More sport urged for pupils
Friday 20th September 2013, 10:40AM BST.
State primary schools should offer more sport to help stop children from becoming obese, a leading headteacher has said.
Eddy Newton suggested that the state sector could “take a leaf” out of prep schools’ books and provide their pupils with more sporting activities.
He said that pupils at his prep school, Chafyn Grove in Salisbury which educates three to 13-year-olds, take part in four hours of timetabled sport a week by the time they are 10, with some youngsters doing another four hours in their own time.
Mr Newton, who is the new chairman of the Independent Association of Prep Schools (IAPS), which meets for its annual conference next week, said private prep schools keep pupils healthy by sitting down for cooked meals at lunch time and offering plenty of sport.
He told the Times Educational Supplement (TES): “With the rise in obesity and the health problems it causes, there’s a real danger that children will grow up to die before their parents.
“It’s a real shame for children if they have become overweight at six, seven or eight.”
Mr Newton added: “I don’t want to sound smug, but it is a huge shame that state primary schools cannot do more sport. It would be great if they could take a leaf out of prep schools’ book.”
He said that that prep schools are willing to help state primaries by lending their sporting facilities, setting up clubs and training teachers.
And he insisted that the focus on sport in the private sector was not about them having more money than state schools, arguing that often, prep schools do not have big enough surpluses to build impressive facilities, the TES reported.
“It is about attitude as well,” Mr Newton said.
“In my first prep school we walked a mile to play rugby on a pitch with no marked lines. The walk was not seen as an obstacle.”
Mr Newton’s comments come just days after Deputy Prime Minister and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg announced plans to offer every five to seven-year-old in England’s state infant schools free school meals.
The £600 million initiative follows a study produced for the government earlier this year which showed the move would have considerable health and academic benefits.
Separate research published in the online journal BMJ Open last month found that h alf of all seven-year-olds do not get enough exercise – and girls are far less active than boys.
Only 51% of all seven-year-olds in the UK achieve the recommended hour of exercise every day, it said, with the figure being just 38% in girls compared with 63% in boys.