Government pledge to revive competitive school sports

The coalition will today pledge to revive competitive sport in schools with an Olympics-style contest.

National Lottery cash will be used to fund tournaments in a wide range of sports, including football, rugby, netball, golf, cricket, tennis, athletics, judo, gymnastics, swimming, table tennis, cycling and volleyball.

Schools are to compete against each other in district leagues from 2011, with winning individuals and teams qualifying for county finals. The best will then be selected for national finals.

The first championship will take place in the run-up to the 2012 Games, and Paralympic-style events will also be staged in parallel.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Education Secretary Michal Gove are due formally to launch the initiative at the City of London Academy.

Mr Hunt said this weekend: "I want to give a real boost to competitive sport in schools using the power of hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games to encourage young people - whatever age or ability - to take part in this new competition.

"Sport - whether you win or lose - teaches young people great lessons for life. It encourages teamwork, dedication and striving to be the best that you can be."

Mr Gove added: "We need to revive competitive sport in our schools. Fewer than a third of school pupils take part in regular competitive sport within schools, and fewer than one in five take part in regular competition between schools. The School Olympics give us a chance to change that for good."

Lottery funding of up to £10 million a year will be distributed by Sport England to create the new competitions ahead of 2012.