Friday 10 August 2012

Letter 79: "Bottling the Volunteering Spirit" v Advice from the Olympians

"Dear Dave,
In a week that marks a year since the riots, it seems that everyone is talking not just about how well Team GB has done, but also about how we can nurture all the enthusiasm and goodwill brought by the Games. Things would not have run so smoothly had so many people not offered their time for free and today I heard that you, so impressed by their generosity, want to "bottle the volunteering spirit" and carry it forward. However, before you begin yet another relaunch of the Big Society (sixth, if I'm correct) might we stop and look at your own government's "Olympic Legacy"? These are the bald facts: having permitted Michael Gove to scrap the £160m School Sport Partnership Scheme, approved the sale of more than 20 schools playing-fields, removed the targets requiring all schoolchildren to take part in at least two hours of sport per week, you yourself then blamed state school teachers for a reduction in the number of hours dedicated to school sport. All your talk of keeping that Olympic spirit alive appears to be empty rhetoric. Your legacy currently appears to be a series of misjudged policies which will effectively squander the hopes of future athletes and benefits to schoolchildren in general. Why are you wasting the perfect opportunity to build on the fantastic achievements of people like Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah, Greg Rutherford, Andy Murray, Bradley Wiggins, Helen Glover and Victoria Pendleton - the athletes from state schools and role models to us all. Though it's commendable to want to inspire people, why do you talk of the Olympic spirit and competitiveness and yet offer no government funding? If you really seek a healthy, motivated, inclusive society where people live tolerantly and peaceably together, surely government funding and policy has to properly underpin it? And there is no point inspiring young people if you do not give them the resources to fullfil that ambition

That bottling of the volunteering spirit concerns me... wouldn't it be awful if, in your enthusiasm to save money and relaunch the Big Society, you failed to heed the very clear messages sent by the experts in the (sports) field?
Because I'd hate for you to go off on the wrong track, I'll repeat them for you : 

Laura Trott, (TWO cycling golds on her Olympics debut) :
“Funding is very important - it is the key to our sport, really. We would be lost without it.”
Chris Hoy : 
"Me and Jason Quealy, and some of the others, remember when it was run on a shoestring budget. It was very different, and we weren't anywhere near as successful."
Lord Moynihan, British Olympic Association Chairman : 
"It is right some (teachers) would not choose to stay on after school to teach sport but there are a lot that would...We need to give them the tools to do the job - the time and the facilities."
Darryl Seibel, spokesman for The British Olympic Association : 
“You have to have the funding to attract the best coaches, the best technology and the best team. So the money is not everything but it is an absolutely critical element."
Dame Kelly Holmes :
"my view for what it's worth: PE compulsory min 2 hours, Designated Primary school PE teachers and make stronger links between schools, communities & sport clubs."

With best wishes, etc"


Anonymous said...

Good stuff. He's a disingenious prat without a shred of insight. Pandering to the worst kind of populism without anything to back up his soundbites.

Let's get in aboot him.

Bern O'Donoghue said...

Thanks for commenting. The thing is, he seems to undo himself without help from any of us ....

John McCartney said...

Cameron - having made policy on the hoof - is probably now asking Gideon to sort out how his pals can make money from it. G4Sporting anyone?