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Ofsted report highlights chasm in sporting opportunities between state and private schools

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A new report has discovered “unacceptable discrepancies" in the proportion of privately educated people excelling at top-level sport compared to those who have attended state schools in the UK.

The Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills’ (Ofsted) Going the extra mile: Excellence in competitive school sport report allowed for the body to visit 10 independent schools, 35 state schools, while also surveying over 500 head teachers and more than 1,000 11 to 18-year-olds.

The report found that despite only one in 10 students in England attend fee-paying schools; privately educated pupils make up the majority of the top levels in both UK rugby and cricket.

Findings from the survey also showed that the majority of state school head teachers perceived competitive sport as optional, with only 13 per cent stating they expected every student to take part.

As well as highlighting apparent discrepancies between the schooling options, the report has shown that the most successful schools, both state and private, were able to recognise that competitive sport can help to energise a schooling culture and improve grades.

It was also discovered that out of the 35 state schools visited only 15 were "delivering excellence" in regards to competitive sport for their students, while just 40 per cent of students said they participate in sport outside of school.

As a means of improving current standards, the report alludes to the notion that teachers need to be prepared to dedicate time and thought throughout the week, whether it be before or after school, or even at weekends.

There has also been calls for staff members to pick out talented pupils who could be provided with extra coaching, while also ensuring that matches are accessible to all students too.

Ofsted’s report was conducted as the organisation attempted to discover why the success of Team GB in the 2012 Olympic was influenced more so by former students of independent schools.

Following its publication, the report’s main author Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, has stated that students in the state school system deserve the same opportunities to excel at competitive sport as those in the independent sector.

“It simply cannot be right that state educated athletes are so woefully under-represented in our elite sports,” said Wilshaw.

“Heads who treat competitive sport with suspicion or as an optional extra are not only denying youngsters the clear dividends that come with encouraging them to compete, they are also cementing the social inequality that holds our nation back.

“Sport can have a transformative effect on schools and pupils. It is clear that a commitment to sporting excellence often reflects a culture of high expectations and achievement in the school as a whole. Schools that win on the field win in the exam hall.”

A full copy of Ofsted's report can be obtained here

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A new report has discovered “unacceptable discrepancies" in the proportion of privately educated people excelling at top-level sport compared to those who attend state schools in the UK.
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