By Toby Porter
A high profile co-educational private school has announced it will blaze a trail in staging mixed-gender sport.
St Dunstan’s College, Catford, London, has announced that from September 2021 it will move to gender-neutral games.
So all pupils, regardless of gender, will have access to all sports at the college throughout the school year, including in contact competition such as rugby.
Its board believes resources have previously been narrowly focused on a school’s highest-achieving top teams, competing against other schools.
Instead, it wants all pupils to be able to have access to enjoyable games.
Sport director Rebecca Watkins said: ‘Sport that falls within curriculum time must provide equal opportunities for all pupils and therefore every student will get access to rugby, netball, football, cricket, swimming and hockey.
“Gender cannot be a barrier to any individual getting access to a sport they love.”
Miss Watkins believes the new gender-neutral model will only enhance competitive sport.
“We will continue to promote our existing competitive programmes that we hold in such high regard,” she added.
“We believe that opportunity for all will not only support to our existing provision, it will continue to push it from strength to strength.”
Headmaster Nicholas Hewlett said he was delighted with the move that will ensure “equality for all”.
He added: “Traditional constructs of sport, sex and gender risk reinforcing stereotypes, and subconscious and conscious bias and prejudice.”
Assistant head cocurricular, Mr Daniel Gower, added: “We have been taking steps towards a more inclusive approach to sporting provision for the last six years, and afternoon games is the final hurdle.
“We all remember games lessons from our own school days, with those who are fortunate to represent teams benefitting from all of the time, resource and expertise, whilst the rest are left to fend for themselves.
“The sports played are dictated by gender. In the winter, boys play rugby whilst the girls play netball; boys playing cricket in the
summer whilst the girls are playing rounders.
“The sporting landscape has quite rightly changed, and schools have a responsibility to lead the way.
“The curriculum has to prioritise sport for all, with every child, regardless of ability and gender, benefitting from the same opportunities.
“Positive early experiences for the many, and not the just the few, lead to lifelong participation in sport and physical activity for all.”
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