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Another cannibalising coalition policy – axeing the means of delivering their school sport vision

Posted on 23 April 2011 | 6:04am

Another example if I may of this coalition’s tendency toward cannabilibistic policies.

Exhibit 1 comes from the Camden New Journal, where I read of the professional demise of a man mamed Mike Jackson, not the singer, nor the General, but a man who has for 27 years worked to promote the sporting activities of children in Camden.

My own three children have all benefited at various times from his professionalism, his organisational skills, his willingness to work long hours often seven days a week to make sure kids who want to be good at sport have the best chance of being so.

Page 7 of the CNJ tells me that Mike is one of three coaches being sacked by the council.

The Tory government would no doubt say this is a matter for the Council. But councils all over the country are making decisions like this to satisfy the central demand for enormous cuts.

Exhibit 2 comes from the Times Educational Supplement and a fairly soft interview with Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

The headline tells us he ‘wants to be 2012 winner’. The subhead warms to the theme ‘ ‘The minister is determined to bring Olympic ideals to every UK school in the run-up to the London Games.’

As befits the government of The Big Society, the Big Idea for Sport is a Big School Games.

‘We’re not talking about one day at the end of the year,’ gushes Hunt, who admits he was hopeless at sport at Charterhouse, where doubtless they had the kind of facilities Camden kids can only dream of. ‘We’re talking about a whole programme of competitive sport.’

But with Michael Gove (who we can safely assume was even worse at sport than Hunt) in charge of schools, of course it will be ‘up to heads’ how all these kids and schools are engaged in competitive sport.

But you will not have genuine and universal competitive sport in schools without political will (which wasn’t much in evidence when Gove was trying to axe school sport funding), investment, and co-ordination between schools. Mike Jackson was a symbol of the investment and co-ordination. He has forgotten more about school sport than Gove and Hunt will ever know. And before the Tory trolls come on with their misleading playing fields and competitive sport stats, access to sport grew under Labour.

They have not thought it through. They know the Olympic Games will be a success, because they have to be. The School Games will be a great day and the media will be in their usual tummy-tickling Tory mode and so Hunt and Gove will say it all went terribly well.

But there is nothing in Exhibit 2 to tell me they have a thought through policy for school sport. And there is plenty in Exhibit 1 to tell me they don’t. That is how this particular cannibalism works … Government says it believes in school sport, and cuts the means needed to deliver it.

ps, off to Derby today. However did anyone ever criticise the play-offs? Burnley went through a terrible run, one point out of 12, but suddenly with two wins in four days we are back in with a chance

  • Robert

    If you have 15 mins to spare in Derby can I suggest a quick visit to Derby Museum and Art Gallery.

    It’s got probably the best collection on the planet of Joseph Wright paintings – not surprising as he came from there.

    Joseph Wright of Derby found himself not very successful at getting portrait commissions from the aristocracy and their hangers-on in London and Bath but made his name painting the men of the future – the drivers and inventors of the industrial revolution.

    He wouldn’t be caught dead painting Jeremy Hunt or Michael Gove.

    Mike Jackson would have been his chosen sitter.

  • Alan Mcardle

    James Naughtie got it right when he mispronounced Jeremy Hunt’s surname

  • Pauline Scott

    I am a teacher in a State school. I get the TES and usually find it informative and provocative. What provoked me this week was their failure to challenge any of the bland assertions made by Hunt. Thank you for doing so

  • Chris Hills

    As a Forest fan, I fear Derby won’t be too bothered if you beat them. You are right about the play offs. You, us, Hull, Leeds look like we are going for the last spot. We struck lucky last night. What is it about sven and keepers

  • Thanks for reminding people of exactly what Gove & Hunt are doing to school sport. To do it at all is criminal. To do less than 12 months before the Olympics is obscene. I blogged in more detail on this topic a few weeks back – – for those who are interested…

  • Olli Issakainen

    There is no economic need to cut £81bn. Even Nick Clegg has admitted that the bond markets are not forcing cuts on this scale.
    The cuts are a political choice aiming at smaller state. But people in Britain should realise that private companies charge more for the services they provide as they operate for profit.
    0.5% levy on land values would bring in £50bn, and there would be no need for cuts.
    Britain´s debt is not a problem. Economists say that only at the level of 90% of GDP debt becomes a problem by slowing growth.
    Growth is the best way to reduce the deficit, not drastic cuts. Mr Osborne´s plan is not working. It seems that Britain´s economy has grown only 0.3% during the past six months.
    Osborne´s plan needs growth of 3% to work.
    Before the financial crisis Britain´s debt was only 36.3% of GDP. The Maastricht Treaty sets debt reference level of 60%.
    The deficit was only 2.7% of GDP. The Maastricht Treaty sets deficit reference level of 3%.
    So it is ridiculous to claim that Labour overspent.
    It is OK to borrow within reason during the boom years, and invest on health, education and infrastructure. This is a recipe for future growth and success.
    Labour´s spending was on capital investment, not on current costs. Bank bailouts and recession caused the deficit as IFS has confirmed.
    It is interesting that people who blame Labour for the “mess” never use official ONS, Treasury or OECD figures to back their claims.
    I do wonder why..?

    Ps. I am confident that Burnley will make the play-offs. We have the best squad and we usually do well in the spring. Up the Clarets!

  • Dave Simons

    Thanks Robert. I’ve seen the Joseph Wright paintings many times in Derby Museum and Art Gallery and completely agree with your assessment. Bear in mind though that the Joseph Wright Gallery is currently being refurbished. Some of Wright’s paintings are on display in Buxton Museum. Check out Derby on:

    Let’s hope the galleries stays open and keep their opening hours! And thanks for introducing a bit of art into a blog about sport, in which I have never had much interest! Here are some of Wright’s paintings.

  • nemo

    Mike Jackson being let go by Camden Council? This is a mistake on their part. I competed against him several times on the north London open athletics circuit over 200m and 400m about 10 years ago when he was competing as a veteran. He was one of the few people in the sport I actually liked. A genuine and truly large-souled gentleman best describes him. Before Camden Council dispense with his services perhaps they should consider that had he been employed in many European countries or in America he would probably be on a six figure salary. Don’t usually comment on blogs, but this story has really pis*ed me off.

  • Robert

    Dave, thank you. I was not aware of the refurb at Derby.

    On the other hand, earlier this year found Leicester (New Walk) had put their German Expressionist works into store while rearranging their rooms – leaving only one piece by George Grosz and one by Kathe Kollwitz on show. Once they are all back on the walls that’s another gallery well worth a look.

    Visions of life in a Tory Britain writ large in the fine-art of post WW1 Germany.