Labour MP for Walthamstow Stella Creasy is claiming that England’s football team is not performing as well as it could be because too many of the players on the team are privately-educated.
Because the state school system is not used to find players, Creasy believes that the team is not gaining as much talent as they could.
The comments were made by Creasy after another MP, John Redwood, compared those students who were found by talent scouts to become football players to those who were selected to attend grammar school at an early age. The MP noted that the scouting process offered life-changing opportunities for those selected by allowing potential football players to make the most of their skills. Redwood went on to say that football in particular was an area in which many players came from poorer backgrounds.
In response, Creasy argued that the low performance seen by England’s football team is the result of 13% of the players having attended private schooling. She went on to say that the statistic showed that too many poorer children were not given the opportunity to become a football player, reports Steve Hawkes for The Sun.
“Does the right honourable gentleman think that that might account for the performance of our national football team, and that we might be missing out on the talent that exists in the comprehensive sector? Does he not recognise that that is precisely the problem that we are discussing today? We are missing out on talent as a result of too narrow a focus,” said Creasy.
She found the statistic in a 2014 report on social mobility, the Social Mobility Commission’s Elitist Britain report, that had been put together by Alan Milburn, the former Labour health secretary. According to the report, 13% of the players on England’s national team attended independent schools, which Milburn said is “double the proportion of UK pupils attending these schools.” In comparison, 83% attended comprehensive schools, reports Laura Hughes for The Telegraph.
However, the comments made by Creasy resulted in a barrage of comments throughout social media, including on Twitter, criticizing her viewpoint. In addition, Redwood claimed she was being “obtuse,” reports Rowena Mason for The Telegraph.
Meanwhile, Redwood argued that he did not believe the team would become more skilled by “training them less, and no longer giving them any kind of elite education.”
Redwood went on to say that many people did not approve of selective grammar schools, arguing that it gave an unfair advantage to those who were selected to attend.
“When I asked the shadow secretary of state whether she was upset by the fact that our elite sports people have usually been selected at quite a young age for special training, special education, and that they are expected to achieve to a much higher level than the average and they are given training and made to do extra work in order to do so, and she didn’t seem at all upset by that in any way,” added Redwood.
Just two players on the current national team were enrolled in private schools. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was a student at St. John’s College in Portsmouth, while Theo Walcott came from The Downs School in Berkshire. Of the players who participated in the game against Spain recently, just one player, Eric Dier, did not attend a British state school. Dier instead was enrolled at the International Preparatory School in Lisbon.
Traditionally, rugby union and cricket are typically viewed as sports in which the majority of the players are from private schools.