Schools 'failing to spot potential sports stars'

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The Independent Online

Schools in England are failing to spot the sporting stars of the future, with the talents of under-achieving pupils going unnoticed, the education watchdog Ofsted said yesterday.

Schools in England are failing to spot the sporting stars of the future, with the talents of under-achieving pupils going unnoticed, the education watchdog Ofsted said yesterday.

David Bell, the chief inspector of schools in England, criticised specialist sports colleges, saying they must get better at identifying young people who have the talent to become international sports stars.

Although schools were good at coaching students who were already outstanding athletes, they often failed to identify pupils who had hidden sporting talent but were under-achieving, inspectors found.

Ofsted inspectors called on schools and the Government to improve their talent-spotting methods and urged teachers to do more to help under-achieving pupils.

Good schools organised plenty of sports sessions, had strong links with local clubs, held diet and nutrition workshops and helped pupils organise their homework schedules around the demands of training and competitions, the inspectors said. They concluded that while just over half the specialist sports colleges they visited were good at identifying high performers, few were good at nurturing under-achievers.

Most schools assessed their pupils in terms of the school, regional and national standards. But only a few "fine-tuned" their approach to enable PE teachers to spot the rough diamonds. Their criteria included looking for good spatial awareness and body management.

The Government has set a target for three out of four pupils to spend at least two hours a week playing sport by 2006.

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