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House of Lords
Oral Questions

Asked By Baroness King of Bow

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to increase sports activities in schools.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash): My Lords, the Government are providing £150 million for each of the academic years 2013-14 and 2014-15 to be distributed to every state-funded school with primary age pupils. This funding will be ring-fenced and must be spent on improving the provision of physical education and sport. Schools using this funding will be reviewed by Ofsted. The funding will complement efforts across Government which will ensure that all children enjoy opportunities to take part in sporting activities. We are also spending up to £166 million on the School Games.

Baroness King of Bow: Is the Minister aware that the Prime Minister has lamented the fact that elite sport is dominated by those with a private education? This happens because private schools have hockey masters, rugby masters, cricket masters, and so on, who can spot and develop talent. Is he further aware that state schools can do that only if they create the infrastructure by pooling resources essentially to do the same thing? Incidentally, that is what the school sports partnerships do. Will the Minister come to Tower Hamlets Youth Sport Foundation to see how the borough's schools are pooling resources so that everyone can continue to keep the Olympic legacy alive and have the chance to do more sport in schools?

Lord Nash: I would be delighted to come to Tower Hamlets to do that. The noble Baroness may be pleased to know that, in addition to the four free schools we already have opening in Tower Hamlets, several more will probably be approved shortly. She makes a very good point about independent schools. The Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference is working on a scheme for co-operation between private schools and primary schools and King Edward's School in Birmingham is developing a scheme and looking for other schools to do the same.

Baroness Grey-Thompson: My Lords, sports and activities are incredibly important for disabled children and some very pleasing figures have been released in Wales today in the aftermath of the Games which show that participation among disabled people has risen. Has the Minister given any possible consideration 
 
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to whether sports provision could be cemented within the educational plans as proposed in the new Bill? It is much more cost effective than therapy and it would be a perfect opportunity to help change the fitness and health of disabled people.

Lord Nash: One of the best ways to celebrate and encourage disabled pupils is to celebrate the success of our Paralympians, including that of the noble Baroness, who won 11 gold medals, four silver and one bronze. It is central to our curriculum that all children enjoy sport at school. We have provided £300,000 to Sport England for disability sport to encourage wider participation in sport among children and of course the School Games are open to all participants. We have also been involved in a number of other measures.

Lord Higgins: My Lords-

Lord Addington: My Lords-

Lord Higgins: Thank you. I was going to give way. I declare an interest as patron of Herne Hill Harriers. Does my noble friend agree that far too many people give up sport when they leave school and that it would both encourage the general standard of sport in schools and encourage people to continue sport after school if more schoolchildren joined outside sports clubs before they left school? Will he see whether the department can do something to encourage this?

Lord Nash: My Lords, I agree entirely with my noble friend. I would like to see all our children doing sport every day. The Department of Health has funded the Change4Life sports clubs. We aim to establish 13,500 clubs in schools by 2015. We also aim to have 6,000 partnerships between schools and local sports clubs by 2017 by providing funding for the national governing bodies of the various different sports. A number of other measures are also in place.

Baroness Billingham: Is it not the case that one-third of schools have reported a decline in sports participation in the past two years? They report that this is due to a cut in funding and to timetable pressure. Michael Gove has much to answer for. Given the dire warnings, how do the Government intend to deliver the promised Olympic legacy of a new sporting generation?

Lord Nash: The latest Taking Part survey shows that the number of 11 to 15 year-olds participating in sport increased significantly in the six months to September 2012, from 86% to 94%. The school sport partnerships were expensive and patchy in their delivery. We have announced £65 million to release PE teachers to help primary school pupils, in addition to the funding that I mentioned earlier.

Lord Addington: My Lords, there is a great deal of consensus that if we want school-age sport to follow on to adult activity we must involve clubs at an early stage, as my noble friend suggested. Will the Minister give me an assurance that in future, if any changes are 
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made to the interaction between a club and a school, all those involved will be publicly consulted to make sure that the changeover does not take anybody by surprise and that we keep as much expertise as we have gathered so far?

Lord Nash: I am reluctant to give my noble friend that assurance here and now, but I am very willing to discuss this with him further to see whether we can do whatever we can to alleviate his fears.

Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall: My Lords, does the Minister agree that the effective use of the money that has been set aside for sport depends on the continued willingness of teachers-not just dedicated PE teachers but other teachers-to support sports activities outside the normal school curriculum and timetable? Will he take this opportunity to pay tribute to all the teachers who put a lot of their own time into making sure that children are able to take advantage of sporting opportunities when they arise?

Lord Nash: I agree entirely with the point made by the noble Baroness and will take this opportunity to pay tribute to teachers. The House has heard me say before that I regard teaching as the most noble of professions. All good schools provide a comprehensive range of sports during and after the school day and we are keen to send a message to all schools that we expect them to do the same.

Lord Woolf: My Lords, does the Minister think that it is important to extend the very broad approach that he is adopting to the use of sport to the criminal justice field, and in particular young offenders? Is this a matter that he discusses with the Ministry of Justice?

Lord Nash: I agree with the noble and learned Lord's point. We have approved a number of alternative provision schools that cater for young people who have been involved in the criminal justice system. They are particularly keen on activities, including sport.