Coalition hypocrisy – love London 2012, destroy school sport
Posted on 16 November 2010 | 11:11am
Subject to the views of the voters of London, the chances are the Olympics in 2012 will be presided over by David Cameron (Tory), Boris Johnson (Tory), Colin Moyniham (Tory), and Seb Coe (Tory).
Seb has sufficient top human being and greatest British runner of all time qualities to be seen as separate, close to living legend status, but nonetheless there is no escaping the fact that a Games largely delivered by and under Labour will be celebrated by a very Tory top team.
No point bleating. That is what sometimes happens when elections come along the route of long drawn-out major projects. And I am and always have been such a London 2012 fan that I don’t much care who is in charge provided they go well – which they will.
But what we should most definitely be bleating about – far louder than Labour has thus far done – is the disjunction between the coalition’s stated commitment to sport as exemplified by the Games, and what they are doing to school sport.
Labour’s record on school sport was excellent, always accompanied by a Tory-Mail-Telegraph drumbeat of false claims about a decline in access to sports facilities, and lies about opposition to competitive sport in schools.
Labour saw sports participation as a sports policy of course, but also a health policy, a crime policy, a social inclusion policy, an education policy, a family policy. We knew that regular access to sport in school would raise attendance, improve behaviour, develop relationships and help a school’s ethos. It did and continues to do all of those things … but not for much longer.
Central to the policy’s implementation were the School Sports Partnerships which won widespread and deserved praise – and imitation overseas – both for their efficiency and what they did on the ground.
Now, without a mandate, without a proper explanation, and without any seeming awareness of the damage they are doing, the coalition is cutting the £162m funding for all this.
The impact will be felt in every school in the countrty. Well, when I say every, I imagine that Cameron’s old school will still be ok, that the playing fields will continue to flourish and the Wall Game continue to be played. I imagine Wesminster and St Paul’s, which gave us Messrs Clegg and Osborne, will still manage to scrimp together to deliver the best facilities, coaches and trips.
But in the schools used by the many not the few, those schools Cameron, Clegg and Osborne claim to be most motivated by in policy-making, they have allowed – or possibly ordered – Michael Gove to make a cut that will seriously damage sport and seriously diminish the schools experience for a generation of children.
It is worth bearing in mind every time you see them riding the 2012 bandwagon between now and then and beyond. Worth bearing in mind too that if such a move had been made before the IOC decided on where to locate the 2012 Games, London would not have won the bid in the first place. We won in part on legacy, a legacy through which Mr Gove has now taken a very large axe.
In one of the great contradictions that this coalition is becoming, he says he wants to see more competitive sport in schools. How is that going to happen when the very funds and organisation delivering it are to be chopped?