A SCARBOROUGH headteacher has defended his school’s sports day programme after scathing criticism which alleged pupils were allowed to sit out events.
Chris Knowles, headteacher at Newby and Scalby Primary School, dismissed an article in a national newspaper which said youngsters could opt out of sprints and sit on trackside mats to consume fizzy drinks.
The row, which included an outburst from an upset parent, further intensified after the story said the school’s egg and spoon race was replaced with a balancing event and pictures were banned to stop risk of being accessed by paedophiles.
However, Mr Knowles said all children had engaged with the physical activities on the day and he was disappointed the popular event had been tarnished by the allegations.
He said: “The school does not allow children to opt out of sports day, nor does it allow fizzy drinks to be consumed on site other than at school discos.
“Out of the hour and 15 minutes that each sports day lasted, only around 10 minutes were spent sat down.
“Having already taken part in over an hour of competition in 10 different disciplines, it is no surprise that a very small number of children chose not to run the final race.
“Most boys and girls ran in the highly competitive sprint race whereas none of the parents volunteered to race each other when given the option.
“With regards to the taking of pictures, the school does not allow photography at some events because we are required to protect the identities of some of our pupils for legal reasons.”
Mr Knowles said the school’s current sports day format had run for the last eight years, to the delight of pupils and parents. He said it was designed specifically to ensure youngsters had fun, and, crucially, were not having to sit around and wait for long periods of time for their respective events.
He added: “This year’s activities included the sack race, obstacle course and bean bag collect, all of which would be included in the traditional style of event, as well as seven other events that ensured that PE skills were extended to the full.
“Our year six pupils also designed activities that appeal to children and are then capable enough to adapt the events to meet the needs of a wide range of competitors, including reluctant adults.
“The school actively encourages all pupils to engage in sport. Everyone has represented the school in an inter-school activity before they leave and anyone living in the Scarborough area will know we have a very strong reputation for encouraging participation in PE and sport.”
Mr Knowles said the article, which appeared in yesterday’s Daily Mail, had left youngsters disappointed. The youngsters were now planning to put their feelings in writing to the paper’s chiefs.
He said: “When the children found out about the story, they couldn’t believe it and said it was nothing like the sports day they had taken part in.
“Three of the pupils are already writing letters to the editor of the newspaper because they are that upset about the story because there is not a semblance of truth in it.”
l On its website report the Daily Mail refers to “Scalby School in Newby” and used a photo of Scalby (comprehensive) School, not the primary school.