Team spirit looks set to win match

4th November 1994 at 00:00
The departmental battle between education and national heritage for dominance in school sport is likely to continue after the publication of the revised national curriculum.

So far it looks as though Iain Sproat, the Sports Minister, is slightly ahead on points, because the new programmes of study place greater emphasis on competitive games up to school leaving age.

Dance teachers' fears that their area could be emasculated may be confirmed as composition is given less weight and English traditional dances more prominence.

These changes, expected to be announced next week, reflect the preferences of Mr Sproat and the Prime Minister who have been pressing the Department for Education all year to increase the amount of competitive team games in schools. Mr Major pledged at this year's Conservative party conference that "the national curriculum would put competitive games back at the heart of school life".

But the debate will continue with the publication of a joint departmental report, due before Christmas, which will recommend other ways of boosting sport in schools.

Government figures show a decline in the number of qualified PE teachers in secondary schools from 33,900 to 30,300 between 1977 and 1992 which could mean schools will have difficulty in complying with the new orders.

Mr Sproat told Parliament this week that he would "look again" at regulations and planning guidance notes regarding selling playing fields. He was reflecting another Prime Ministerial concern expressed at the conference when Mr Major said he didn't want councils selling off playing fields they may need.

Meanwhile, a report from the Welsh Sports Council shows that around half of pupils prefer games to PE. But a "common complaint in both is the way some teachers favoured the most able pupils, leaving the rest feeling ignored".

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