Prime Minister Tony Blair has acknowledged the part golf has played in encouraging more school children to get into sport.
Mr Blair was addressing a packed auditorium of more than 1,500 delegates at the 2007 Sports Colleges Conference in Telford. His speech praised the country’s growing network of sports colleges for significantly improving whole school standards and creating more opportunities for young people to develop through PE and sport.
The PM talked of a “tremendous turn-around” in school sport and he highlighted golf as one of the non-traditional sports that teachers are now able to offer children in more and more schools. “The number of pupils doing archery, golf and cycling, for example, have all gone up rapidly,” he said.
Mr Blair revealed that 80 per cent of pupils are now doing at least two hours of PE and sport in a typical week, up nearly 30 per cent from 2003/4 and five per cent above the government’s target.
Alan Johnson, the Education Secretary, told the conference that the number of pupils studying golf in school had increased by 64 per cent in the past three years. Mr Johnson spoke of the success of schools in encouraging participation among children who had previously shunned physical activity. Nearly a fifth (23 per cent) of schools offer golf as an activity, up from 14 per cent in 2003-04, according to the Department for Education.
The Golf Foundation, a charity committed to the sporting and social development of young people through golf, currently works closely with 265 School Sport Partnerships (60% of the total number) and by the Spring this figure is expected to reach 300. Last year, 1,944 teachers attended Golf Foundation training workshops to enable them to deliver golf in schools in a safe, fun and educational setting. It is estimated that 500,000 children have experienced golf through the Golf Foundation during the last year.
Mike Round, chief executive of the Golf Foundation, said, “Working in support of the National Golf Partnerships, the Foundation’s highly committed team of development officers has seen at first hand the massive impact golf is now having in our schools. There is no doubt that golf has played a strong part in many schools reaching these government targets.”
Mike Round also believes that golf is a key ingredient in what the PM called the “power of sport as a catalyst” for huge social benefit, including: promoting physical and mental well-being; helping life skills such as leadership and teamwork, and offering a significant aid in classroom learning.
Mike said, “Everything we do in schools is about giving children a great learning experience, good exercise and equipping them with what we call ‘skills for life’. Golf is a vital modern pastime as it helps to promote values like honesty, co-operation, respect,
self-motivation, concentration and perseverance.”
Prime Minister Blair was speaking at the annual two-day conference, organised by the Youth Sport Trust, this year celebrating the 10th anniversary of the first designated Sports Colleges in 1997. For a full transcript of the speech go to http://www.number10.gov.uk/output/Page10897.asp
Golf Foundation www.golf-foundation.org