GIVING CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE A SPORTING CHANCE: A DRAFT STRATEGY FOR SCOTLAND

The Scottish Parliament

On December the 9th 2013 the Scottish Government launched its consultation paper looking for comments and suggestion on the future of youth sport in Scotland.

You can find the consultation paper here:

http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2013/12/8921

The paper asks for comment on fifteen questions, my responses are below:

CONSULTATION QUESTIONS

Vision

 The draft Strategy sets the following vision:

We want Scotland to be the best place in the world to grow up actively.

Q1          Is this the right vision for Scotland?

Yes / No

Comments:

I suggest we modify the vision to state:

 We aspire to make Scotland one of the places in the world to grow up actively.

Q2          Does the draft Strategy provide the right framework to achieve this vision?

Yes / No

Comments:

This is not really a Strategy – it is more a paper of aspiration.

Community and School Sport are essentially about the “extended families” of schools and clubs. Both of these (i.e. Schools and clubs) require to be seriously nourished. As soon as possible across the whole country. Only then will we be able to effectively support the disadvantaged, the disabled, and the disaffected.

 The local authorities should normally lead this support. It may require change in legislation concerning

  • The length of the school day
  • The provision of capital support for clubs.

It is a very serious concern that with local authorities currently under so much strain, the political commitment and leadership at local level is so frequently absent.

Q3          How does/could you/your organisation contribute towards achieving the vision?

Comments:

Formerly as a Physical Education adviser, then later a local authority sports manager.

But also as a club volunteer for more than 40 years. As an activist – Chair of the Scottish Schoolsport Federation for 18 years.

I am a member of the International School Sport Federation Executive – seeking to be re-elected in June.

Great opportunities

Young people told us that they want opportunities to be involved in sport in a range of ways: opportunities to learn; opportunities to have a go; opportunities to develop; opportunities to take part in events and competitions; opportunities to lead; and opportunities to celebrate sport and attend significant sporting events.

Q4          How can we build on the existing opportunities?

Comments:

  1. Ask local authorities to recognise and support the sports clubs in their community. Find ways to improve their facility access and associated costs. Support the development and training of the volunteers. Find ways to give clubs a home – for meetings, to socialise.
  2. Engage with the education establishment about school sport and the extended curriculum. It needs the voice of volunteers to be heard. Ensure that all after school opportunities after\out of school (i.e. sport, music, hobbies) are treated fairly and evenly. It may require a staffing support formula to facilitate. It is important to recognise the challenges of actually teaching/coaching and competing/performing.
  3. Establish an independent research organisation, that gathers the intelligence to inform development of sport, both universally in Scotland and locally in each neighbourhood

Q5         Are there other opportunities, which should be considered to encourage children and young people to participate in sport?

Yes / No

Comments:

The potentially very big worlds of community physical recreation, where individuals participate on an informal basis. From aerobics to wheeled sports to gyms.

And very importantly the outdoor world – particularly in Scotland.

Great people

We agree with young people that to achieve our vision we need to develop and support leaders and workers who are committed, capable and confident.

Q6         How can we build on what we already do to develop and support leaders and workers to provide high quality experiences for children and young people?

Comments:

  • Coaches in clubs – ideally through a training system linked to their clubs. Thought should be given to schemes that support the training of young people aged 17 years and over – at this age young people potentially have the time and flexibility to coach.
  • Teachers who coach after school. They need to be recognised. Even given sometime off stage during the day to assist them to take the children after school time. Need to ensure these opportunities for children and young people include competition and performance – NOT SIMPLY CLASSES RUN AFTER SCHOOL!
  • Costs of courses. Authorities should support these.
  • The corporate world could be given a major role in the delivery of the generic courses needed to develop the skills to manage clubs.
  • School staff, and indeed club volunteers need to be encouraged to give time for meetings with parents and with clubs – and indeed to be reflective in their approaches.

Q7         Are there sufficient opportunities for leaders and workers to develop the right skills?

Yes / No

Comments:

As in Q6, but also attempt to evolve school and club policies and practices, which develop the young, people themselves alongside or as an essential part of the school or club experience. This need not be always the province of some non-sport community worker. Rather – that as many leaders, coaches and teachers and engaged in supporting a climate of family.

