Axed scheme to 'hit school sport'

By Deborah McGurran
Political Editor, BBC East

image captionSchool Sport Partnerships help promote competition between schools

School sports in the run-up to the 2012 Olympics in London could be hit by the cutting of a government scheme, a sports leader has told the BBC Politics Show in the East.

The government announced last month that it was to withdraw funding for the county's School Sport Partnerships (SSPs) as part of its Spending Review.

Sports leaders in the region have highlighted the case of Cambridgeshire which has seen 43% more children in primary schools taking part in sport within the SSP since 2005.

But the government said the partnerships were not affordable and did not provide the best value for money.

The end of the SSP scheme will see the loss of 52 development manager posts across Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Norfolk, Northamptonshire and Suffolk.

Alison Hope, partnership development manager for Cambridge SSP, said the scheme had been the "driving force" behind the campaign for more young people to be involved in sport in the run-up to the 2012 Olympics in London.

She told the BBC Politics Show in the East that the schemes in Cambridgeshire help promote sports competitions in schools in the county.

"In removing SSP structure and funding you are at a real risk of lessening the amount of competitions taking place."

As part of the Comprehensive Spending Review, Education Secretary Michael Gove announced that the network of SSPs was "neither affordable nor likely to be the best way to help schools achieve their potential in improving competitive sport".

He insisted he was not "closing down" SSPs but that, instead, they were being "entrusted to schools" to decide how to use them in the future.

The government has pointed out that despite 10 years of SSPs, only two in five pupils participate in inter-school sports competitions.

Tessa Jowell, Labour MP and former Olympic minister, told the BBC: "To get competitive sport into schools, a level of organisation is involved so we created positions called competition managers.

"This is not bureaucracy, these are the people whose job it is to make sure that the bus is ordered and the team drawn up, they are highly purposeful.

"It was a school sports programme in our state schools that was becoming a model around the world and this government has just taken a hammer to it."

The Politics Show will be broadcast at 1530 GMT on Sunday.

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