Few Olympic tickets for Scottish schools

1st July 2011 at 01:00
About 125,000 London pupils to enjoy Games and just 50,000 outside host city

Scotland is on course to receive only a tiny fraction of the number of Olympics tickets allocated to schools.

Some 125,000 tickets have been allocated to schools and colleges in London but only 50,000 to those in the UK outwith the host city.

And only 118 - about one in 30 - schools and colleges in Scotland are even eligible to apply so far compared to 3,184 in the rest of England, who are competing for the same tickets.

Of the total 175,000 tickets for pupils and students, 100,000 will come from a scheme called Ticketshare, which imposes a levy on hospitality packages at the games. Half of these - 50,000 - are being donated to schools and colleges outside London. In addition to London's 50,000 allocation, the city's mayor, Boris Johnson, has secured a further 75,000 for London schools and colleges.

Ticketshare tickets will be distributed exclusively to those involved in the London 2012 Get Set network for schools and colleges. Latest registration figures show only 118 involved in Scotland - although others can still apply until December this year - compared with 1,190 in London and 3,184 in the rest of England.

The figures emerged in parliamentary answers from the UK under-secretary for sport, Hugh Robertson, to questions from SNP sport spokesman Pete Wishart.

Mr Wishart told TESS the scheme appeared to have been barely been advertised in Scottish schools.

The parliamentary answers prompted fears that the Olympics' much-heralded focus on "legacy" will not extend beyond England.

The Places People Play programme will put pound;135m into sports facilities and coaching south of the border but there is no equivalent project for Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland; the same scheme also entitles English youngsters to apply for free London 2012 tickets.

That is despite pound;150m in National Lottery money going towards next year's Olympics - although Sport Scotland stresses there is a legacy project for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, the Community Sport Hubs initiative, which will have a pound;1.5m annual budget until 2015 and does not operate in England.

London 2012 organisers said they were working with regional colleagues to support the legacy of the games throughout the UK.

Mr Wishart said: "Despite repeated claims that this is an Olympics for the whole of the UK, it seems that everywhere outside of London has been an afterthought for the games organisers.

henry.hepburn@tes.co.uk

ONCE IN A LIFETIME CHANCE

School Leaders Scotland general secretary Ken Cunningham told TESS he accepted that there may be issues over ticket allocation and legacy. But having the Olympics on British soil still represented a "once-in-a- lifetime opportunity", which he hoped schools would take.

He said he had seen a great deal of enthusiasm for the Games at the Scottish InspireAspire awards - designed to promote Olympic values - in Stirling last week, at which youngsters had seemed inspired by the presence of Scottish rowing medallist Katherine Grainger.

All Olympic Games were fertile grounds for schools but the excitement at having them so close was a boon, said Mr Cunningham. That few Scottish schoolchildren might attend in person did not concern him particularly.

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