A FORMER England footballer's drive to get multi-national companies to sponsor free sports kit for schools is dividing teachers' unions.
Former Liverpool defender John Scales has set up Kit4Schools, which provides 200 schools with football kit emblazoned with brand names such as PlayStation 2.
But while the National Association of Head Teachers is backing the scheme, viewing it as supportive of school sport, the National Union of Teachers said the project was another example of growing commercialisation in education.
Mr Scales's company, BeSport, last week held a five-a-side tournament open to all schools participating in the scheme, with prizes including a PlayStation console (see picture, left).
Kit4School's website reads: "Companies and brands who get involved will benefit from a unique opportunity to directly increase brand awareness amongst the future generation of consumers."
It adds: "Constant use of the kits means advertising for the whole schools football season."
John Bangs, head of education at the NUT said: "I feel very uneasy indeed about that. This is part of the quantum leap in commercialisation in our schools over the past year."
Mr Bangs added, however, that the project was not as objectionable as voucher schemes which provide schools with equipment in return for pupils and their parents buying a particular product.
Cadbury's Get Active scheme, which offers schools sports equipment in return for vouchers from chocolate bar wrappers, has attracted particular criticism in recent weeks.
UK companies now spend an estimated pound;300 million a year promoting brands in the classroom.