Battle opens on 40-hour rule

5th March 1999 at 00:00
PRIMARY schools are pressing for a greater share of lottery money as the Sports Council plans its distribution of cash for the next eight years, writes Diane Spencer.

A campaign spearheaded by a Middlesex primary school governor is seeking an end to the "40-hour rule" making lottery awards dependent on premises being open for community use for that amount of time per week.

Because security worries and small sites make this difficult, funds for most primary schools are ruled out. Brian Holder, a governor of Stanley junior school, Teddington, has lobbied MPs and approached the National Association of Head Teachers, the Central Council of Physical Recreation and the Sports Council in an attempt to get the rule scrapped.

Schools can bid for money under the Lottery Sports Fund's School Community Sports Initiative (SCSI), launched in October 1996.

The SCSI was intended to complement the Priority Areas Initiative that began in March 1995 when the Sports Council became aware of inequalities in the distribution of lottery funds.

But no state primary school in a town or city has received a penny under the SCSI, Mr Holder said.

Responding on behalf of all primary schools to the Sports Lottery Fund's consultation exercise, he said that a cheap and most effective improvement would be to level playgrounds and resurface them for sports, marked in different colours for various games.

Special arrangements should be made for primaries in the most deprived areas as they not only lacked facilities and resources, but parental, financial and community support and the skills necessary to make a bid for SCSI funds.

A National Playing Fields Association multi-games wall at pound;27,000 could kick-start the development of sporting interest for pupils, parents and the community. "It may not be glamorous, but it could be effective," said Mr Holder.

The Sports Lottery Fund is due to publish its strategy for priorities and funding next month.

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