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Volume 549: debated on Monday 3 September 2012

Sport should be a central part of any school. Great schools know that sporting and cultural opportunities go hand in hand with high academic standards. We are introducing a revised programme of study for physical education with a greater focus on competitive sport. We are also encouraging more schools to sign up for the highly successful school games. We will make a statement about further measures shortly.

I thank my right hon. Friend for that energetic answer. Does he agree that the Government need to focus on improving competition in school sport to counter the culture that existed under the previous Labour Government whereby teachers sought to reward all competitors for fear of dividing children into winners and losers? [Interruption.]

Judging by the reaction from the Labour Benches, that question was, to use a fencing term, a palpable hit. I agree that it is important that we support the growth of competitive and team sports in all our schools. One of the things I have been most impressed by when visiting state schools is the way so many of them are using academy freedoms to provide not only greater facilities but more sporting opportunities for our young people.

Will the right hon. Gentleman make it a requirement that free schools provide sport in the way he has just described?

Free schools are already doing a fantastic job in providing that opportunity—[Interruption.] The hon. Gentleman, having missing the penalty the first time, is trying to come back, put the ball on the spot and have another go. The whole point is that free schools are doing a superb job in providing great sporting facilities, and the reason for that is that they are free of the sort of centralist interference that old socialists like him, in their sweet but frankly out-of-touch way, are still nostalgic for.