Wales can show how sport in schools can change the health destiny of a generation of young people, the annual Wales Education Lecture has heard.
Professor Laura McAllister, who is chairperson of Sport Wales and a former captain of the Wales women’s football team, believes that if sport is at the heart of schools it will not only push individuals to achieving their personal best, but will also address the health inequalities that “blight the most vulnerable sections of Welsh society”.
Organised by the General Teaching Council of Wales, the keynote education lecture of the year attracts leading figures from government, civic society and the education sector.
Prof McAllister said the invitation to give the lecture underlined a national appetite in the education sector for quality school sport and Wales’s world leadership in actively considering how sport in schools could play a critical role in developing the mental and physical wellbeing of every child.
She said: “All of us involved in the provision of sport and educational opportunities for exercise have a duty to make sure every child has the same quality opportunities.
“I, for one, am tired of being told of Wales’s limitations. ‘We’re a poor country, an unhealthy country-with an obese, poorly-educated population, lacking in entrepreneurial skills and with an under-developed private sector’.
“Say it enough and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, especially for our young people. I see something different and all that will hold us back is a poverty of ambition.”
The Welsh government has set-out a commitment to giving physical literacy the same status as literacy and numeracy. Earlier this year, the government invited Wales’s legendary Paralympian, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, to lead a committee which recommended positive action to counter child inactivity.
Last month the Welsh School Sports Survey, the largest of its kind in the world, showed an almost
50 per cent increase in the number of Welsh children regularly taking part in sport and physical activity.
Prof McAllister added: “Quickly raising the standards of all schools to the best performing schools requires Estyn to report on physical literacy. This is not about cash, it is about commitment.”
To find out more about the survey and view the results visit www.schoolsportsurvey.org.uk