- Physical Education and Sport in Independent Schools ed. by M. D. W. Tozer
The purpose of this interesting collection of essays is to provide descriptive and analytical evidence about the current place, role, and impact of physical education and sport in Britain’s independent schools. The thirty-three broad-ranging if occasionally quirky essays that make up this collection are arranged in five sections. In the first section, Tozer provides both background to the collection’s structure and a very brief historical overview of the development of both physical education and sport in Britain’s independent schools from 1800 onward. Often implicit in Tozer’s overview and, as importantly, often implicit throughout the collection are the themes of gender and class and the issue of differential resources, both financial and human, when comparing the experiences of girls and boys in these schools. And, as important, too little is made of the comparison between the experiences of the 7 percent of UK pupils who attend these schools with those of the 93 percent who attend state schools to provide a richer context for the collection. Thus, when a 1974 survey titled Physical Education in Secondary Schools compared the provision of physical education in state and independent schools, the time allocated in independent schools was four times that in state schools. By the same token, a 2006 report found that independent school children spent twice as much time playing sport as state-school children. As is well documented in a number of the chapters in this volume, it is not just time differences but also the breadth of sporting opportunities and the financial and human resources provided to independent school students that are significantly greater than those opportunities and resources available to state-school students. Again, further analysis would have provided more context for the essays in sections 3 and 4.
With this as background, the second section describes in detail the state of play of both physical education and sport in independent schools across the primary and secondary levels. Again, what is striking in each of the eight chapters in this section is the quantity and type of resources, both human and financial, and the number and range of opportunities that are available in these institutions to provide both elite sport and “sport for all” for those who can afford the price of admission.
The third section addresses the issue of the lasting benefits of sport. In many ways, this is the most significant part of the book since it provides a wide-ranging look at important perceived benefits of physical education and sport, as well as confronting issues relating to the appropriate provision of sport, civility in sport, youth development in and through [End Page 459] sport, motivation and team success, careers in sport, and national success in sport. What we learn from this section is how the independent schools are addressing these mainstream sporting issues. Again, what we do not see explicitly is how this compares to approaches to these issues in state-funded schools.
This section also provides useful background for the fourth section, “Talking Points,” which offers a further set of interesting and informative chapters addressing some rather more contentious issues within these schools, such as the place of sport in the overall curriculum, the role of adventure sports, the role of coaching and the coach, managing sporting excellence, sport and sexuality, and sport for the disabled. All these chapters are thoughtful; many are thought provoking, and a number raise issues unique to these institutions and address some of the most pressing and special concerns facing those responsible for sport and physical education in UK independent schools today.
One of those concerns is in regard to the use of sport by independent schools as a means of differentiating themselves from other independent schools—referred to as “the schools’ equivalent of the ‘arms race’” (218). The contribution that sport can make to the reputation of a school has long been recognized. It seems that...