Building the Olympic & Paralympic Legacy

Our Olympic and Paralympic summer is officially over, but what a wonderful summer it has been!

So many great images and memories which I’m sure will stay with us for years to come.  Katherine Copeland’s face as it finally dawned on her the enormity of her achievement; Ellie Simmonds as she desperately tried to control her emotions in her Gold medal post race interview; the unbelievable roar as Jonny Peacock stormed over the line to take the 100m sprint title; Gemma Gibbons’ whispered message to her deceased mother; the drama of the Women’s 4x100m medley 34pt swimming relay.... to mention just a few.

As well as being a marvellous spectacle, London 2012 also demonstrated the amazing power of sport.  Its ability to engage, inspire, unite, overcome adversity, change attitudes, improve peoples lives immeasurably and create positive role models for all.

So what of the much talked about legacy?  The Singapore bid of seven years ago succeeded because of the promised legacy for our young people; the theme throughout the Games was to ‘Inspire a generation’.  In short, it is essential that we build upon the fantastic opportunity that the London 2012 Games have afforded us.  We not only have a responsibility, but also a duty, to see that sport and exercise become an accepted part of every young person’s life for years to come.  This is our once in a lifetime chance!

At North Oxfordshire School Sport Partnership, we are doing our bit to help inspire and create opportunities for our local generation. In September we launched a series of new and improved initiatives, targeted mainly at the ‘less active’ and/or children who are not currently engaged in school and community sport.

For secondary aged youngsters we have extra curricular programmes in archery, volleyball, trampolining, dance, tennis and golf, following a successful bid for Sportivate funding in partnership with Cherwell District Council.  All of these involve at least eight weeks of free coaching followed by a further six to eight weeks of advanced tuition in the community club setting.  Participants will be offered junior membership at concessionary rates on completion of the programmes. 

We also start the roll-out of our Secondary Change4Life table tennis programme, with 24 teachers and young leaders completing an English Table Tennis Association training course.  The training will equip each school to establish lunchtime and after school table tennis sessions, that will be supported by representatives from several community table tennis clubs.

In the primary schools, children will benefit once again from the support and guidance of our highly skilled and dedicated team of multi-skills coaches. The coaches have been set the challenge of supporting the development and delivery of high quality PE, increasing participation amongst the ‘less active’, and providing increased opportunities for competition within and between schools.  We are also supporting schools to launch a new network of primary Change4Life clubs aimed at engaging the less active and more vulnerable 7 to 9 year olds.

Whilst the steps outlined above will certainly help to lay a solid foundation for an Olympic and Paralympic legacy in north Oxfordshire, there is a danger that this legacy will be short lived.  Under current Government plans the limited funds available to school sport and school sport networks like ours will come to an end in August 2013

This will mean that all the good work developed over the last eight years – a competition structure delivering around 130 competitions and festivals each year; a coaching structure offering expert tuition to our children and support to our teachers; programmes of young leadership and volunteering creating an army of local ‘Games Makers’; free lunchtime and after school sports provision for children of all ages and abilities; training for teachers, equipping them with the necessary skills and confidence to teach high quality lessons; and partnerships with local sport and leisure providers, enabling children to transition more easily from school to community sport – will disappear over night.

If the Government is serious about building a 2012 legacy it has to:

  • Reverse its plan to further cut funding to school sport and school sport networks from August 2013.
  • In particular, commit to funding the role of School Sport Coordinators (Teacher Release) beyond August 2013.
  • ‘Ring-fence’ School Sport Coordinator funding so that cash-strapped secondary Headteachers are not left with the incredibly difficult decision of whether to sustain the SSCo role or use the money for other school purposes.
  • Reinstate the requirement for all children to receive an absolute minimum of two hours Physical Education a week in school.
  • Ensure that teachers are given the time and resources to focus on the development and delivery of high quality Physical Education and school sport.
  • Improve teacher training to allow primary school graduates to specialise in Physical Education.  This would allow small clusters of schools to appoint a specialist to work across all schools, thereby eventually removing the need to fund School Sport Coodinators.

We have one chance to get this right.  It will be many, many years before we have the good fortune to host another Olympic and Paralympic Games.  We owe it to our children.

If you believe in the power of sport and feel strongly about the future of school sport, maybe you would like to contact your local MP, Secretary of State for Education and Prime Minister to express your concerns (email addresses below).  You may also feel inclined to encourage others, including parents of our children, to do the same.

Tony Baldry - Member of Parliament for North Oxfordshire (Cherwell District) - tony.baldry.mp@parliament.uk

Nicola Blackwood - Member of Parliament for Oxford West & Abingdon – nicola.blackwood.mp@parliament.uk

David Cameron – Prime Minister – camerond@parliament.uk

Michael Gove – Secretary of State for Education – michael.gove.mp@parliament.uk

Contact

Carl  Hamilton

Carl Hamilton
Partnership Development Manager

Telephone: 01295 264216
Mobile:
Email: ch.nossp@bgn.oxon.sch.uk

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