Public backs school sport funding boost
A new poll has put pressure on the Government to increase funding for school sports, after David Cameron announced plans to make competitive sport compulsory at schools.
A ComRes poll for The People found that 73% of respondents want to see funding increased in the wake of the Olympics. The Coalition has been criticised for scrapping a target of two hours physical education a week and cutting school sports budgets.
But the Prime Minister earlier pledged to introduce a requirement for “recognised and recognisable sports” to be included in the new curriculum for schools this autumn. But the announcement has been dismissed as a "smokescreen" by Labour, with Kevin Brennan, the Shadow Education minister, saying it is an “urban myth” to suggest competitive sports are not part of school life at present.
He told BBC News: “It sounds to me like he’s trying to perpetrate an urban myth – namely that competitive sport doesn’t happen in our schools in order to divert attention away from the 69% cut that was made in the funding for school sports partnership, which would have been a 100% cut if the Government had had their way.”
But Conservative MP Damian Hinds has praised the decision, saying Mr Cameron's commitment to sport was "absolutely undoubtable".
"There are still things that you learn from team sports that you can't learn elsewhere, about the power of a team, about pushing yourself even when you’re not winning, about learning that life involves losing sometimes as well as winning.”
Labour's Shadow Education Secretary Stephen Twigg said the Prime Minister's announcement "doesn't look thought-through", and reiterated Labour's calls for cross-party consensus on the issue.
Locog chair Lord Coe yesterday called for a "grown-up debate" on school sport, saying the "complex" issue should not be about political point scoring or become sidetracked by rows over the relative merit of competitive sport and exercise.
At a press conference he said it was "really important" that competitive sport was promoted, but added: "It is also very important that we recognise that has to be underpinned by good quality physical education and by getting people into patterns of exercise."