Journalist and Writer
Hilary Wilce specialising in all aspects of education
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The Quandary - 26 Feb 2009

Can cricket be used to raise school standards? Or is this just another education gimmick? Iím not a cricket fan.

Hillary's Advice

Itís a gimmick. In fact it is probably about the millioneth curriculum gimmick Iíve come across in my history as an education reporter and they always fall into two categories: either a bid to make children more interested in learning by building lessons around things they like; or a bid to make children more interested in something they donít like by forcing them to do lessons around it.

This is definitely in the second category, although Ed Balls, the Education Secretary, has dressed it up in higher ambitions. He appears to believe that if children are given lessons on, say, the maths of off-spin or the history how cricket shaped Victorian identity this will help raise school standards.

But the way to raise school standards is to put well trained, well supported, well paid teachers in the classroom, and Balls should stop running around throwing his weight behind gimmicks and concentrate on the matter in hand.

The same goes for cricket itself. If the English Cricket Board wants to boost the take-up of the game among schoolchildren, then let it find more ways of putting superb and inspiring cricket coaches in front of pupils so that they can experience the joy of the game itself. Cricket develops co-ordination, balance, team-work and tactics, and many children would probably reap benefits from learning it. And, who knows, if cricket makes them alert and better coordinated, they might even start to start to learn better in the classroom -- especially if they have the great teachers teaching them when they get there.