The golden age of schools sport will never return, Douglas Marr, head of Banchory Academy, said. Mr Marr has helped to organise schools football in the north-east for 25 years and directs one of two existing local authority sports co-ordinator schemes in Scotland. The other is at Renfrew High.
"School sport is threatened in a major way," he said. "The number of young people participating is continuing to decline and the quality is continuing to decline as well."
In a bid to reverse the local trend, Mr Marr won joint funding from Aberdeenshire and the Scottish Sports Council to employ Brenda Drummond as a PE teacher and sports co-ordinator, with links to clubs. "The old idea of teachers taking sport after hours on a voluntary basis was dead. Teachers no longer have the time, and to a certain extent, no longer have the expertise to coach children in specific sports."
Mr Marr describes progress as "steady rather than astronomic" and maintains a sports co-ordinator is not going to revolutionise sport in schools when the problems are much deeper.
Pupils now have more opportunities in four focus sports, basketball, netball, swimming and volleyball, and Ms Drummond is looking to extend the scheme to senior primary pupils. She said: "There were maybe only four or five sports clubs in the school when the scheme started but there are now 15. Participation levels have doubled."
Ms Drummond spends Wednesdays and Thursdays on extracurricular work with much of her time devoted to administration. "It helps to lighten the load on the PE staff, so that they can get on with curriculum work. You would not believe how many entry forms and application forms come into a school."
On teaching days, she is involved in lunch hours and after school. Two parents have taken coaching qualifications in netball and run the school team. Other adults are taking a hockey leadership course.