Cash crisis hits sport

4th February 2000 at 00:00
Volunteers to supervise school teams may vanish as teachers chase after hours money, officials fear

TEACHERS are pocketing extra cash for taking after-school study classes but running away from traditional after-school sports, jeopardising opportunities for thousands of youngsters, the Scottish Schoolsport Federation has warned.

Virtually all secondaries are tapping into the pound;27 million Excellence Fund for study support, leading indirectly to the loss of voluntary commitment, it is claimed.

Charlie Raeburn, federation chair, said: "What's happening now is far from being sustainable and the voluntary side will gradually disappear because it's not seen as useful or helpful. I appeal to headteachers, education authorities and the Scottish Executive to move quickly before it is all too late."

He was backed by the Headteachers' Association of Scotland after South Ayrshire was yesterday set to instruct its heads to distinguish between supported study and extra-curricular activity. Other authorities have taken a similar line.

Mr Raeburn said schools are paying staff around pound;17 an hour for out-of-hours work, while teachers get nothing if they take a football, rugby or hockey team. The anomaly should be corrected with equal emphasis on sport, he said.

Many federation members and schools reported a drop in the numbers of staff volunteering.

Donald Matheson, HAS president, described the Scottish picture of school sport as "patchy" and backed the extra-curricular campaign. He appealed for a wider view of study support and challenged councils such as South Ayrshire, which is asking heads to find non-financial ways to recognise staff's voluntary contributions.

The council cautions: "The payment of staff for undertaking extra-curricular activities would inevitably create anomalies between schols and ultimately lead to a situation which would be financially unsustainable."

But Mr Matheson replied that if teachers were paid for one activity, they should be paid for another. Heads did not have the means to recognise staff contributions in sport or other extra-curricular activities.

He added: "The view that attainment and motivation improve by going along to a study class is a bit one-dimensional. We would disagree with South Ayrshire. Pupil motivation increases through activities like sport and music. It's about the school ethos."

Mr Raeburn said much had still to be done to create the right climate for school sport, and it was significant around a dozen authorities had still to sign up for the sports co-ordinator scheme in secondaries. Councils found it difficult to back sport when they had no physical education advisers to initiate developments.

South Ayrshire, which is not taking part in the co-ordinator scheme, says because study support funding "is intended to extend provision and raise standards of achievement, it is not appropriate to use this budget simply to maintain existing programmes of extra-curricular activities".

The council recognises there may be some confusion between study support and extra-curricular activities, and suggests activities funded through study support should be integral to the strategy for raising standards, have clear links with the curriculum, and be an extension of existing provision.

Mike McCabe, director of education, added: "It is our intention to use the New Opportunities Fund to expand the range of out- of-school and extra-curricular activities, which we recognise are an important element in every child's education. We are pleased the Excellence Fund and the NOF will allow us to provide a menu of formal and informal activities."

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