Cameron draws up plans to boost sport in schools


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The Independent Online

David Cameron is drawing up plans to boost schools sports in the face of growing calls to capitalise on the Olympics by inspiring the next generation of young athletes.

The Prime Minister has held talks in Downing Street with the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, over how to ensure a sporting legacy from the London Games.

The move follows criticism of ministers for scrapping a schools sport scheme and for approving the sale of 21 school playing fields since the Coalition came to office. Only one application to sell a field has been rejected.

They are now looking for ways of encouraging youngsters to take up sport within the constraints of the squeeze on all Government spending.

Jeremy Hunt, the Culture Secretary, has admitted that sports provision in state schools is "patchy".

One possibility is that ministers will extend a day release scheme for PE teachers which was due to end next year. Another is to offer incentives to teachers who take out-of-hours coaching work.

Ministers could also increase the targets within the national curriculum for how many hours of physical exercise youngsters get every week – a key demand of Lord Coe, the chairman of London 2012.

Government sources last night confirmed that talks were under way between Mr Cameron and Mr Gove on the issue, but insisted no final decisions had yet been taken

The Department for Education (DfE) said yesterday that 14 of the playing fields that had been sold off were at schools that had closed and another four were deemed surplus after existing schools amalgamated.

One was extra grassland at a school site, one was leased to a company for it to improve a playing field and the third was due to be leased to an athletics club, although this did not go ahead.

A spokesman for the Department for Education said: "We will only agree to the sale of school playing fields if the sports and curriculum needs of schools and their neighbouring schools can continue to be met."