The Education session of the All Party Commission took place on 29th January 2014, with evidence given by: Margaret Talbot of the International Council of Sport Science and Physical Education; Anna Cain and Jordan Clarke from the Boxing Academy; Charlie Dark, founder of Run Dem Crew; Brian Dickens, Director of the Community Action Zone at Lilian Baylis Old School; David Bond at Project Wild Thing; Sarah Blackwell representing Forest Schools; Derek Peaple, headmaster of Park House School; and athlete and parent Paula Radcliffe MBE.
The session showcased some fantastic projects around the UK that are engaging young people both in and outside of regular education, and demonstrated how physical activity can help achieve better educational and developmental outcomes in a range of areas. These benefits include giving participants more confidence, the possibility to interact with other young people and adults to develop social skills, better concentration and energy in the classroom, and setting them up for long, healthy lives.
A strong emphasis was placed on the need for the curriculum to re-prioritise physical education in order to help children integrate different activities into their daily lives, as well as experience both competitive and non-competitive environments.
On 11th February the All-Party Commission on Physical Activity held its fourth oral evidence session on the topic of Sport, chaired by The Baroness Grey-Thompson DBE, DL. The witnesses came from a broad spectrum of the industry: Catherine Prisk of Play England; Mandy Ayres from Nike and in her capacity as Chair of Public Affairs Group at the Federation of the European Sporting Goods Industry; Emma Boggis, Head of the Olympic and Paralympic Legacy Unit at the Cabinet Office, and Mike Diaper of Sport England; Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation and English Federation of Disability Sport represented by Tim Woodhouse and Chris Ratcliffe; Tom Gibbins at the Tennis Foundation, and academic Professor Richard Bailey of Liverpool John Moores University also in attendance.
Echoing comments from previous sessions, there was an emphasis on the need for sporting activities to be engaging and fun for people of all ages, and to give young people in particular access to a wide range of different sport options. This in turn would help them find an activity they enjoy and to motivate them towards long-term participation. The Olympic Legacy was a strong theme, with witnesses analysing how we can capitalise on the success of the Games and other sporting events in order to get people in the UK to be more active. Witnesses also highlighted the need to make people more positive about playing sports as much as spectating, and the importance of supporting professionals.
A range of critical partners were referenced, including all relevant Government Departments, UKTI, schools and teachers, and sports National Governing Bodies – there was also discussion of the critical role of mothers in integrating physical activity into family life.