Region's Olympics legacy put at risk by cuts to North East school sport

Sharon HodgsonWith the Olympics just over a week away, new research has shown that children in the North East have seen some of the biggest declines in the country when it comes to opportunities to play sport in school. 

 New research published today by the Labour Party has shown that there has been a 72% decline in the amount of time dedicated to organising school sport, after the Government ended support for School Sport Partnerships and cut funding for sport in schools by 69%. 

 The number of School Sports Partnerships operating in the region has fallen from 13 to just 4. 

 The findings, which have come from Freedom of Information requests to 150 local authorities, have also shown that nationally: 

 

- There are now 110 fewer School Sports Partnerships than there were in 2009/10, a decline of 37% 

- 48 local authorities (48%) recorded a decrease in the number of School Sports Partnerships 

- 28 local authorities (28%) no longer have any School Sports Partnerships

 Sharon Hodgson, Labour’s Shadow Education Minister and MP for Washington & Sunderland West said:

 “Young people across the North East will be glued to the screens cheering on Team GB over the next few weeks, and for the many the Games will inspire a desire to take up new sports and get fit. Yet these figures show that the Tory-led government is throwing away this golden legacy of enthusiasm for sport by stripping away the opportunities to take part at school.

 “These cuts to school sport also come on top of scrapping free swimming and slashing council budgets, limiting the leisure activities they can provide for young people. 

 “The Government only have a few weeks to put this shambles right before the opportunity is lost for a generation.”

 Tessa Jowell MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for the Olympics said:

 "When we won the Games, we made a promise to the people of this country and the international community to inspire a generation of young people through sport.

 "The Olympic and Paralympic Games are a once in a lifetime event that will get young people excited about sport. It is important that schools are able to maintain this momentum and help young people develop sport and exercise as a habit that will keep them healthy and fit for the rest of their lives. 

 "It is not yet too late for the Government to keep the promise that we made and make the most of this Olympic moment."

 ENDS

 Notes to editors

 1. The FOI request uncovered a 72% decrease in days worked per week by PE teachers on release in the North East compared to School Sports Coordinators in 2009/10. Only the West Midlands region had a bigger percentage decrease with a fall of 74%. 

 2. School Sports Partnerships 

 As a result of Labour’s School Sports Partnerships:

 - Between 2002 and 2007/08, the number of young people doing at least 2 or more hours of sport per week rose from 25% to 90% 

- By 2009/10, 55% of young people were doing at least 3 hours per week – and we were well on course to have 60% of young people doing 5 or more hours a week of sport in school. 

- This was an internationally acclaimed programme that was copied in Australia, Canada and Jamaica. 

- The Government have cut funding for school sport by 69% and taken it away from the networks 

- This has meant that almost half (45%) of the ‘hub schools,’ which the network was built around, have stopped supporting sport in other schools 

- Much stock has been placed in the power of the School Games, but so far only half of all schools have applied to join the competition. 

- The Government scrapped the PE and Sport Survey that monitored sport participation levels amongst school children 

- The survey provided valuable data on participation levels amongst school children, without this survey it is impossible to monitor the impact of Government cuts to School Sport on participation amongst children