Outside sport may face NUT boycott

24th May 1996 at 01:00
Out-of-school sport could be boycotted by members of the National Union of Teachers from next Monday if education authorities and governors fail to insure its members.

The threat follows a High Court case in which Mr Justice Curtis ruled that a rugby referee had not kept proper control of a match in which a 17-year-old was paralysed. The injured player, Ben Smoldon, now 21, claimed Pounds 1 million damages from Michael Nolan, the referee, but the award has yet to be settled. Mr Smoldon was aiming at a place in his county's under 19 squad when he was injured during a match between Sutton Coldfield and Burton upon Trent Colts in 1991.

Doug McAvoy, general secretary of the NUT, wrote to teachers' employers last Monday seeking clarification over insurance arrangements. He said it was unclear whether an agreement reached with education authorities and voluntary-aided schools in 1973 for full insurance had been implemented throughout the country. Grant-maintained schools were not covered by the agreement.

Other unions have advised their members to check insurance cover before agreeing to supervise extra-curricular sport. The National Council for School Sport offers an insurance scheme to cover all helpers at district and federation level who are not covered by their schools for extra-curricular sport.

Meanwhile, the Labour party has published its plans for a new sports academy. These are in contrast to the Government's vision of a Pounds 1 million single, greenfield site based on the Australian model, announced last summer by the Prime Minister when he launched the policy document, Sport: Raising the Game.

Labour claims its version is more popular with the sports lobby. Tom Pendry, shadow sports minister, proposed the creation of a central headquarters site providing services like sports medicine and science, skill co-ordination, research and talent identification. Staff would develop a national strategy of excellence to be implemented locally with an improved network of sports centres.

He claimed it was a policy of "sport for all", rather than what he described as the Government's "sport for the few". The academy would build on the existing five national centres of excellence: Bisham Abbey, Lilleshall, Crystal Palace, Holme Pierrepoint and Plas y Brenin.

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