Scotland’s universities could hold the key to opening the nation’s school sporting estate according to Professor Grant Jarvie.
Professor Jarvie, Deputy Principal at the University of Stirling believes the university model – with sports facilities open extended hours each day and available for community use – could be adopted by schools.
Such an approach could, according to Professor Jarvie, benefit local communities and build upon sportscotland’s investment in Active Schools Co-ordinators.
“My own University was one of the first Universities to open its doors to the community and two out of every three users are community users,” explained Professor Jarvie, who was instrumental in establishing Stirling as Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence.
“Scottish Universities make a tremendous contribution to Scottish and UK sport and they are part of the educational and sporting landscape in the UK, providing and managing some of the best sporting facilities in the country, which in some cases are open from early morning long into the night.
“This is just one part of the educational estate and it would be great if the same opening hours could be achieved at school facilities across the country.
“There are many examples of dual use of school sports facilities, but it is far from uniform and where major investment is being made such as into the Active Schools Co-ordinator programme, it seems sensible to maximise every opportunity to give people access to local facilities.”
Professor Jarvie features in the Sport Nation televised national debate on the future of Scottish sport, which is broadcast tonight (Tuesday 5 April) on BBC2 Scotland at 7pm.
Stirling’s campus is home to the sportscotland institute of sport and national centres in many sports, while the University runs a highly successful International Sports Scholarship Programme whose alumni include golfer Catriona Matthew and 2010 Commonwealth Games tennis gold medalist Colin Fleming.
All its sport facilities, including a 50m swimming pool, pictured, and a golf course, are shared by performance athletes, students and members of the local community.
Professor Jarvie added: “Opening up the educational estate has wider social benefits, but buildings in themselves are not the answer. It is essential to establish not just the facility, but the correct environment, with the right people and passion in place.
“In a joined-up Scotland, sport and education need to continue to talk to each other because they both have much to offer.”