More pupils are taking part in sport at school, but thousands are not being taught competitive games such as cricket, tennis and athletics.
Ministers hailed the results of a national survey, which showed that many secondary schools had met a key government target to boost school sports a year early.
However, with the 2012 Olympics coming to London, nearly one in 10 of the 11,400 schools in the school sports partnerships initiative were not offering athletics, and 29 per cent were not offering tennis.
And 15 per cent of the schools were not offering cricket this year, despite the enthusiasm for the game sweeping England during this summer's dramatic Ashes Test series.
By 2006, all schools in England will be in school sports partnerships, which involve primary, secondary and special schools co-operating to offer more sporting opportunities for their pupils.
The Government has set a target for 75 per cent of pupils to spend a minimum of two hours each week on high-quality PE and school sport by next year.
The survey showed that secondary schools in the partnerships scheme had already met this target.
And 69 per cent of pupils across all schools in the survey were also spending two hours a week on sport and PE, up from 62 per cent last year.
Lord Adonis, schools minister, said: "The survey results show that we are making good progress in boosting sport in schools.
"I am particularly pleased to see that partnership secondary schools have met our target a year early, and a rise in primary participation is ensuring that we remain well on track to deliver our targets."
Richard Caborn, the sports minister, said that the country's young people should be able to enjoy "a lifetime of involvement in sport".
"Many of our youngsters competing now may be winning medals on the podiums of the London 2012 Olympics," he said.
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