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State schools need more time for sport says Ben

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: August 18, 2012

  • Ben Ainslie

  • Ben Ainslie on the Thames

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Olympic hero Ben Ainslie has called for schools to dedicate more time to sport.

Four-time gold medal winner Ainslie believes that the national curriculum should allow more time for pupils to practise time-consuming sports, such as sailing.

He was talking after completing a "lap of honour" on the Thames, where hundreds of people watched in amazement as the Olympic Finn-class champion performed turns and stunts beneath Tower Bridge.

"There should be an afternoon put aside… for sports like sailing, where it takes a bit more time," he said.

"A lot of private schools do this, but it's not in the national curriculum."

Having an hour at a time set aside for physical education meant that children could only really take part in sports on the school field or in the gym, he said. Instead, state schools should be encouraged to teach sports such as sailing or climbing which cannot always be done near a school.

This disparity was recently reflected in the ratio of independent to state school-educated medal winners at London 2012. Despite educating a mere 7% of children nationally, 37% of medal winners attended fee-paying schools.

Ainslie did, however, see room for optimism in the wake of the fantastically successful London games.

"I know personally that the Government is right behind school sports," he said.

"It's great to hear David Cameron commit to four years of funding."

Ainslie's Finn-class boat Rita, with which he has won three of his four gold medals, will shortly be put on display in the National Maritime museum in Falmouth.

The boat is expected to return within the next couple of weeks and will be displayed alongside her laser companion until the end of the year, when both will be strung up as part of the museum's flotilla of 'flying' boats.

Ben Lumby, exhibitions manager at the Maritime Museum, said: "We're here to celebrate the sea, boats and Cornwall and what better story to tell than that of Ben and Rita".

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  • josdave  |  August 19 2012, 1:34PM

    Better get a move on before all the playing fields are sold off. There is a row going on in Newquay at the moment where the school itself has sanctioned a purchase of playing fields by a supermarket. Between 1997 and 2010 213 playing fields were sold while in the preceding period 1979 - 1997 10,000 were sold. It's easy to see what priority the Tories put on physical exercise in schools. Many of those sold under Labour were in fact schools that had closed.

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  • TheodoreV  |  August 18 2012, 1:37PM

    Maybe it's worth noting that nearly 40% of the British medal winners attended private schools when only 7% (20% in London) of the total school population do so. It replicates the academic divide. What are the crucial factors that make the difference?

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  • Doitdreckley  |  August 18 2012, 11:10AM

    It has to be the right pupils though who have some aptitude and interest, otherwise its a waste of their time when they could be doing somthing that gets them a future suitable for them.

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