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Finns show way on sports schools

The cross-party sports group of the Scottish Parliament has been sent a report on sports schools in Finland by Ian Thomson of Stirling University and David Fairweather, the curriculum director at Falkirk College. The report looks at how Finland laid the foundations for Olympic and world championship medals through a network of 12 sports schools. It concludes that Scotland needs a firm foundation for elite sport and that the Finnish model of sports schools was "efficient, effective and economical".

With Finland having a similar population to Scotland, it is seen as showing the way ahead, though Profssor Thomson and Mr Fairweather argue that the Finnish approach is not revolutionary; Glasgow has already made facilities for special provision through the sports school at Bellahouston Academy.

The report says there is no evidence that academic achievement suffers through increased athletic performance and can be enhanced, so youngsters need not choose between academic and athletic excellence. The Finnish sports schools have high academic entrance criteria and sports training is seen as a part of the curriculum. There is no culture of coaching outwith school hours in school facilities.

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