Q8          How can more people be encouraged to become leaders and workers?

Comments:

Mostly by each school or community club recruiting and developing the volunteers. They need to develop with policies and practices – such as a post of volunteers’ coordinator, special meetings when families arrive at the school or club, annual reviews and recruitment policies.

The Extended Curriculum of schools should encompass all the opportunities offered from sport to music. Some staffing element should be identified to recognise the volunteers. Maybe celebrate once a year.

Clubs need to be encouraged to establish clubrooms for their meetings and for a club social programme.

This having been said it is important that clubs and schools offer progressive quality coaching and exciting and appropriate competitive opportunities.

Great Places

We agree with young people that as well as great people we need great places to be active.  We aim to ensure that children and young people have a more accessible network of places where they can take part in sport and physical activity and that those places better meet their needs and expectations.

Q9          How can we build on the current use of facilities in schools and communities and ensure they are welcoming environments for children and young people?

Comments:

  •  Provide clubrooms in schools and sports facilities.
  •  Support and develop the management self-management of facilities by clubs and communities.
  •  Develop neighbourhood and authority – wide facility strategies.
  •  Drive down the cost of hiring facilities by properly constitutes community sports clubs.
  •  Consider operating the management of schools by special facility management teams – who take over the responsibility from head teachers
  •  Break up very large leisure trusts, and establish small trusts that manage ½ facilities.
  •  Local Sport policies – the policy role should return to local authorities
  • Find ways to change any PPP or PFI contracts that prevent use of sports facilities by the local communities.

Q10      Are there any areas where improvements could be made to encourage children and young people to participate in sport?

Yes / No

Comments:

It is important to find ways to make things very cost efficient of time and of money.

Ideas:

  • Extending the school day for an hour – and consequently adjusting teachers contracts
  • Ensuring that all coaches /teachers and volunteers listen to the young people.
  • Individual sports – could be approached in schools on a team basis ( viz. similar to US universities where you compete to score points for your team)
  • Develop self confidence and networking as an essential part of sports participation
  • Consider ways of giving more residential experiences for young people
  • Adapt of competitive systems to facilitate events for all levels of ability

Higher profile

The final ingredient to achieving success is ensuring that the talents and success of young people will be celebrated and communicated. We should see, hear and read more about children and young people’s sport in their communities and about people who have come from their communities who now compete on the world stage.

Q11          Do you hear or read enough about sport and sporting opportunities for children and young people in your local community?

Yes / No

Comments:

Use social media. Perhaps led by local authorities and taken up by schools and clubs.

Q12       How can the profile of youth sport be improved locally and nationally?

Comments:

  • School sport  – needs forum for those directly involved- locally and nationally.
  • Care needs to be taken that this is confined to those involved. Many teachers and sports governing bodies are not involved in school sport.
  • Community clubs should try to appoint media officers in the club.
  • Local media outlets should be encouraged to include as much local sports information.

General

Q13       Please give any additional views you have on any aspect of the draft Strategy.

Comments:

Concern that sport is considered simply an extension of the physical activity strategy. Rather than as part of civic society development – where sport offers opportunities to express/compete, to learn the skills, to belong to extended families.

Major political challenges surround the responsibilities of local authorities. Community Empowerment should be a responsibility of local government.

The Draft Strategy appears to use Scottish Government, and SportScotland funded projects to demonstrate good practice. With 13000 sports clubs, many local authorities, and volunteer teachers and coaches – much more needs to be done to recognise and listen to and from these sectors.

Q14          We would welcome your views on how sport can be made inclusive for all children and young people.

  • Better supportive training for teachers in schools.
  • Strengthening the 13000 clubs to be more inclusive, and more sustainable.
  • Consider clubs, where possible, for life. Not just for young people.
  •  Encourage clubs to offer satellite centres in areas of deprivation.

Q15         We would also welcome your views regarding the impact that the draft Strategy may have on business or the third sector.

Comments:

 Corporate world – there is a serious need to engage with the corporate world to consider community sport in general.

 The Strategy at present is far too weak.

 The third sector is too often only ascribed to the funded national organisations. But real volunteers – who need to be supported and listened to, largely run sport.

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