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The BPA previews the Paralympics – and offers advice on how to get involved in disability sport August 28, 2012

Posted by Jonathan Barnes, editor in Special Educational Needs.
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With the Paralympic Games about to begin in London, we thought it would be a good time to revisit this article, written by The British Paralympic Association earlier this year for the 2012-13 edition of our leading guide, Which School? for Special Needs.

As well as previewing the Games, the piece provides useful information about how to get involved in disability sport…

“This year, the Paralympic Games will take place between 29 August and 9 September in London. The Games started in this country in 1948 after Dr Ludwig Gutmann organised a competition for disabled WWII veterans, so this year they are coming home.

The BPA’s mission for the Games is to use their power to inspire lasting change in the way people perceive disability sport. London 2012 will be the biggest Paralympic Games in history. The team from Great Britain and Northern Ireland that compete at the Games are known as ParalympicsGB and they are very proud of the team’s record at the Paralympic Games, coming second on the medal table at the past three summer Games. They are expecting to field their biggest and best team ever in London with over 300 athletes expected to compete in a GB tracksuit.

So far, more than a million tickets have been snapped up and spectators can look forward to watching over 4000 athletes from 170 countries compete in 20 sports. These include well-known sports in which Great Britain have a proud track-record, including cycling, equestrian and swimming, to Paralympic-specific sports such as boccia, wheelchair rugby and sitting volleyball.

To be selected to compete at a Paralympic Games is the pinnacle of an elite disabled athlete’s career. It takes years of hard work, training and commitment to reach the levels needed to compete at the Paralympics. However the BPA recognise that the London Paralympic Games present a fantastic opportunity to inspire a new generation of disabled people to get into sport.

The BPA believe that sport is an excellent way for all young people to keep active, build confidence and make new friends. Disabled people in the UK can get involved by logging on to Parasport, a web-based programme run jointly by the BPA and Deloitte, which is designed to allow users to identify sports suitable for them and then identify clubs within their local area.

Through Parasport, the BPA provide information to make it as easy as possible for people to find high quality sporting opportunities in their area. It is both an educational and signposting tool. As well as allowing users to identify suitable sports and local clubs, users can also read and watch videos about existing Paralympic sports and a growing number of non-Paralympic sports; useful links are included for those interested in learning more about any particular sport or club. News, events listing and information on coaching, volunteering and skills are also available on the site (www.parasport.org.uk).

Another programme is the Playground to Podium scheme within schools. This programme, a partnership between the BPA, the Youth Sports Trust, the English Federation for Disability Sport and Sport England, has given support to schools to set up and run specific days to identify potential talent and signpost young disabled children to sporting opportunities. Playground to Podium has now been running for three years.

The BPA also use talent days, called Paralympic Potential Days, to identify talented individuals who could represent Great Britain at future Games. At an elite level, the Paralympic Potential Days have proved increasingly successful in allowing National Governing Bodies (NGBs) to identify talented individuals and increase the number of people in their sports development programmes. The days, several of which were run last year, are held at various locations across the country and are attended by up to a dozen NGBs who get to see between 50-100 pre-screened athletes aged between 13-38.

These programmes have all helped to develop the pathway disabled people have, to not only start in sport but also achieve success at the highest level. To this end the BPA can be proud of a comprehensive talent ID programme that ensures that the next generation of athletes are continually being identified and nurtured. Several athletes identified through these days are likely to be selected to ParalympicsGB for London 2012.

The BPA is working hard to maximise public engagement and awareness of Paralympic sports and athletes, with the aim of using the inspirational performances of British athletes on the field of play during London 2012 to encourage the next generation of Paralympians to take up sport.”

For more information about Which School for Special Needs 2012-13, see this earlier post. To order a copy, visit our bookshop.

New website lists current and former independent school pupils who have represented their country at sport August 13, 2012

Posted by Jonathan Barnes, editor in Independent Education.
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Throughout the Olympic Games, where our athletes went to school – and the quality of the physical education and sport they enjoyed (or not) – has been the subject of much debate and analysis.

Naturally, we were pleased to release a book, Physical Education and Sport in Independent Schools, on the eve of the Games that provides an excellent insight into sporting provision and achievement in independent schools.

We’ve now launched a website in conjunction with the book, which lists every former pupil of British independent schools who has represented their country at full senior international level in their chosen sport between 2000 and 2012.

You can see the table at www.peandsports.co.uk

Fully updated with members of Team GB 2012, and with a special reference to Olympians, the list features hundreds of athletes in sports from American football to weight-lifting.

While sports such as rowing, lacrosse, hockey, swimming, cricket and rugby union are well represented in the list, there are just seven footballers, including England stars Frank Lampard and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

This table will be kept up to date until the end of 2012. Schools, governing bodies of sport, and individual sportsmen and sportswomen who wish provide additional information or to correct errors should write to the editor at tozer.peandsport@gmail.com.

Physical Education and Sport in Independent Schools features contributions from Olympic champion Jonathan Edwards, Paralympic champion Baroness Grey-Thompson, the British Olympic Association’s director of elite performance Sir Clive Woodward and many more leading names in sport and education. For a full chapter list, click this link.

To order a copy of the book, go to our bookshop.

Book editor joins debate over Olympians’ education August 8, 2012

Posted by Jonathan Barnes, editor in Independent Education.
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As Great Britain’s athletes keep the medal count ticking over at this summer’s Olympic Games in London, much attention has focused on where our champions were educated.

Indeed, Lord Moynihan, chairman of the British Olympic Association, said it was “one of the worst statistics in British sport” that half of our Olympic gold medallists were educated at independent schools.

This has put Malcolm Tozer, editor of our new book Physical Education and Sport in Independent Schools, at the centre of the debate. The book, featuring contributions from Olympic heroes Jonathan Edwards and Baroness Grey-Thompson and the British Olympic Association’s director of elite performance Sir Clive Woodward, examines the past, present and future of PE teaching and sports provision in independent schools.

If you were looking for answers about why so many independent school pupils elevated themselves on to the 2012 podium, this 300-page book is an ideal place to start.

Malcolm has been quoted in national newspapers examining this topic and penned a piece for the current Times Educational Supplement, which you can read by clicking here.

Other contributors to the book have also written excellent articles on the link between education and the Olympic and Paralympic games. In the same edition of the TES, Baroness Grey-Thompson wrote this piece.

Today, Anthony Seldon, Master of Wellington College, writes in the Telegraph on how the Government needs to act to ensure that all youngsters have a shot at sporting glory. You can read his piece by clicking here. Anthony wrote a chapter in Physical Education and Sport in Independent Schools with his director of sport, Steve Shortland, entitled Are PE and Sport Fit for Purpose?

The debate is set to rumble on. And while all appear to be in agreement that state schools need to up their game in terms of teaching and sporting provision, it’s evident that physical education and sport in independent schools is thriving.

For more information about Physical Education and Sport in Independent Schools, including a full chapter list, see this earlier post.

And for a Q&A with Malcolm about how the book came together, click here.