Cricket in Schools

– in the House of Lords at 2:30 pm on 15 November 2005.

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Photo of Baroness Massey of Darwen Baroness Massey of Darwen Labour 2:30, 15 November 2005

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper. In doing so, I declare an interest as a Lady Taverner.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what strategies are in place to encourage the development of cricket in schools.

Photo of Lord Adonis Lord Adonis Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Schools), Department for Education and Skills, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education and Skills) (Schools)

My Lords, the latest school sports survey for 2004–05, covering 11,500 schools in new school sports partnerships, found that 69 per cent of pupils participated in at least two hours of PE or school sport a week, up 7 per cent on the year before, and 35 per cent took part in formal inter-school competitions. Cricket is one of the key sports within our £1.5 billion national school sports strategy. The survey found that 85 per cent of schools provided cricket, with 46 per cent of schools having links with a local cricket club.

Photo of Baroness Massey of Darwen Baroness Massey of Darwen Labour

My Lords, I thank the Minister for that positive reply. Does he agree that it is important to build on the success of both the women's and men's cricket teams against Australia this summer? Can he report on the progress of the "Chance to Shine" initiative aimed at developing cricket in state schools?

Photo of Lord Adonis Lord Adonis Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Schools), Department for Education and Skills, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education and Skills) (Schools)

My Lords, I believe that our team is building very rapidly on the success gained in the Ashes. The last I heard, we were 24 for one, needing only 174 to win tomorrow. Those may be famous last words, but it is looking good so far—no doubt thanks in part to my noble friend's encouragement.

We pay tribute to the "Chance to Shine" initiative launched by the ECB. It is a path-breaking initiative aimed at regenerating cricket in a third of state schools by 2015, starting with 100 clubs selected to reach out to 600 schools next season. We welcome the initiative very strongly indeed and we are giving it all the support that we can.

Photo of Baroness Buscombe Baroness Buscombe Spokespersons In the Lords, Education, Shadow Minister (Education)

My Lords, can the Minister say what contributions, both in finance and planning support, are made by local authorities towards the provision and maintenance of cricket pitches used for training juniors?

Photo of Lord Adonis Lord Adonis Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Schools), Department for Education and Skills, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education and Skills) (Schools)

My Lords, I cannot answer specifically in respect of cricket pitches and I shall reply to the noble Baroness in writing. As to sport pitches and playing fields at large, as she knows, there has been a dramatic decline in the sale or conversion of sports fields, which of course include cricket pitches. Indeed, only five applications have been received this year for any change of use. Last year there were 13, of which only 11 were approved, and none, bar one, involved any loss of sports facilities. So we have been on the case very much indeed.

Photo of Lord Hoyle Lord Hoyle Labour

My Lords, my noble friend referred to 46 per cent of schools working with clubs. Does he agree that not many state schools provide cricket pitches and that it is absolutely necessary to work with clubs, where youngsters will be able to play on decent pitches and coaching strips which will ensure their safety when they are playing the game?

Photo of Lord Adonis Lord Adonis Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Schools), Department for Education and Skills, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education and Skills) (Schools)

My Lords, I agree with my noble friend that we need better facilities for pupils where cricket pitches are not available in their own vicinity. That is why we believe that local authorities also have a role. I am glad to say that the latest figures, published by the DCMS in July, show that the number of playing fields at large in the country has risen. This will be encouraging news for cricket too.

Photo of Lord Addington Lord Addington Spokesperson in the Lords (Sport), Culture, Media & Sport, Spokesperson in the Lords (Disability), Work & Pensions, Deputy Chief Whip, People With Disabilities, Non-Departmental & Cross Departmental Responsibilities

My Lords, although encouraging a few school cricket teams is a good thing, does the Minister agree that it is important that everyone should get the chance to try one of our national sports to see whether they have any aptitude for it? This would ensure that there are genuinely enthusiastic people at all schools as opposed to going back to having a few hot-houses. It would be much healthier for cricket and for any sport.

