Announcement to boost school sport due shortly reveals Sports Minister

Sunday, 13 January 2013
By Tom Degun

Hugh-Robertson-1January 13 - Sports Minister Hugh Robertson has revealed that an announcement on school sport from Education Secretary Michael Gove is due "shortly" which is expected to offer a funding boost following the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Gove's Department for Education (DfE), who assume responsibility for school sport in the UK, have often come under criticism, particularly in their first Comprehensive Spending Review in 2010 when they announced that the entire £162 million ($260 million/€190 million) funding for the School Sports Partnerships would be axed.

The move was met by such a fierce wave of protests from teachers, pupils and Olympic athletes, like teenage diver Tom Daley, that the Government had to partially backtrack on the decision and reinstall some of the funding for a period.

Following the success of London 2012, there have been renewed calls for more investment in school sport to help continue the legacy drive of the Games.

And although Robertson said that school sport falls outside the remit of his Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), he revealed the DfE will be announcing a boost for school sport in the near future.

"We have always dealt with school sport through the Department of Education where I am not a Minister," Robertson told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"I effectively take people at 16-years-old and we increase the boundary to try and deal with the post-school dropout.

"So our next round of funding tries to encourage the age group from 14-25 to get out of school and into club sport in a much more meaningful way to address this post school dropout.

"But the Education Secretary is due to make an announcement on school sport shortly."

Robertson gave few details about what the announcement will include but said that there will be a clear focus on both the curriculum and funding for coaches to come into schools.

"I think it is almost impossible to do it without a combination of those two things [the curriculum and funding for coaches to come into schools]," Robertson said.

"When I first got involved with this issue eight years ago in opposition, it was clear that any sports policy needs to have three elements.

"You need the elite high performance end to inspire; you need the community side which takes people from 16 to whenever they stop playing sport and then you need school sport.

"The difficult thing for us in Government, and there is no point in pretending anything else, is that we are trying to do all this against the toughest economic backdrop possible.

"You can have any number of really good ideas, and many of us do, but the bottom line is you have to find a way to pay for them and that is a quite often the challenge at the moment.

"People just have to be realistic about the financial situation we are faced with."
 
Michael-GoveEducation Secretary Michael Gove is due to make an announcement on school sport in the near future

Robertson also defended criticism against Gove on school sport, saying some of the targets he has been accused of missing are unfair.

"As far as the target [to get school children playing sport] is concerned, one always gets lost in this argument," he said.

"What Michael Gove did do is make PE a compulsory, core curriculum subject.

"That had never ever happened before.

"If it is a core curriculum subject, you don't need a survey.

"All the survey did was ring people up and ask them if they were doing it.

"It wasn't independently verified or done under any of the statistical authorities so it wasn't terribly robust.

"But Department's taking part survey, which does conform to all the necessary statistical guidelines, does measure participation from five to 16.

"It is a far better way to get accurate data on this."

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