Richard Garner: How our schools lost the plot

The Coalition decided to axe funding for PE teachers to train in delivering sport

Share
Related Topics

The seeds for diminishing sports participation in state schools were sown way back in the 1980s. That was the time when the selling of playing fields was common place – often by cash-strapped councils who short-sightedly saw it as an opportunity to avoid making further cuts elsewhere to their budgets.

Click here to see 'The price of gold: How elite sport is funded' graphic

Then there were the teachers' strikes of the late 1980s. One of the first weapons they sought to use was a ban on voluntary activities. Voluntary activities, of course, meant organising school sports.

When such industrial disputes ended some teachers questioned their commitment to carrying out what was, after all, something they did not have to do. As a result the level of sporting activity has never reached its earlier heights.

Labour ministers recognised the problems after it took office in 1997 and insisted that schools or local authorities wanting to sell off playing fields had to get permission from the Depart- ment for Education.

Labour also set a target that all pupils should undergo two hours of sport a week, The majority of all secondary school pupils hit that target by the end of past decade – compared with just 20 per cent in 2003.

There is now, though, a further threat to the future of school sports as we seek to capitalise on the legacy of the Olympic games.

One of the most unpopular acts undertaken by the Coalition Government was when Education Secretary Michael Gove decided to axe the £162m funding for the School Sport Partnerships throughout the country – which saw secondary and primary school PE teachers released for up to two days a week to train in delivering sport and promoting sporting activities in conjunction with neighbourhood clubs. An outcry, led to a partial U-turn by the Government but there was still a 69 per cent cut in the programme's budget. Some 48 per cent of all authorities have now seen a reduction of School Sport Partnership activities.

The end result has been to leave the future welfare of sport more in the hands of the independent sector.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Analyst – 2 year fixed term contract – Kent – Circa £55k

£45000 - £55000 Per Annum 31 days holiday, pension, healthcare, annual bonus: ...

Experienced Foundation Teacher

£100 - £222 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: We are currently recruiting f...

SEN Learning Support Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Birmingham: SEN TA's apply now! West Midlands

Network Infrastructure Technical Lead - up to £45k DOE - Surrey

£35000 - £45000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

An oil rig in the North Sea  

The Scottish people deserve the truth about North Sea oil and gas

Colin Tinto
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week