Monday, June 13, 2016

Schools athletics

I will be in danger of repeating myself here, but having Avon Schools paperwork all over our dining table for the last fortnight, with another month to go, I feel qualified to have an opinion.

Lesley got involved in Avon Schools because she was determined to ensure that young people were never overlooked or badly treated as our daughter had been. She has made it her business to know all the potential athletes across Bristol, S Glos, N Somerset and BANES. Often she has had a lot of support from PE teachers across the old county of Avon and there have been good friendships formed with teachers, coaches, parents, athletes and officials.

In recent years, however, people who helped her with the organisation of district, county, regional and national championships have fallen by the wayside. Some have moved away, a couple have died, still others have reached the age when they can expect not to have to do this any longer.

But surely, there is a constant supply of young, keen PE teachers. It seems not. Or to be more fair, the emphasis of school PE has changed from teaching sports and encouraging good sportspeople to providing exercise for all the pupils. Maybe that is a good thing: I'm not qualified to say. But it does mean that a generation of teachers who were encouraged and taught by PE staff of Lesley's vintage are not now passing on that encouragement and teaching.

In practice what this means is that anything that happens at the weekend or later in the school day is not their responsibility; they aren't paid to do it, and they aren't going to do it.

Now - English Schools, the top championships for most young athletes, specifically requires the attendance of teachers with their county teams. Avon have got away with having retired teachers a couple of times (and I must mention the one or two teachers who have come along sometimes).

Lesley has nearly had enough. I have nearly had enough. Maybe from 2017 onwards school athletics in Avon will be entirely in the hands of independent schools, where they don't seem to have caught up with the new progressive approach to PE.

Rant over.

Please vote Remain. Having two daughters-in-law from opposite ends of the EU I could hardly vote for the other side, even if it wasn't led by a band of disreputable scoundrels.

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