The UK Government has been accused of “turning its back on school sport” and undermining the Olympic legacy six months after the Games.
Shadow Sports Minister Clive Efford said, “What has gone on in school sport is absolutely disastrous.”
Education Secretary Michael Gove is expected to announce a new strategy for school sport later this month.
Despite record investment in elite and community sport, the UK Government has made some cuts in schools sports.
Ministers say they are spending £1bn on youth sport over the next five years through Sport England, but the government has abolished ringfenced funding for the national School Sport Partnerships (SSPs) and ended recommendation for two hours of PE in schools each week.
The SSP network enabled well-equipped ‘hub’ secondary schools to lend PE teachers to those that needed them, especially primary schools.
Two years ago it lost its £162m funding. Following protests, £65m was reinstated allowing the programme to run partially. But that is due to cease before the start of the next academic year in September, leaving concern about the future.
Against this backdrop, the government is preparing its strategy, with the help of advisor and London 2012 chairman, Lord Coe.
Research has shown a 60% drop-off in the time dedicated to organising school sport, while a third of children leaving primary school are now obese or overweight.
An Ofsted report into levels of sport in schools over the past four years will be published in the next few weeks and is expected to show a fall in participation.
In addition to the £1bn spending on youth sport, the government also intends to extend the School Games, a scheme intended to boost competitive sport. Prime Minister David Cameron has said competitive team sports will be made compulsory for all primary-age children.
Lord Coe revealed plans were being put together by the Department of Education. “The focus will be on primary school sport and that’s important,” he said.
“That’s moving in the right direction. What we really want to do is give good quality physical education within the timetable, competitive sport in a properly managed environment, and give young people – particularly in state schools – the opportunity of high quality PE.”