Midweek lottery will fund after-school clubs

16th May 1997 at 01:00
A billion-pound fund for education and health will be created from the proceeds of the Wednesday national lottery draw, the Government has pledged.

To start with, the money will be spent on training teachers in information technology and on after-school clubs for homework, sport and leisure activities.

Projects will not replace existing Treasury-funded programmes. They will be time-limited and will not require continuing funding from central or local government.

Labour has already promised to set up a New Millennium Fund - replacing the Millennium Commission - which will establish a National Endowment for Science and the Arts (NESTA).

This will be an independent charity, dubbed as a "National Trust for Talent" in the arts, science and technology.

Labour's new dawn at the Department of Culture and Communication - formerly the Department of National Heritage - in Trafalgar Square should also see a shift towards wider participation among young people in the arts and sports.

The Government expects the Dearing report on higher education funding, due in July, to provide a permanent resolution to the anomaly of discretionary dance and drama awards, instead of the Conservative's stop-gap use of lottery money to alleviate hardship for students during the next three years.

Schools will be expected to produce an annual arts statement showing what they have to offer students; a network of school libraries will be part of a national grid for learning on the information superhighway to share the country's treasures. Bids for an 'Arts Card' for 16 to 19-year-olds will be invited from organisations to encourage wider access to theatres, exhibitions, museums and music events.

Tony Banks, the new sports minister, and his colleagues in the Department for Education and Employment, are pledged to tackle the demise of school playing fields by replacing the government circular which encourages schools to sell them, and to improve physical education training for teachers, especially at primary level.

Mr Banks is a strong advocate of sport for all. You can't have champions without providing the widest access to sport, he argues. As well as team games, schools should offer other sporting activities - aerobics, movement, dance and outdoor pursuits.

Teachers who help with extra-curricular sports should be able to include this in their professional development record. Children's play will become a permanent direct beneficiary of lottery money, with the new Department of Culture and Communication (DCC) taking responsibility for co-ordinating a strategic approach to information, research, best practice and policy in this area.

The department will establish a youth sports unit to coordinate efforts to help young people feel they have a stake in society, and to combat crime, vandalism and drug abuse.

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