The Sports Council is concerned about the shortage of applications from inner-city schools for the National Lottery millions. In the second tranche, awarded this month, Pounds 18 million went to 93 projects including seven schools and 11, in all, to the benefit of young people. But there is concern that the bulk went to well-heeled country areas, and middle-class sports such as bowls, golf and tennis.
Sports Council chairman Rodney Walker, and members of the 12-strong panel responsible for allocating the cash, were worried because few applications from the 46 local authorities and 48 sporting bodies came from poorer city areas.
The council will be studying why this is so and "looking to help where possible within the constraints of current Government guidelines", said Mr Walker. Awards can only be given where schools can show dual use with the community, and for capital projects, not revenue.
Derek Casey, the Sports Council's chief executive, said it could be that inner-city schools were struggling for partnership funding (the lottery will only fund up to 65 per cent of a capital project) and councils were waiting to see what kind of projects gained support. There was no need to rush, as applying for funding was "a marathon, not a sprint, and if we need to change policies we will," he said, adding that people were waiting to see how things settled down.
Although the first allocation included a grant of more than Pounds 700, 000 to the Arthur Terry comprehensive in Sutton Coldfield (TES, March 24), this month's cash goes to "the haves", not the "have-nots", such as the enterprising King Edward VII Upper School, Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, which has already attracted Sports Council and sponsorship money to develop its excellent facilities further.
Bath University will also benefit with a Pounds 2.66 million award towards a Pounds 4 million plan for a multi-sports training village for students and the wider community.
National Lottery money is set to feature greatly in the Government's plans on sport, to be announced in a White Paper in the next few weeks. Schools will be given greater encouragement to tap into funds to improve their facilities; but the lottery will not be used to pay teachers for out-of-hours coaching.
Ministers at the Department of National Heritage and the Department for Education, however, are working on finding ways that schools can have access to funds to ensure teachers do not lose out.
And schools should benefit, say Heritage sources, not only from the Sports Council's new focus on youth sport but also from the Sportsmatch scheme, funded by the football pools, which gives matching sponsorship grants to projects. Schools will have to be imaginative in applying for these and adapt their programmes to get as much out of the system as possible, explained one official.
But all this largesse is unlikely to help the parlous state of physical education teaching highlighted by a report out this week on Welsh schools. HM inspectors found that half the lessons inspected last year achieved less than satisfactory standards at key stage 2 and only 60 per cent were satisfactory or better in the younger age group.
While the quality of learning was satisfactory in most classes at key stage 3, overall standards for the three key stages was satisfactory in just three-fifths of classes.
Nearly half of the primaries had limited access to resources and poor accommodation for teaching PE.