Harriet Harman

Labour Member of Parliament for Camberwell & Peckham

Government cuts to school sports partnerships could lead to drop

School sports is so important for young people.  It builds an interest in sports and health, which can last a lifetime.  And it also allows athletes’ talents to be noticed and developed.

But young people in Southwark could start losing out on school sports because the Tory-Lib Dem government has cut funding for School Sports Partnerships (SSPs).

Labour’s School Sports Partnerships increased participation in 2 hours of high quality PE each week from 25% in 1997 to over 90% by 2010.  They were underpinned and developed in every local area by School Sports Coordinators.  But the Tory-Lib Dem government scrapped funding for SSPs in December 2010.  The Government has also scrapped the School Sport Survey, which measured the participation of schoolchildren in sport (including hours of high quality PE each week).
In Southwark there were more than 10 people working full time to organise school sports under the Labour Government School Sports Partnerships.  But following the Tory-Lib Dem government’s cuts there are now just three.

Last week at Deputy Prime Minister’s Questions I challenged Nick Clegg over how much children’s participation in school sport had fallen since the Government abolished Labour’s School Sports Partnerships.

He had no idea.  This is a travesty.

But we think this is important so we asked local authorities and those coordinating School Sports Partnerships what had happened to school sports since the government has cut funding for SSPs and about school sports staffing.

Our survey of schools found that the time spent organising sport currently by those on the Government’s teacher release scheme is 60% less than the time devoted to organising school sport by School Sports Coordinators under Labour’s sports programme. 

Many parents won’t have the money to be able to chip in when the government pulls back 60% of funding.  That means young people in Southwark will lose out on opportunities for playing sport, which provide an outlet for fun and better health. It also means we’ll lose the opportunity to spot our potential Olympians and sports stars of the future.

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