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SCHOOLS' SPORTS SHOCK

There has been widespread dismay at the news that the government has decided to cut the £162m annual funding for school sport as part of its recent comprehensive spending review.

The Guardian quotes critics as saying: “It will be ruinous for pupils’ involvement in physical activity, worsen the childhood obesity epidemic and dishonour the ambitious pledges the UK made about combating children’s increasingly sedentary lifestyles to help London win the right to stage the Olympic Games in 2012.”

Funding will stop in March 2011, leaving the future unclear for the 3,200 schools sports coordinators and the 18,000 Primary link teachers, who represent each of the State schools in England. There was disbelief across the sector as teachers struggled to reconcile Michael Gove’s call for schools to encourage more competitive sports whilst killing off the School Sports Partnerships (SSPs) – which have largely been responsible for any recent improvement in the attitude to sport in schools. The teachers will keep their jobs but the 674 core staff who run England’s 450 SSPs will no doubt lose theirs.

Dennis Campbell, in The Guardian article, quotes the National Obesity Forum spokesman, Tam Fry: “The SSP programme began to deliver the one hour of real term-time activity a day that every child needs. To consider scrapping it now is sheer lunacy. If axed, the coalition will have wasted the millions invested in sport over the last decade and reneged on the UK’s Olympic bid commitment that sport would be the lasting legacy of the 2012 Games.” Instead, the coalition will support competitive sports by providing £10 million of Lottery money to fund an Olympic style school championship, an idea initially championed by Gordon Brown.

There was some good news for sports recently as the Aviva Premiership Rugby Schools Programme, which has made a £2 million investment into the grassroots of the game, has put funding in place to underwrite 15,000 man hours of coaching. Reports The Guardian: “The hands-on coaching will reach out to more than 36,000 pupils aged between nine and 11 at 600 primary schools in England over the next four seasons. Teachers will also be instructed in the basics of rugby coaching.”