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Ex-Paralympian issues warning over school sport for disabled pupils

28/05/2013 Kelly
A former Paralympian has warned MPs many disabled children are being left out of PE lessons, which is an issue that special needs teachers could potentially help to address.

Prior to her retirement in 2007, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson won 16 Paralympics medals in wheelchair racing and was in 2010 made a crossbench life peer of the House of Lords.

On Tuesday 21st May, she was called before the House of Commons Education Committee to discuss the extent to which the legacy of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games has been and will be delivered in the context of school sports.

Baroness Grey-Thompson told committee members that many mainstream schools do not know how to teach sport to disabled children.

She asserted: "Still an awful lot of disabled children are sent to the library because teachers don’t feel equipped or able, in many cases, to integrate them properly into lessons."

Furthermore, she claimed there are fewer disabled children participating in some sports than there were 30 years ago, citing wheelchair racing as an example of this.

Discussing sport more generally, Baroness Grey-Thompson said it was often not taken particularly seriously, but that in a tough economic climate, it could help to prevent obesity and reduce expenditure on welfare.

Having been recently overlooked for the role of chair of sports funding body Sport England, she stated that had she been appointed to the post, she would have prioritised training staff for sport teaching jobs, as well as increasing physical activity in schools.

When asked about these comments, the Department for Education told Sky News every child should participate in PE lessons and that the exclusion of disabled pupils from them was "inexcusable".

The department said some of the £150 million it is allocating to primary schools in September to help improve PE and sport provision could potentially be spent on appointing specialist help or sporting equipment for disabled children.

Posted by Theo FouldsADNFCR-2164-ID-801590682-ADNFCR
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