Culture Secretary set to unveil plans for School Games
Wednesday, 09 February 2011
February 9 – Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt is set to unveil plans for the new School Games, which is due to start next year, at the Youth Sport Trust National Conference which begins today at the Telford International Centre.
The two-day conference will see over a thousand head teachers, directors of specialism and leaders in school sport in attendance to discuss how schools can maximise learning and achievement for young people through sport.
Hunt is set to be the headline speaker at the conference.
The 2011 Sainsbury's UK School Games, which take place in Sheffield later this year from September 1-4, will be the final edition of the competition in its current format.
The annual event for elite school-aged athletes, which was inaugurated in 2006 under the then-Labour Government, will then evolve into the School Games with the first edition of the new competition in 2012 due to be held in the Olympic Park.
Despite widespread suggestions that the British Olympic Association (BOA) would run the new School Games, it was confirmed at the end of last year that the Youth Sport Trust will continue to be in charge of the competition which unlike its predecessor, will involve schools competing at local level before going through to national finals.
And while the event will involve "Olympic-style" competition, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have not permitted the term "Olympic" to be used in the title of the new event as the Government has designed it in a manner that fails to meet the IOC requirements to protect an Olympic association.
The move prompted BOA chairman Colin Moynihan to state earlier this year that his organisation are considering "whether to launch a British Olympic Association School Games in 2013 and beyond" but talk of the rival event appears to have been put on the backburner for now with the Government happy for the Youth Sport Trust to run the new School Games alone.
Meanwhile, Conference in Telford, which is sponsored by Sports and Leisure Group, includes workshops, seminars and networking opportunities that allow schools to share ideas and innovations on how sport can be used right across the curriculum to improve attainment and achievement.
As well as Hunt, one of the key speakers at the conference this year will be Jo Salter, Britain's first female fighter pilot.
Cuts to the School Sports Partnerships are bound to be an important topic of discussion at the National Conference.
In last year's Comprehensive Spending Review, it was announced that the entire £162 million ($260 million) funding for the School Sports Partnerships would be axed before a wave of protests from teachers, pupils and Olympic athletes like diver Tom Daley forced the Government partially backtrack on the decision.
The Department for Education (DfE) will now pay the school sports partnerships to the end of the current academic year at a cost of £47 million ($73 million) while £65 million ($101 million) from the DfE's spending review settlement will be allocated to allow every school in England to release a PE teacher for one day a week for the following two academic years.
Steve Grainger, chief executive of the Youth Sport Trust, said: "Over the last few months we have seen the spotlight shine more brightly on school sport than ever before and the passion of head teachers, school sport staff, young people and Olympians has been clear for all to see.
"The tough economic climate is having an impact on all areas of life – not just school sport.
"And although we all know the importance and power of PE and school sport, we have to be realistic about the amount of central government funding that will be made available to support our work in the future.
"That does not mean setting our sights lower, just finding new ways to realise our goals.
"PE and sport are powerful tools that can transform the lives of millions of young people across the country and our focus must be to continue to provide the very best opportunities.
"We remain committed to delivering a PE and school sport system that is the envy of the world and our success to date has been achieved through our commitment to deliver positive experiences for young people and to demonstrate the difference that school sport makes to their lives."
The conference is an opportunity to celebrate and reward schools for their creative approaches to delivering PE and Sport.
The Youth Sport Trust's Innovation and Recognition Award winners, which will be announced at the conference, are glowing examples of how school sport can be delivered to maximise the opportunities for young people through sport.
January 2011: Steve Grainger - Why there is renewed hope for school sport in 2011 despite extreme challenges
January 2011: Government U-turn over funding cuts shows that school sport really does matter claims Grainger
January 2011: Exclusive - BOA may launch own School Olympics
December 2010: Jim Cowan - School sports U-turn further evidence of lack of Government strategy
December 2010: Exclusive - New school Games will not include word Olympic