Jan 26 2011 By David Baker, Harrow Observer
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A HARROW councillor has pleaded with education secretary Michael Gove to rethink 'savage' cuts to school sports.
Portfolio holder for schools and colleges at Harrow Council, Councillor Brian Gate (pictured), has written to Mr Gove urging him to rethink his plans to cut 80 per cent of funding from schools sports part-nerships (SSP).
The scheme encourages schools to work together to develop sports, co-ordinated by a council employee; the number of Harrow pupils involved in competitive activities has risen from 27 per cent to 78 per cent in the past five years under the partnership.
Councillor Gate said: "This brilliant scheme promotes sport among our young people, and in particular encourages joint initiatives between schools."
"It's not just a case of sending children outside to play football; this initiative will have serious impacts on the health and wellbeing of children of all backgrounds."
Under the new proposals the coordinator role will be axed and funding earmarked for the scheme will only last until the summer.
After the school summer holiday there will only be enough funding to allow one PE teacher per secondary school to be released for one day a week to help encourage competitive sport in schools.
According to Mr Gate, this could destroy the work done to encourage take-up of all types of sport by partnerships across the country.
Harrow's schools sports partnership manager, Dan Wilson, added: "The SSPs are really affective.
"In fact, they work so well that every high school headteacher in Harrow has signed a letter urging Mr
Gove to change his mind about this potentially disastrous decision."
Harrow pupils spend an average of two hours a week in PE lessons and more than 27 per cent attend community sports clubs.
A department for education spokesman said: "The government wants competitive sport to be at the centre of a truly rounded education that all schools offer but this must be led by schools and parents, not by top-down policies from Whitehall. The department will pay school sport partnerships for the full school year to the end of the summer term 2011 at a cost of £47million. This will ensure that partnerships can continue until the end of the academic year. A further £65m will be paid to enable every secondary school to release one PE teacher for a day a week until 2013."