Olympic 'legacy' fails to ignite the torch of new school sports

3rd June 2011 at 01:00

Just three out of 10 schools have introduced new sports off the back of the London 2012 Olympics, despite the Games being just a year away.

According to results of a survey commissioned by the previous Labour government, only 31 per cent of schools brought in a new sport to engage their pupils with the Olympics and Paralympics.

The poll, which surveyed 1,500 schools, also showed that less than 10 per cent of schools had staged an Olympic or Paralympic-themed event such as a sports day, with just 5 per cent of schools holding inter-school competitions related to the Games.

The research lays bare the amount of work the Coalition will have to do to ensure schools engage with the Olympics to encourage pupils to take up more physical activity.

The team behind the London Olympics bid placed a huge emphasis on involving the country's youth in sport, claiming it would create a "lasting legacy" by staging the event.

Speaking to The TES in April, culture secretary Jeremy Hunt said he had introduced a national school games to vastly increase the number of pupils involved in competitive sport, which would culminate in a tournament in the Olympic Village just before the Games.

"We want to create something that will deliver lasting change and a lasting increase in the number of children participating in competitive school sport," Mr Hunt said.

"We want to look at 2012 not just as a year when we had the biggest sport event in the world, but also as a year where we transformed sport in our schools in a way that will benefit generations of children to come."

A spokesperson from the Youth Sport Trust said the number of sports in schools had grown "significantly" in recent years.

"The number of school sports has increased dramatically over the past five or 10 years, with about 19 sports being available on average in every school," he said.

"There is a huge variety of sports, including Olympic and Paralympic sports such as handball and boccia (a type of bowls for disabled people), which has led to greater take-up of sport in the country's schools."


Pisa surprise

Finland has become a near-permanent fixture in the top of international league tables for well over a decade.

The Nordic country has performed particularly well in maths, according to Pisa and TIMSS rankings, which measure the performance of 15 and 13-year-olds respectively.

But Professor Patrik Scheinin, dean of the faculty of behavioural sciences at Helsinki University, said their initial success in 2001 had come as a surprise.

"If we didn't have the Pisa results when we did, parents would have made the politicians change our system because they were so sure their children weren't getting the best education possible," he said.

Since then the country came top in at least one of reading, maths or science in 2003 and 2006, but lost out in 2009 to a number of countries from the Far East.

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