Spoilsport: on sport and attainment

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This short report arose out of a systematic review of the research evidence on the links between pupils’ participation in sport and levels of attainment. It outlines the key components of the review process, and offers a critique of the research evidence in this area. More fundamentally, it questions the emphasis on the utility, rather than upon the intrinsic value, of sport that formed the background to the review. It also maps changes in school sport provision, and examines the social and political implications of these. The developments reviewed included an emphasis on school-aged sport, rather than on school sport (or school-based sport); and the ascendancy of adult-organized sport as opposed to self-organized play. On the basis of the available evidence, it is argued that an essentially utilitarian view of sport and physical activity ultimately weakens rather than strengthens the case for sport in schools, and raises fundamental questions about the balance of the curriculum and priorities in the early years.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-189
JournalEducational Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes


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