The unveiling of a £100m government school sport policy designed to combat criticism over the Olympic legacy has been delayed due to a dispute between the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, and the education secretary, Michael Gove. This is from the Guardian…
The standoff between the Health and Education departments over a replacement for the £162m school sport partnerships controversially axed by Gove in 2010 has caused them to miss a pre-Christmas deadline to announce the new scheme.
It had been hoped the strategy would be unveiled this week, coinciding with announcements on investing £492m in grassroots sport and £347m in elite Olympic sports ahead of the Rio Games in 2016.
Gove is believed to be unwilling to force schools to spend the money on specific schemes, such as ensuring there are PE specialists in primary schools, because it contradicts his belief that headteachers should be free to choose how to spend.
PE specialists fear that unless schools are mandated to spend the money on sport, there will be a patchwork of provision across the country.
The future of school sport became a political issue during the Olympics, with many athletes and coaches calling for an overhaul of government policy. The prime minister, David Cameron, defended the decision to axe a minimum requirement of two hours of PE a week, controversially claiming some schools met it with “Indian dance”.
The London 2012 chairman, Lord Coe, said the row about competitive versus non-competitive sport was a red herring and he was more concerned with raising the standard of coaching and expertise to inspire children to participate in more sport inside and outside school.
Coe now has a role as the government’s Olympic legacy adviser and is believed to have made school sport a priority.
Gove recently held a series of discussions with ministers and other interested parties, plus a summit meeting with sports organisations, in an effort to find a way forward.
When Gove axed the successful school sport partnerships in 2010, he was forced to reinstate £65m of funding to release a PE teacher one or two days a week to work in primary schools.
But that funding runs out at the end of this academic year. The School Games, a nationwide inter- and intra-school competition, is funded jointly by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Department of Health.