Seb Coe insists school sport funding will be maintained beyond 2015
Lord Coe, the man who delivered the Olympic Games to London, has given his assurances that funding for school sport will be maintained beyond this parliament.
Earlier this year, the Olympic gold and silver medal winner successfully negotiated a deal with the government that would see primary schools receive £150m a year for the next two years in a bid to capitalise on the legacy left by the London 2012 Games.
Prime minister David Cameron announced the deal back in March that would equate to every primary school being handed an additional £9,250 a year on average for them to invest in specialist PE teachers and sports coaches.
However, the short term nature of the deal led to some stinging criticism from sports groups and politicians alike, with the Commons Education Select Committee warning the programme risked becoming little more than a “gimmick”.
“We are concerned that the government’s primary sport premium – while correctly focused – is only being given to schools for two years,” Mr Stuart said in July.
“This is simply not long enough for schools to build a sustained provision. Many headteachers will be struggling to decide how to spend the money most effectively and, if the funding is not extended, there is a risk the primary sport premium will become little more than a gimmick.”
But Lord Coe, who is now chair of the British Olympic Association, said he had little doubt the level of funding would remain whichever party came into power following the 2015 general election.
“There will be a commitment from both sides of the political divide to maintain that funding,” he told TES. “I do understand – I have been a politician and for a short period a minister – that it’s very difficult to bind the hands of your successors. But I cannot remotely believe that whatever circumstances prevail after 2015 that political parties of all persuasions wouldn’t see the value in that funding.”
Tony Draper, head of Water Hall Primary School in Milton Keynes, welcomed Lord Coe's comments but said the money could still be better spent.
"It's great news, but to have really got the most out of the money it would have been better for it to have gone into developing more primary school PE specialists in initial teacher training," Mr Draper said.
"That way more primary school teachers would benefit from their expertise, rather than the money going on outside sport coaches or clubs."