Why haven’t Olympic mascots visited any Hackney schools?

Head teachers told they will have to pay �850 to book them

Not one school in Hackney has received a visit from the official Olympic mascots since they were launched in May 2010, it emerged this week.

Wenlock and Mandeville arrived in cinemas across the country on Friday in their new film Rainbow Rescue.

Fifty schools across the capital have so far welcomed the pair – but none in Hackney. This comes despite 90 per cent of schools being eligible for a free visit through the London 2012 Organising Committee’s (LOCOG) Get Set Network, allocated in a monthly draw.


Otherwise schools must join forces and pay �850 to hire the characters.

“Normally we wouldn’t even consider spending �850 on something like this,” said Emma Penzer, head teacher of Mandeville Primary School, just metres from the Olympic Park.

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“But because our name is Mandeville and because this is once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the children, we have thought about it.

“We had hoped for a free visit, of course, but we haven’t won the draw.”

Laura Lloyd, Olympics co-ordinator for Daubeney Primary School in Lower Clapton, said: “It upsets me to be honest. It is just something that I thought we would get automatically.”

The mascots were launched at a Whitechapel school and have since visited three schools in Tower Hamlets, one in Newham and one in Greenwich.

Andrew Boff, London Assembly Conservative spokesman on the Olympics, said it appeared Hackney schools were not getting their “fair share” and he would raise the issue.

A spokeswoman for LOCOG said it was committed to ensuring that young people benefit from the Games.

“Our priority is and has always been to make mascot visits available free to schools through initiatives and competitions through the London 2012 education programme Get Set, and Wenlock and Mandeville have already visited many schools for free in every nation and region across the UK.”

She added that LOCOG did not encourage schools to hire the mascots, “but where several schools in partnership have requested a visit from a mascot to a community-based event we have made them available at cost price”.

Mayor of Hackney Jules Pipe declined to comment. However, a council spokeswoman said it was committed to ensuring young people benefit from the Games.