Extra funding for school sport aims to bring in specialist coaches


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The Independent Online

School sport is to get a £150 million a year cash injection to help bolster coaching for pupils in England, Prime Minister David Cameron announced today.

A primary school with 250 pupils would receive £9,250 per year - this is around two days a week of a primary teacher or a coach's time, according to Mr Cameron.

There will be a lump sum for each school with a per-pupil top-up, he said.

It is part of a strategy, announced on the back of the successful London 2012 Games, geared towards improving sport provision in state primary schools in England.

Mr Cameron is seeking to "ensure the Games count for the future too and that means capitalising on the inspiration young people took from what they saw during those summer months".

He also announced ring-fenced funding for sport which will be decided by heads or teachers.

The sums could be spent on specialist coaching and teacher training, dedicated sports programmes, Change4Life sports clubs or on after-school or weekend competitions.

Sports governing bodies and voluntary organisations will be offered a greater role to help increase specialist coaching and skills development.

Ofsted has been tasked with ensuring the funding brings the maximum benefit for all pupils, with schools held to account for how they spend the money.

A revised version of the inspectors' handbook, set to be used from September, urges consideration of "how well the school uses its Sport Premium". Key factors will include improving the quality and breadth of PE and sporting provision plus encouraging pupils towards healthy lifestyles and performing up to their physical capabilities.

Sport England is also investing £1.5 million a year of Lottery funding through the County Sport partnerships to help primary schools link up with local sports coaches, clubs and governing bodies.

A pilot scheme, as part of the teacher training, will aim to produce up to 120 teachers with a specialism in PE. This is set to begin in September.

Olympic champions Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis plus Lord Coe, the London 2012 chairman and the Prime Minister's Olympic and Paralympic legacy ambassador, all gave the new school sport strategy their support.

Farah, the 5,000m and 10,000m gold medallist, said: "It is great to see a commitment to funding school sport and that it is something I passionately believe in.

"I am very excited to know that lots of children will be able to get involved in sport while at school and get more help from teachers and coaches. It really is very important."

Heptathlete Ennis said: "It is great to see initiatives that help to give really young children the chance to take part in sport.

"This latest funding for primary schools sounds fantastic - so many of them have no funds for PE and hopefully now whether in an inner city or small rural community young kids will be introduced to fun ways to be active that will spark an interest in taking part in sport as they grow up."

The Football Association, the England and Wales Cricket Board, the Rugby Football Union and Premier League also backed the scheme.

The aim is to try and "create a culture" in schools that encourages all children to be active and enjoy sport, according to Mr Cameron.

The primary school years are seen as crucial in tackling obesity and physical inactivity.

The new fund is worth £150 million per year for the next two years.

This includes £80 million from the education department, £60 million from the health department and £10 million from the culture department.

Lord Coe, who is also a two-time 1,500m Olympic champion, noted that the strategy links in with a London 2012 pledge made in 2005 when it won the right to stage the Games that the sporting event would help inspire youngsters to get involved with sport.

He said: "By focusing on primary schools we have the opportunity to make sport and physical exercise a habit for life.

"I am particularly pleased to see the proposals around initial teacher training and continual professional development because I know from my own experience what an impact teachers and their engagement can have on the lives of young people."

Funding for schools will be calculated according to the number of children aged between five and 11.

All schools with 17 or more primary-aged pupils will receive a lump sum of £8,000 plus a premium of £5 per pupil.

Smaller schools will receive the sum of £500 per pupil.

Youth Sport Trust chairman Baroness Campbell described it as a "landmark day for PE and school sport" but stressed that investment in teacher training at primary school level is "desperately needed".

"Now the work really begins to make sure this impressive investment benefits all young people," she said.

"For many years we have been championing the need for greater investment in primary school PE and school sport provision, and it is welcome news that the Government has now recognised this as a priority area.

"If this funding is to reach every young person it is important to recognise that schools will need support in how to maximise its impact."

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), said: "Head teachers will welcome the extra funding for school sport and the trust that has been placed in them to spend it on what is best for their pupils."

Shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg said: "The Government scrapped the £162 million Labour put in place for School Sports Partnerships - despite the protests of parents, schools and athletes.

"The Olympic legacy is still at risk - the Government has got rid of the requirement that pupils get two hours of sport or PE a week and they watered down the rules protecting playing fields.

"It is good that the Government are backing Labour's plan to get Ofsted to inspect school sport, but they should go further and make sure children are getting a minimum amount of sport."