Photo of Lord Adonis Lord Adonis Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Schools), Department for Education and Skills, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education and Skills) (Schools)

My Lords, I entirely agree with the noble Lord, which is why our policy on school sport is for all pupils to participate in at least two hours of high-quality PE and school sport each week. That is the target we have to meet by next year and we are already substantially on the way to meeting it.

Photo of Baroness Howe of Idlicote Baroness Howe of Idlicote Crossbench

My Lords, I emphasise the point of the noble Baroness, Lady Massey, about women's and girls' cricket; I played at school and have retained an interest throughout my life. To what extent could volunteers—people with a lot of enthusiasm—be enrolled to play a part in cricket coaching within schools and clubs?

Photo of Lord Adonis Lord Adonis Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Schools), Department for Education and Skills, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education and Skills) (Schools)

My Lords, the England and Wales Cricket Board has a number of initiatives for enlisting volunteers in cricket in schools, including activities such as Kwik Cricket, HOWZAT!—a teaching and learning programme—and the Pride Side, which aims to encourage children aged six and upwards to have an interest in cricket. In secondary schools, Inter Cricket and a county cricket programme for disabled players have also been set up with substantial funding. The ECB is on the case, but there is always more to be done.

Photo of Lord Renton Lord Renton Conservative

My Lords, I encourage the Government to give even more support to the development of cricket than they have already shown. Internationally, cricket has done much to reconcile different countries which have traditionally been opposed to each other in various ways; playing cricket has made them more understanding and more civilised.

Photo of Lord Adonis Lord Adonis Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Schools), Department for Education and Skills, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education and Skills) (Schools)

My Lords, the noble Lord makes an important point. Cricket plays a very important international role, not least within the Commonwealth. We pay tribute to the other Commonwealth countries which take a leading role.

Photo of Lord Paul Lord Paul Labour

My Lords, first, I declare an interest as vice-president of the "Chance to Shine" campaign. We have got off to a very good start, with £8 million pledged already, and we look forward to the Government's support. In times when a culture of respect is paramount and when communities are often more divided than united, do the Government recognise the importance of giving young people at school opportunities to engage in team sports played in competition to promote integration and respect?

Photo of Lord Adonis Lord Adonis Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Schools), Department for Education and Skills, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education and Skills) (Schools)

My Lords, I entirely agree with my noble friend; I pay tribute to him and to the work that all his colleagues in the ECB do to take forward the "Chance to Shine" initiative. We believe it is very important. It is supported on all sides of the House, with a number of noble Lords playing a leading part, and we are very grateful for it.

Photo of Lord Mackie of Benshie Lord Mackie of Benshie Liberal Democrat

My Lords, the Minister was rather complacent about the fall in the number of playing grounds for sale. Is that because most of them have already been sold?

Photo of Lord Adonis Lord Adonis Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Schools), Department for Education and Skills, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education and Skills) (Schools)

Not at all, my Lords. If the noble Lord were to visit our schools, he would see that the playing fields and sports facilities at large are in a flourishing state.

Photo of Lord Imbert Lord Imbert Crossbench

My Lords, will the Minister assure the House that any encouragement for schools will be extended to those of 16 to 18 years of age as well? I declare an interest as a former chairman and trustee of the Surrey County Cricket Club Youth Trust. It provides indoor cricket schools for youngsters, both boys and girls, acknowledging that the latter-day Curtly Ambrose or Freddie Flintoff may be living on the 15th floor of a rundown block of flats in south London or Manchester. Something must be done to ensure that they can extend their talents and put their energies into something constructive and honourable, such as cricket, rather than roaming the streets.

Photo of Lord Adonis Lord Adonis Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Schools), Department for Education and Skills, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education and Skills) (Schools)

My Lords, I agree with the noble Lord. It is precisely for young people such as those that the "Chance to Shine" initiative has been developed.