Relief as Government backtracks on axe for school sports

Photo: H&F on Flickr

School sports coordinators expressed relief this week that the  School Sports Partnerships (SSP) will stay in place until the summer .

Instead of facing £162 million worth of cuts in March, School Sports Partnerships, which help to co-ordinate sport and P.E. in schools, will now be given £47 million to continue until the end of this academic year.

In  addition there will be  another £65 million from 2011 to 2013 to ensure that schools can release one teacher for one day a week so that competitions between schools can continue but there are still concerns about reduced funding in the long term.

As reported by ELL last week, there was fierce opposition throughout the four boroughs to the removal of the SSPs, as many feared the consequences for child health and the Olympic legacy.

Glen Burt, a School Sports Co-ordinator for Lewisham SSP who is based at Sydenham School said: “I am certainly much happier at Christmas than I was in October, definitely.

“Sport is very important and it is a shame it is not a complete u-turn, but it is a step in the right direction.

However, there are still concerns surrounding the level of funding and whether it is enough to keep services at current level.

“We provide a massive package, not just competitions. We put coaches in schools, run leadership training and ensure that pupils get at least two, and in some cases three, hours of high quality P.E. I am not sure they will be able to continue in the same way under the new system,” Ms. Burt said.

Staff retention is also a worry for co-ordinators such as Ms. Burt, despite funding being extended until the end of the academic year: “On a personal level, I currently work with two secondary schools five days a week, under the new plan I may only be needed to work two days a week.

“I’m very passionate about my job, but maybe other people will decide to walk away,” she added.

How the differences in funding will work in practice is still unclear says Ms. Burt, with staff having to wait until they return to school to see the effects.

“But it is a great scheme and the heads of the schools I work with have said how much they believe the system works,” she added.

“At least the Government have recognised that we are doing a good job and are taking the pressure off teachers who haven’t got the time to co-ordinate all the things we help provide.”

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