SCOTLAND may be lagging behind in the development of school sport after the launch of a Tony Blair-backed drive to boost the nation's performance.
The Scottish Schoolsport Federation believes the publication of A Sporting Future For All by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport has raised the ante and pushed England ahead of Scotland, where Sport 21, the Sportscotland strategy, remains the engine of policy.
Charlie Raeburn, the federation's president, claims new initiatives on physical education, specialist sport schools, primary school facilities and club development outstrip those in Scotland. A key recommendation south of the border is "an aspiration" in a new physical education 5-16 curriculum for two hours a week to be spent on activities "within and outside the school day". The full statutory entitlement will be reinstated next September following the successful introduction of litercy and numeracy strategies.
In Scotland, recent surveys show most primary pupils receive just over half of the suggested level, about 70 minutes a week. Sport 21 wants all pupils to have three 40-minute periods a week.
England is also adopting the Scottish system of sport co-ordinators but deploying 600 full-time staff in areas of greatest need to work with "families of schools".
Ministers have again reiterated their commitment to creating 110 specialist sport schools by 2003 to work with PE teachers on programmes in school and activities out of school. Mr Raeburn said: "What is happening contrasts sharply with the funding from the Excellence Fund in Scotland which has brought pound;950,000 over three years for eventually 75 kids at Bellahouston Academy."
The federation will be debating these and other key issues at its conference on May 26 at St Margaret's Academy, Livingston.