Academic paper says one-third of medals at last four Olympics were won by privately-educated athletes

In an article in the Telegraph, 20/08/13, Gareth Davies reports on Dr Malcolm Tozer's book ‘Physical Education and Sport in Independent Schools’ which reveals that one-third of the medals awarded at the past four Olympic Games were won by athletes who had been educated at independent schools.

The record at Sydney was 32.7 per cent, Athens 26.6 per cent, Beijing 37.7 per cent and London 37.5 per cent. It will become essential reading for headteachers, directors of sport, PE teachers and sports coaches. It is particularly poignant as the UK discusses the grassroots legacy from the 2012 Olympic Games.

Tozer, a former physical education teacher at Uppingham School and headmaster at Northamptonshire Grammar School and Wellow House School, argues that the impact independent schools have had creates a template to be adopted nationally for how sport ought to be rationalised.

Tozer’s theorising is clear and concise. On the day that Team GB’s first gold medals of the 2012 London Olympics were won by a pair of privately-educated rowers, Lord Moynihan, the British Olympic Association chairman, stirred up a controversy by announcing: “It is one of the worst statistics in British sport, and wholly unacceptable, that over 50 per cent of our medallists in Beijing [at the 2008 Olympic Games] came from independent schools, which means that half of our medals came from just seven per cent of the children in the UK.”

UK Sport and Olympics bosses had already admitted privately that they expected more than a third of athletes in the 500-strong Team GB for the London Games to have been educated at independent schools.”

“Neither fear was realised – whether at the London Olympic Games or earlier at Sydney, Athens or Beijing. So was it a fuss about nothing? No – but the wrong questions had been asked,” Tozer explains in his report.

“Sportsmen and sportswomen educated at independent schools were over-represented at the sharp end of competition. They were twice as likely to reach the top eight in their best event and, once there, twice as likely to win medals.”

His paper provides all the facts – independent schools versus state schools, men versus women, day schools versus boarding schools, and poses leading questions for those responsible for the Olympic legacy – whether the new National Curriculum for PE, the current Ofsted enquiry on school sport, the role of after-school activities, the contribution of teachers and coaches, and the re-assessment of the role of the Youth Sport Trust.

Click here to read the article © Telegraph.