Sports partnerships’ reprieve welcomed

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CAMPAIGNERS in the area who have battled to save the school sports partnerships have welcomed a compromise from the Government.

Earlier this week the Government announced that it had decided to continue funding the partnerships until the end of the academic year in July, and that it would make £65m available in 2011-12 and 2012-13 to ensure one PE teacher per school is released for one day a week to organise sports activities.

Young sports ambassadors and representatives from Bourne, Stamford and Rutland were outraged when the Government announced that it would axe the £162m sports partnerships across the county from March next year.

Earlier this month protesters from Stamford and Bourne joined thousands of pupils, teachers and Olympic athletes to march on Downing Street to convince Prime Minister David Cameron to change his mind.

Rutland School Sports Partnership sent a petition with 2,500 signatures on it.

Development manager for Lincolnshire South West School Sports Partnership Vincent Brittain said: “It’s fantastic news for PE and sport, but the devil will be in the detail.

“We’ve been extended to continue through the summer term which is also fantastic.

“Last week the Minister for Education Michael Gove was saying the sports partnerships haven’t made any difference to school sports, and this week the Government is recognising that we do a lot.”

The partnerships were introduced to encourage sports in primary and secondary schools, and they pay for coaches, events and PE staff.

They also fund representative pupils from secondary schools who act as sports ambassadors in their areas.

South West Lincolnshire School Sports Partnership costs £250,000 a year to run, Rutland costs £158,000, and South East Lincolnshire, which includes Bourne, costs £290,000.

The future of the partnerships in their entirety will depend on the schools themselves in the future.

Mr Brittain added: “School budgets do not look set to go up, especially if the Government starts funding them based on the number of pupils.

“It shouldn’t be up to them to provide sports funding themselves.”

Development manager for South East Lincolnshire Lee Farrell said: “We will need to know how much funding will be available to us.

“At least we know there will be some funding but evidently at a much lower level.”