When It Happens Panel Get involved: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting 'OXFORD NEWS' to 80360 or email
New hope to encourage school sports in North Oxfordshire
THERE are renewed hopes that a scheme to encourage children to take part in sport, dramatically scaled back after Government cuts, can be saved.
The School Sports Partnership (SSP) was set up by the North Oxfordshire Schools Partnership, which represents 56 schools in Kidlington, Bicester and Banbury in 2004. Six years laters Chancellor George Osborne announced Department for Education funding for SSPs would be axed as part of his controversial spending review.
In response the schools clubbed together to keep the scheme going, but money will only stretch until this August. A lifeline has emerged this week though, as Prime Minister David Cameron announced a new £150m sport premium giving primary schools about £9,250 a year to deliver sport and PE.
Carl Hamilton, development manager of North Oxfordshire Schools Partnership, is hoping to meet with head teachers put forward proposals to pool the cash to fund the SSP.
Mr Hamilton said: “This represents a significant shift in policy and demonstrates the Government is finally prepared to acknowledge the hugely important role that high quality PE and sport play in the overall development of young people. It has made all the campaigning over recent months worthwhile.
“It’s my belief the best way of achieving the aims of the funding is through partnership working and we are hoping to continue the SSP. I have met most heads in the last six to eight weeks trying to pre-empt what the announcement would be and they all wanted to maintain the partnership.
“If primary schools put the funding into the pot there is enough money there to improve sports we offer. It will enable us to build on what we have been doing.”
Between the schools they look after 18,500 children, aged five to 19.
When the partnership was set up in 2004, only 25 per cent of North Oxfordshire children took part in at least two hours of sport a week, by 2010 the figure was 90 per cent. In the past nine years it has set up lunch and after-school sports activities, inter-school competitions and teacher training and created links to local sports clubs.
At the moment a large chunk of cash is spent funding secondary school PE teachers to work in primary schools.
After the cuts Mr Hamilton’s 35-strong team was reduced and there are now 10 full and part time staff.
He said: “We managed to sustain ourselves even though we lost staff and managed to maintain the same levels of sport. With additional funding we could offer primary schools more. It would mean more expertise into primary schools by highly qualified teachers.”
Tony Instone, head of Kings Meadow School, Shakespeare Drive, Bicester, said: “If we are to realise the dream of delivering an Olympic legacy, maintaining this infra-structure and building on achievements is the obvious way forward for all our pupils and schools in North Oxfordshire.”