David Cameron is drawing up plans to boost school 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 lasting 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 schools playing fields since the Coalition came to office.
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 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 confirmed that talks were under way between Mr Cameron and Mr Gove on the issue, but insisted no final decisions had yet been taken.
Earlier this week Lord Coe, the organiser of London 2012, demanded more compulsory sport in schools to capitalise on the enthusiasm generated by the Olympics. He said it was particularly important that state school children gained access to "good, high-quality physical education".