Tories launch trust to boost school PE

29th January 2010 at 00:00
Sport and exercise to be put at top of agenda

The vast majority of pupils still do not receive two hours of PE a week, six years after it became official government policy, figures released this week by the Scottish Conservatives show.

The flagship Scottish Government target is being achieved by only 35 per cent of primary schools and 17 per cent of secondaries.

The Conservatives revealed the figures as they launched a trust to boost sport among young people.

The party, which used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain them, also found that:

- four councils met the target in all primary schools;

- two councils met the target in all secondary schools;

- nine councils reported all their primaries had an indoor sports hall;

- only one council said all its primaries had outdoor sports facilities.

Liz Smith, Conservative children and schools spokeswoman, said her party was "putting sport and PE back at the top of the agenda".

A Scottish Government spokesman said it, as well as local authorities, remained committed to the two-hour target.

"Good progress" was being made, he said. East Renfrewshire provided two hours of PE in primary and secondary schools, while Dundee, Perth and Kinross, and Orkney ensured two hours for every primary pupil. Other councils doing well included: Midlothian (80 per cent of all schools); West Dunbartonshire (70 per cent of primaries); Renfrewshire (60 per cent); Aberdeen (more than 50 per cent); and Clackmannanshire (all primary schools providing at least one-and-a-half hours to all children).

The Conservatives' proposal is to set up an independent charitable trust for all of Scotland, for "the encouragement of the development of sport in schools and for school-aged children". The trust would "complement - not replace - the work of existing bodies, using examples of good practice from both the public and private sector".

It has been backed by former Scotland rugby captain Gavin Hastings, who believes that it "removes the political angles" from the issue of children and sport. Mr Hastings, who will encourage businesses to make donations, insisted it was "not too much to ask" that all pupils did two hours of PE a week.

The trust was announced during a visit to Scotland by Jeremy Hunt - shadow minister for culture, media and sport at Westminster - who explained that it tied into plans for a shake-up of the National Lottery.

The Conservatives say their proposed reforms will release an extra pound;186 million for good causes, with at least pound;19 million going to Scotland. A chunk of this would be used to fund the sports trust.

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