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Government announces school sport grants
5:00am Saturday 16th March 2013 in News
EVERY primary school will receive an annual grant of around £10,000 to revive sports coaching - three years after the government controversially axed a similar scheme.
David Cameron said the move – worth £150m a year across England – would “inspire the Olympic and Paralympic stars of the future”, following the triumph of the London games.
The ring-fenced cash would pay for every pupil to take part in sport with a PE teacher or a specialist coach, the prime minister pledged.
But Labour was quick to point that ministers had scrapped a similar scheme – the £162m a-year School Sport Partnerships (SSPs) – in 2010, triggering huge criticism.
The SSPs paid for PE teachers to co-ordinate sports tuition and inter-school events and for smaller primaries, without specialist sports teachers, to share staff.
But funding was slashed by 60 per cent and will run out completely this summer - despite promises that the Olympics would "inspire a generation of young people through sport".
As a result, the total number of days PE teachers are released across the North-East and North Yorkshire plunged by 54 per cent, local authority figures revealed last year.
One of the steepest falls was in Darlington - from 17 days a week, to just six. In North Yorkshire, Hartlepool and Middlesbrough, the number of release days halved.
Teachers then reacted with fury when Mr Cameron blamed a lack of “competitive ethos” in schools – rather than cuts – for the decline in school sport.
Yesterday (Friday, March 15), Stephen Twigg, Labour’s education spokesman, said: “The Government scrapped the £162m Labour put in place for School Sports Partnerships – despite the protests of parents, schools and athletes.
“The Olympic legacy is still at risk, because the Government has got rid of the requirement that pupils get two hours of sport or PE a week and watered down the rules protecting playing fields.”
But Mr Cameron said: “With this new approach to sport, we can create a culture in our schools that encourages all children to be active and enjoy sport - and helps foster the aspirations of future Olympians and Paralympians.”
Funding will vary with the size of the school, so those with 17 or more primary-aged pupils will receive a lump sum of £8,000, plus a premium of £5 per pupil.
Smaller schools will receive the sum of £500 per pupil. A typical primary, with 250 primary aged pupils, would receive £9,250 per year, No.10 said.
Olympic champions Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis, plus Lord Coe, the London 2012 chairman, all gave the new school sport strategy their support.
Mr Farah, the 5,000m and 10,000m gold medalist, said: "It is great to see a commitment to funding school sport and that it is something I passionately believe in.”
And heptathlete Ms Ennis said: "This latest funding for primary schools sounds fantastic - so many of them have no funds for PE.”
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