Tom Degun ITG2Seemingly far later than it should have come, Britain's Education Secretary Michael Gove will imminently make an announcement on school sport in England, where a funding boost is likely to be on its way.

Gove's announcement will come this month - most likely next week according to those close to the Department for Education (DfE).

Why it has taken the DfE, who assume responsibility for school sport in the country, over six months from the start of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games to announce anything benefiting school sport is rather a mystery.

After all, "legacy" is still the buzz word six months on from London 2012 and Prime Minister David Cameron has continuously promised it high on his agenda, not least in a joint letter with Mayor of London Boris Johnson last month where the pair concluded that by "learning the lessons of the past, we will make sure that the greatest Olympic and Paralympic Games ever really do benefit our entire country for generations to come."

In the move to "Inspire a Generation'; children in schools appeared to be at the heart of the scheme but the chief roadblock to all this seems to be Gove himself.

Those at the top of sport administration in the country all reiterate the same line that Gove simply "doesn't get sport" and sees no use for it as an educational tool.
Michael GoveEducation Secretary Michael Gove will make an announcement on school sport this month but has been criticised with a lack of commitment to it

Gove quickly incurred the wrath of the school sport soon after the Coalition Government came to power in 2010 when, in his Party's first Comprehensive Spending Review in 2010, it was 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.

Gove has never since made any real attempt to engage with sport and there was an unusually strong atmosphere of animosity toward the Education Secretary at the Youth Sport Trust 2013 Conference in Telford I attended this week. The conference itself saw hundreds of headteachers and school sport professionals gather to discuss the legacy of the Games for young people.

In most workshops, there were vocal attacks on Gove with those passionate about sport in schools seemingly losing patience with his failure to comprehend its value, especially following a home Olympics and Paralympics.

But more diplomacy is clearly required, and the individual who has long been fighting the corner for school sport against an increasingly bleak backdrop is Youth Sport Trust chair Baroness Sue Campbell.

Throughout the conference, Campbell, who is also the UK Sport chair, expressed optimism that her messaging had got through to Gove ahead of the imminent announcement, but also thinly veiled worries.
Sue Campbell YST 2Youth Sport Trust chair Baroness Sue Campbell says school sport administration is something that is too important to get wrong

"I want to see the legacy promise made in Singapore [when London were awarded the Olympics] - to 'Inspire a Generation'- to be bought to life through high quality physical education and school sport," Campbell said regarding what she wants to see from the announcement.

"We need to work in partnership with the Department of Education, the Department of Health and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, as well as our partners schools, because this is too, too important to get wrong."

Campbell also highlighted primary schools as a key target saying that "if we don't get it right, then we are not laying the foundations for health and we are not laying the foundations for sport for young children."

Throughout the conference, Campbell was questioned on Gove's failures on school sport and was diplomatic throughout. It was dangerous to discuss the issue in depth, she told me as we sat down together on the side lines of the conference.

"I think we do have to get away from personalising this too much and focusing on a particular individual," she told me.

"This is a Government responsibility and that means the Department of Education, the Department of Health and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. It is not just the responsibility of one person and one Department; it is a responsibility of everyone in Government from the Prime Minister down.

"I think it is dangerous if it gets too personalised against an individual and that certainly isn't helpful for anyone. This issue is much too important than that. This can't be me against an individual or an individual against me because that is nonsense."
School sportSchool sport will almost certainly receive a funding boost from Government this month, although details of the announcement are unclear

Youth Sport Trust chief executive John Steele was equally keen not to be overly aggressive.

"I think the Government announcement around investment in school sport is part of what needs to happen," Steele told me carefully.

"But the other part of it is keeping the momentum of London 2012 in terms of legacy.

"There is some great work going on even in a difficult environment, and a real belief and passion in the ability of sport to change young people's lives.

"Of course Government support is crucial, but there is a lot more to it than that."

With a relationship to maintain with DfE, Campbell and Steele are right not to go on the offensive against Gove.

But the other headteachers and school sport professionals in Telford were happy to attack, with the majority going so far as to call for the Education Secretary's immediate resignation.

So despite a clear lack of belief in Gove and the DfE, school sport must hold its breath and wait for his announcement, with both optimism and fear very palpable.

Tom Degun is a reporter for insidethegames. To follow him on Twitter click here.