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Top Athletes Anger over School Sports ’Cuts’

Monday 6th December 2010

undefineThe BBC reported last week that Olympic champions Denise Lewis, Tessa Sanderson and Jason Queally said the end of direct funding for school sports partnerships was "ill-conceived". Education Secretary Michael Gove said the current system was too bureaucratic and of "variable quality". In a letter to David Cameron, organised by Olympic badminton silver medallist Gail Emms, the elite athletes warned that the move could have serious long-term implications in the fight against child obesity and illness.

"With one ill-conceived cut you are on the brink of destroying everything schools, clubs and the national governing bodies of sport are doing to ensure this and future generations embrace sport and physical activity," they wrote.

"We cannot stand by and watch as your government threatens to destroy any hopes this country has of delivering a genuine London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic legacy."

The letter urges the government to reconsider the withdrawal of direct funding in March for the 450 partnerships - alliances of sports colleges, primary, secondary and special schools in England to increase sporting opportunities for young people.

"The future health of all our children is at risk if you axe this funding," they added.

Michael Gove said that one in three pupils did not take part in internal school competition, while more than 700 schools did not offer pupils the opportunity to compete against other schools. As part of its efforts to encourage competition between schools, the government is setting aside £10m to establish an annual "Schools Olympics".

Ministers have said they expect schools to continue offering pupils a minimum of two hours of sport or PE a week, pointing out that the schools budget will rise by £3.6bn in cash terms by 2015. But sports charities have warned that if schools are asked to fund the programme themselves out of existing budgets, many will prioritise academic subjects or basic PE provision rather than sport.


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