Pupils to compete at London 2012 venues
Schools from across the country will have the chance to compete in some of the venues at the Olympic Park just weeks before the London 2012 Games begin, the Government has announced.
Olympics chiefs and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport have written to every school in the country this week inviting them to take part in the School Games, which will culminate in an Olympic-style tournament next May.
Lord Coe, chairman of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, and culture secretary Jeremy Hunt want to use the new School Games to ensure every pupil feels part of the 2012 Olympics.
Speaking to The TES, Mr Hunt said that the tournament will be used to create lasting change to school sport rather than a one-off competition in an Olympic year.
"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 really transformed sport in our schools, in our communities, moved it up a gear in a way that will benefit generations of children to come," he added.
It is hoped the School Games will take place over the entire school year. There are expected to be four entry levels, with competitions and leagues taking place within schools that will then lead to competition between schools at a district and then county level before culminating at a national tournament at the Olympic Park.
The event will also have a strong disability element, drawing on the increase in popularity in the Paralympic Games. It is anticipated that there will be an opening and closing ceremony for the School Games, allowing school theatres, bands and orchestras to get involved.
Steve Grainger, chief executive of the Youth Sports Trust, which will be running the early stages of the School Games, said it will replace the existing UK School Games.
"The School Games will be about increasing the regularity of competition as well as the depth of competition in schools," Mr Grainger said.
"It will culminate in a showcase of the best sporting talent in the country in as many age groups as possible in as many sports as possible."