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Giving Pupils a love of Sport

Write to the Department of Education

This week the Department for Education put out a tweet saying we want to give pupils a love of sport and be the stars of tomorrow”.

We have suggested that if DfE are serious about this they need to immediately dismantle bubbles and isolation and other school restrictions which are so limiting to the ability of schools to offer a full array of sporting activities, and we thought it would be a fitting gesture to ask that a Children’s Olympics be hosted as a thank you for all children have sacrificed during the pandemic.

Please feel free to contact Gavin Williamson and Nick Gibb with these suggestions using this template, or a tailored letter or email.   You can email their constituency address gibbn@parliament.uk and gavin.williamson.mp@parliament.uk AND send a copy via the DfE form here.   If you wish please also COPY in your own MP.

Feel free to tailor – please use #stopisolatingkids and #childrenfirst if possible and obv. be polite.

Dear Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education, and Nick Gibb MP,

Giving Pupils a love of Sport

Earlier this week your department tweeted saying we want to give pupils a love of sport and be the stars of tomorrow”.  As a concerned parent and member of the campaign group UsforThem, I am writing to ask that these words be matched by urgent action.

Children have been at the bottom of the heap in decision making for the last 15 months.  They have stood by as we closed their schools, cancelled outdoor sport and even now, at a time when stadiums are filling up with adult events, are failing to get their sports days, sport and PE lessons back to normal.

This weekend Wembley will have a capacity crowd of 15,000 for the finals – no social distancing; next week Silverstone hosts 140,000.  Yet according to an UsforThem survey of members only 1/10 schools were allowing parents to watch their childrens sports days.   Whilst football fans crowded London stadiums watching the Euros, parents -for the second year in a row – are forced to watch their childrens sports days on Zoom.

We are now into the second year of the pandemic and yet still many schools are failing to offer the full array of sports and PE activities.  We have heard countless reports of schools reducing play times and break times and schools dividing up playgrounds into smaller spaces to keep year groups separate.  We have been told of parents having to peer through the gaps in railings to watch their childrens sports days, and of year groups of children being sent home in tears as their sports days were cancelled or abandoned.  And all of this at a time when we know that 86% of adults have Covid antibodies.

The impact of these measures on childrens health have been disastrous.

Following lockdown and school closures one in six children now suffers with a mental health disorder; one third of children are inactive, failing to do even 30 minutes of exercise per day and Swim England believe that over one million children will leave primary school unable to swim.

Sport and exercise are a crucial factor in wellbeing and preventing mental health issues and the ongoing disruption looks harder and harder to justify especially given that many of these sporting events would have been outdoors.

Children have never been so demoralised and nor have they been asked to give up more in order to protect adults.

If Department for Education are serious about giving pupils a love of sport we call on you to act now to make this a reality.  Please remove restrictions in schools which are limiting the ability of schools to offer full extra-curricular activities – bubbles and isolation must go, now.  Please give unambiguous directions to childrens activities and groups, including summer camps, that activities are to operate normally and to offer the full array of childrens activities and sports. 

Finally, as a mark of your commitment to children and as a mark of intent to show that this time, you will match your rhetoric with action, we call on you to host an outdoor sporting event for children – a Childrens Olympics – as a fitting tribute to all that children have given up over the last fifteen months.