Chalk Talk: A more level playing field in school sports


I have been wanting to say this all winter: at last, some good news from the world of English cricket! Chance to Shine, the charity that promotes cricket in state schools, has just announced that its efforts to bring the game to the attention of girls have resulted in the millionth girl being signed up to play the sport.

The picture contrasts with a decade ago, when cricket was declining in state schools, with fewer than 10 per cent of them offering the sport – and it not being on the menu at all for most girls. Now, more than two million young people have been introduced to the sport – 46 per cent of them girls.

Charlotte Edwards, captain of the England women's cricket team, describes the charity's efforts as a "fantastic achievement". Just quoting her makes me realise I should have modified that statement in my opening paragraph. After all, the women's team did retain The Ashes in Australia this winter. Perhaps it's time for a change of allegiance.

The thorny topic of regional pay for teachers reared its head at a recent seminar organised by the Westminster Education Forum. Ministers, you may remember, were much in favour of the idea a couple of years ago.

Grist to their mill, therefore, would have come from evidence given by senior civil servant Marcus Bell to the assembled hordes. It would take a teacher in Wales just three years to earn enough to buy a three-bedroomed house at around the average price for the area – whereas a teacher in Kensington and Chelsea would take 246 years, he told the conference.

Surely, therefore, the London teacher deserves more money. (Or is the message that people are trying to get across that the Welsh teacher deserves less?)

Meanwhile, conference organisers, in an attempt to make Bell feel at home in what could be an uncomfortable atmosphere due to opposition from teachers to the Government's school reforms told him: "We don't shoot the messenger."

"You might not," replied Bell.