenuous and there are better ways, other than increasing competitive team sports, which can be used to promote self-confidence.
"Sport and carefully-managed competition can be a valuable educational experience for young people but it should not be used at the expense of their overall holistic development. Physical education in schools is an entitlement rather than a privilege for all young people and not just for a selected few. Physical education in schools should be socially-inclusive and based upon fairness and social justice."
Dr Stidder and his colleague Sid Hayes, also a principal lecturer in physical education the University of Brighton's School of Sport and Service Management, have co-edited a book 'Equity and Inclusion in Physical Education and Sport', published this month by Routledge, which emphasise a child-centred approach to the teaching and learning of physical education in schools.
You can see a promotional video for the book on vimeo here.
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Contact: Marketing and Communications, University of Brighton, 01273 643022