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School sport helps children to reach potential in classroom

By 29 September 2020October 22nd, 2020No Comments

TAKING part in school sport can improve a child’s educational attainment, but Scotland appears to be failing to grasp this as it continues to leave sport way down the priority list in the Covid-19 recovery.

School Sport New Zealand CEO Garry Carnachan highlighted in an OSS webinar, watched by nearly 2,000 people from across Scotland and worldwide, how New Zealand had deliberately used PE and after-school sport as a tool to help children cope with and recover from lockdown.

But while PE in Scotland is back in various forms, still nearly three months on from schools returning extra-curricular school sport remains on hold across most of Scotland. East Lothian Council, and independent schools, welcomed children back into sport activity in September, and thousands of children have been playing club sport since July – when the government gave the green light for children to return to sport activity – often on the same facilities and with the same coaches. But the majority of secondary school-children are still awaiting council green lights to start school sport with their friends. Now the concern is that this could be damaging their long-term academic performance and attempts to close Scotland’s attainment gap.

In New Zealand, from the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to community levels, there was an agreement that moresport/physical activity than usual was necessary in the initial return to school, partly to help children re-integrate and socialise, but also because of the direct link between school sport and academic progress.

In it, he quoted research overseen by University College London’s Institute of Education, which revealed: “Children taking part in regular organised sport and physical activities aged five, seven and 11 were almost 1½ times more likely to reach a higher than expected level in their Key Stage 2 maths test aged 11.”

The study was controlled for other factors – like a child’s background and whether they were young or old for their school year – but it supported other global studies that suggested sport offers a clear route to reducing educational inequalities and closing attainment gaps.

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