Hunt: School sports delivery ''too patchy''
06 August 2012
School sports provision is still patchy and more needs to be done to encourage young people to adopt sport as "a habit for life", the Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said.
But he insisted that the government had increased funding for grass roots sport, returned the lottery pay out to 20 per cent and protected funding for sport in school at a time of austerity.
Hunt was responding to claims by Lord Moynihan, chairman of the British Olympic Association, who said that more money should be spent on school sports and facilities if the Olympic legacy was going to mean anything.
Moynihan, who was sports minister in Margaret Thatcher's government, said: "There is a need for radical reform and I am calling for more money. There needs to be a total commitment to ensuring a sports participation legacy that has to focus on schools and clubs. For seven years successive governments have been treading water. We have tens of thousands of kids watching great moments which will live with them forever. The government should step up to the mark."
Claiming that the government had introduced "a very radical change already" with its 'School Games' policy, Hunt told the BBC that the coalition was focusing funding on encouraging more people to continue doing sport after leaving school, having sport as "a habit for life".
But there needed to be some level of perspective, he said, because when looking at the medals table, Great Britain was third in the world.
"The funding of sport has been one of the great successes," Hunt said. "John Major set up the lottery in the early 1990s and in the '96 Atlanta Games we won just one gold medal. We have already won 16 in this Games and we're only half way through the Games, so I think other countries are now looking at the UK and looking at our sports funding model and seeing what they can learn."
Admitting that there was an element of luck in the quality of sports teaching that pupils receive, Hunt said: "I think at the moment [that] school sports provision is patchy in some places and we need to do what we can to make sure that the very best examples are spread throughout the whole country. This is absolutely going to be a focus over the next few months and it is one of the things that we really want to take away from these Games."
Labour's ex sports minister Richard Caborn also disagreed with Moynihan, saying: "We did invest very heavily in sport under the Blair administration. The success now in the Olympics is a result of the investment we put into UK sports. Moynihan shouldn't be rewriting history, he should be reflecting on what we did over the last decade to get us to where we are now. He is not acknowledging the work that was put in over the last decade. We put money into school sports and we invested money in elite sport and UK Sport. That has got us where we are."
The government issued this statement: "We are completely committed to creating a lasting sports legacy from hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games. We have in place a £1bn five-year youth sport strategy that will increase opportunities for young people to get involved in sport. We are improving community facilities up and down the country and protecting playing fields to improve the sporting experience for all. The School Games competition is rejuvenating competitive sport in schools, with over 13,000 schools signed up.
"Since the London Olympic bid was won in 2005 over one million more people are playing sport at least once a week but we want to go further. The Olympics is shining a spotlight on sport in this country like never before and we want to make the most of that. We want to create a culture where people play sport for life."