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Warning over school sports funding

The Government must adopt a long-term approach to funding school sports or risk failing to secure an Olympic legacy, MPs have warned.

The cross-party Education Select Committee said the £150 million ring-fenced funding for primary school sports championed by David Cameron was only in place for two years, and the group's Tory chairman warned it could be seen as a "gimmick".

The committee also questioned the Government's emphasis on competitive sports, warning this could deter some children from taking part in sporting activity.

In October 2010 Education Secretary Michael Gove announced that the previous government's Physical Education and Sports Strategy was being discontinued and that ring-fenced funding for School Sport Partnerships (SSPs) was to end.

In March 2013 the Government announced new ring-fenced funding of £150 million for two years from school year 2013/14 to provide primary school sport. The Prime Minister claimed the move was "capitalising on the inspiration young people took from what they saw during those summer months" of 2012.

But the MPs questioned the effect just two years of funding would have on creating a sporting legacy from the London Games. "We are concerned that successive governments' approach to school sport has been short-term: occasional 'pump-priming' by government is simply not good enough for something so important," they said.

"We recommend that the Government commits to a long-term vision for school sport which is properly supported by long-term funding. The primary sport premium funding is only in place for two years, and we believe that this is not sufficient to allow a long-term provision to be built. The primary sport premium must be embedded within a long-term strategy with sustained funding if the Government wishes to demonstrate a commitment to school sport and secure a legacy from the Games. On its own, the primary sport premium is inadequate."

They hailed the success of the School Games competitions, but noted that it too was only funded until 2015 and was limited to sporty pupils.

The MPs questioned the Government's focus on competitive sport: "While this brings with it many benefits, this emphasis can also deter many young people from taking part in sport at all. "We must recommend that the Department for Education (DfE) makes clear to all schools that they must offer both competitive and non-competitive sporting opportunities for their pupils, to ensure that all young people feel able to take part in sport and enjoy the benefits it brings."

They concluded: "While we do not think that the opportunity for a London 2012 legacy for schools has been lost, we believe that further action is needed if a long-term legacy is to be built... School sport is simply too important to be picked up and dropped. If school sport is to grow from the grass-roots, it needs long-term funding and time to develop. We would like to see an end to school sport being kicked around as a political football, and successive governments commit to a long-term future for school sport."


From Belfast Telegraph