Cuts Watch #328: The campaign to save school sports
The range of people campaigning against the decision to abolish School Sports Partnerships and end funding for the Youth Sports Trust must have surprised the government. Its certainly produced uncertainty round the cabinet table – on Tuesday night David Cameron said the government was going to “look carefully” at the issue, with the Telegraph reporting that the funding to be made available was “believed to be” £100 million – more than half the £162 million saved by the cuts. But then the Department for Education began counter-briefing that
David Cameron is taking a close interest in the issue but that is not a U-turn. The decision around the £162m and the sports strategy has been made and will not be reversed.
Ministers seem to be worried by the unusual coalition that has come together to defend school sports – including Paralympic and Olympic medallists, famous professional sportspeople and people involved in School Sports Partnerships who were upset at Michael Gove’s criticisms.
Young people themselves have emerged as leaders of this campaign. Debbie Foote, a 17 year old from Lincolnshire is the Chair of the “Young Ambassadors”, who work with the partnerships and the Youth Sports Trust to increase participation in school sport. She distributed petitions to all 450 Partnerships, who then circulated them to every school – where the teaching unions have helped promote them – and set up “Young Ambassadors Saving School Sport” on Facebook, which was followed by “Save School Sport Partnerships”.