Schools sports to get limited but continued funding


The government has had to rethink its policy on school sports funding, which was set to scrap  the £162m Schools Sports Partnership in England, after teachers and sports professionals mounted a strong campaign against the original decision. £65m will now be spread over three years, in place of the previous £162m a year, and will be available in 2011-12 and 2012-13.

More than 70 top British athletes wrote to Mr Cameron saying that ending the partnerships was ill-conceived and risked efforts to deliver a 'genuine legacy' from the 2012 London Olympics, in terms of encouraging sports participation.

Schools will now receive funding to allow PE teachers to further embed competitive sport in schools across the country and raise participation.

Every secondary school will receive funding up to the end of the academic year in 2013 to pay for one day a week of a PE teacher’s time to be spent out of the classroom, encouraging greater take-up of competitive sport in primary schools and securing a fixture network for schools to increase the amount of intra- and inter-school competition.

Lottery funding from Sport England will also be deployed to build a framework of competitions as part of the new School Games. Competitions for pupils with disabilities and SEN will be included at every level. All schools will be invited to compete against one another in district competitions, leading to county festivals of competitive sport, and even the chance of appearing in the first national finals in spring 2012 with events at the Olympic Stadium.

This approach, says the government, will mean that funding and support are there so that school sports partnerships can continue, if schools wish them to, in order to drive an increase in competitive sport.

Mr Gove said: "I want competitive sport to be at the centre of a truly rounded education that all schools offer. But this must be led by schools and parents, not by top-down policies from Whitehall.

"It's time to ensure what was best in school sport partnerships around the country is fully embedded and move forward to a system where schools and parents are delivering on sports with competition at the heart."

The Government will also:

  • revise the PE curriculum in our curriculum review to place a new emphasis on competitive sports
  • invite Dame Kelly Holmes to lead a network of sporting advocates to work with her in promoting school sport around the country and to encourage more young people to participate in sport
  • work through Sport England with the national governing bodies of individual sports to get more volunteer sports leaders and coaches into our schools to encourage wider participation
  • fund the Youth Sport Trust to expand the Young Ambassadors programme so that every secondary school, and some primary schools too, can appoint ambassadors in the run up to London 2012.

The Coalition Government’s new approach marks a departure from the previous strategy.

Previously, PE and Sports strategy was undermined by excessive bureaucracy, limiting the freedom of individual schools on how they used their funding, especially on sports and PE and lacked a proper emphasis on competitive team sports.

Mr Gove said: "I’m looking to PE teachers to embed sport and put more emphasis on competitions for more pupils in their own schools, and to continue to help the teachers in local primary schools do the same.

"The Government is clear that at the heart of our ambition is a traditional belief that competitive sport, when taught well, brings out the best in everyone, be they the Olympian of tomorrow or the child who wants to keep fit and have fun learning new sports and games."

Commenting on the package unveiled by the government, Andy Burnham, shadow education secretary, said: "we are still looking at the prospect of fewer children playing sport in the run up to the Olympics".

Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: "It is disappointing that the Coalition Government fails to recognise the huge success of School Sport Partnerships (SSP's).

"There is a great deal of talk about new directions, freedom and flexibility for school sport and of course the usual continual assertion that sports need to be competitive.   It is desperately sad that SSP's won't be funded from next September onwards. The 'further' £65 million announced will be spread over three financial years and falls far short of the £162 million annual ring-fenced funding needed to continue SSP's at current levels. 

"The Coalition Government is riding rough shod over a scheme which obviously worked effectively. We need to continue to oppose all cuts to services, including school sports, music and specialist services such as those to support the achievement of children and young people from minority ethnic backgrounds."

December 2010


School Leadership Today