Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Why did pupils from Independent Schools win so many Olympic medals in London 2012?

39% of the medals won by TeamGB at London2012 were won by pupils who were educated in UK independent schools, despite only the sector accounting for only 7% of the total school population (for full stats and a list of medallists and schools see previous blogpost)
There are very good reasons why these schools are so successful in fostering sporting success. Ultimately it comes down to valuing sport as an important part of the curriculum, and investing in it:
  1. Time. Pupils in Independent Schools do on average over twice as much sport a week than pupils in the Maintained Sector. Pupils in top teams routinely have practices both before and after school, in addition to their games and PE times.
  2. Facilities. Independent schools have invested millions in providing state-of-the-art facilities. Like most schools, Berkhamsted has a sports hall, 6 lane 25m swimming pool, extensive games pitches, weights rooms, gymnasia and so on. Furthermore, we have partnership arrangements with the local Squash and Tennis club and with the local Fitness studio.
  3. Coaching. Most importantly, Independent Schools invest in quality sports coaching and expertise. My last school, Kelly College in Devon, has produced 26 Olympians (mainly in Swimming) since 1980, including six Olympic medallists, with only a four-lane 25m pool. A school can boast the best facilities in the world, but without the drive and expertise of top coaches, it will be in vain.
  4. Bridging the 16-18 Gap. One important aspect of the sport debate that has been missed by the Government in their recent pronouncements is that young people not only need to take regular exercise and to play sport during the period of compulsory schooling, but they need to keep going from 16 until 18, when many will go on to University. Most Independent Schools make sport compulsory in the sixth form, which means that when young people move into adulthood they are accustomed to taking regular exercise and have experienced the social and health benefits of being part of team or training group.

Building a Healthy Nation.

This debate is far more important than a discussion about winning Olympic medals in 2016 and beyond. Unless we foster good habits in our young people, we are in danger that this generation will be so obese that it will trigger a health crisis that will stretch nation’s resources to breaking point. Schools, Colleges and Universities have an opportunity – and I believe a responsibility - to encourage young people to develop habits in relation to regular exercise that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. Independent Schools take seriously this responsibility.

Last year 98% of the girls in Year 7 at Berkhamsted represented the school at sport. Many of them will continue with school team sports for the whole of their time at school, others will move to other forms of exercise. By the sixth form over a third of the year group are representing the school, but every single one of them will be doing at least three hours sport a week. Some will be swimming, some will be going to the gym (spinning, kick-boxing, circuit training etc), and some will be doing yoga.
Independent Schools believe that sport and exercise are a fundamental part of a British education and they are willing to back up that belief with the resources that are required (time, facilities, coaching) . There is here a model that the Government would do well to replicate in the Maintained Sector.

Independent Schools - Inspiring a Generation.

See also

1 comment:

  1. Your article has basis, I do not deny that. But the article you write is totally crass. You stated about facilities and 'top' coaches being a key part of the apparant success of private school medal counts. But the way you put this across is boastful and extrememly insulting. There are thousands of state school PE teachers who put there all into working with children to acheive the best they can and put there all into it. For then you write how only a 'top' coach is the way for success insults so many thousands of people working so hard for children. State schools these days are sqeezed for sufficient funding. But I have experienced teachers who do not work with ''sports hall, 6 lane 25m swimming pool, extensive games pitches, weights rooms, gymnasia and so on. Furthermore'' but they try to a huge extent to make the quality of teaching the best it can be. How dare you emply that these people are useless becouse they are not but the best? There is no evidence for this at all? Nobody wants to see such an attitude like this and I fail to see an audience for your article. You say that 39% of the medals were private schooled individuels but still 61% are state schools. Also for you to use example for advertising for your school is also something we dont want to see, and especially how you put this in the local newspaper is such totally sour. Thank you.