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Sport runs out of cash

Secondary school sport faces a tough future as funds dry up, Charlie Raeburn, chairman of the Scottish Schoolsport Federation, warned last week.

After 16 years as a leading advocate for school sport, Mr Raeburn told a meeting of the federation he was standing down amid "serious concerns" about the prospects for secondary school sport. The federation has issued repeated alerts after cash was transferred to primary school initiatives.

Two years after the publication of the physical education review, of which he was a member, Mr Raeburn said there was still no movement in the Scottish Executive to carry out a separate review of school sport.

Ministers and officials have declined to meet the federation, which has the support of Karen Gillon, Labour MSP and deputy convener of the cross-party sport committee.

Mr Raeburn, an official in West Lothian, said ministers had committed a further pound;12 million to fund the active schools programme over the next five years, but this was a standstill budget. Local authorities, already facing financial pressures, contribute up to a third of the actual costs.

Mr Raeburn also forecast problems when the New Opportunities Fund (PE and Sport) finishes next year. "Half of the revenue grants were for school-aged sport and physical activities. Our federation did, I believe, win the argument that there should be revenue funding to support school sport.

"Sadly, when it came to implementation the term school sport was dropped from the programme, with an accompanying loss of schools' control on how the money has been spent," he said.

The post-McCrone agreement on pay and hours did not appear to have benefited sport. "A plethora of teacher activity seems now to be recognised at both national and local levels for 'hours worked'. School sport is seldom one of these," Mr Raeburn said.

He revealed that the Bank of Scotland is ready to invest in schools'

football, with teachers and others being encouraged to take first-year teams. But even that concerns him.

"We are anxious how this scheme may impact on other school sports and indeed other volunteers who take school football. I think we can guess," he said.

He further attacked the decision to pump pound;2 million a year until 2012 into a UK school olympics. This was mostly about elite athletes and had little to do with school sport.

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