Don't starve sport of cash

24th February 2006 at 00:00
Teachers who take after-hours sports should be paid at least pound;250 a year to recognise extra efforts beyond their contract, the Scottish Schoolsport Federation has told ministers. Out-of-hours sport in secondary schools is now "a matter of serious concern" after ministers switched much of the finance and therefore time for developing sport to the primary sector.

"If there is no early intervention, then the outlook for school sport in Scottish schools is bleak," the federation warns. It is pressing for a full review of school sport, with hard evidence about the true picture of participation levels, after the Scottish Executive's physical education review group ducked any reference to out-of-hours sport in its report 18 months ago.

One way of combating the continued decline, it contends, would be to pay any teacher in primary or secondary an honorarium to acknowledge their contribution to clubs and activities outside school hours. Staff might be asked to work, for example, an extra 20 hours a term to qualify for the additional payment. Time off in lieu is another option.

The federation believes headteachers should be able to pay above the pound;250 national minimum and points out that many teachers are already paid at least pound;17 an hour for supervising study support. Some teachers and instructors are also paid to run out-of-hours music instruction, supported by the Executive's pound;17 million initiative on instrumental tuition.

The federation states in its policy paper, now in the hands of Peter Peacock, Education Minister: "Professionals find it very disappointing that colleagues in schools are being paid for out-of-hours school learning schemes, running study classes where small numbers of pupils attend, yet teachers involved in after-school sport and physical activity club organisers can have up to 30 pupils under their care and receive nothing."

The paper points out that this is "particularly disappointing for members of staff, particularly the PE staff, who currently receive no financial recognition".

Next Thursday, Jack McConnell, the First Minister, is due to parade the work of active schools co-ordinators in primary at a conference in Glasgow.

But the federation, while welcoming this, believes that secondaries are in serious long-term difficulty after activity co-ordinators are now given just one day a week to develop and organise sport, instead of two.

"The picture is much less encouraging in the secondary school environment with fewer teachers volunteering owing to curricular restructuring, an ageing profession and decreasing self-discipline among children. It is also an area where very few parents volunteer to assist school sport," Charlie Raeburn, SSF spokesman, said.

The federation, backed by Karen Gillon, the Labour MSP, argues that the real problem in secondary is the delivery of sport and the lack of volunteer teachers, parents and coaches. Clubs, with "the possible exception of rugby", have little to do with secondaries.

"This poses the question: who will actually take the children for the practice and the matches after school?" it asks.

Ministers regularly trumpet the success of lottery cash and out-of-hours funds in supporting activity, but the federation argues that "time-limited"

funding does little for long-term stability and does not address what it calls a "long-standing problem".

"In many ways this type of funding has ultimately a negative impact on staff," it states. "Where coaches have been paid to deliver sport, volunteers and teachers are understandably reluctant, once the funding runs out, to continue their extra-curricular commitment unrecognised and unrewarded."

The federation recognises the work of North Lanarkshire's three sports comprehensives in developing more after-school sport but says it is not clear who will deliver in the other secondaries.

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