GOVERNMENT plans to axe funding for a major arm of school sports will affect 40,000 Rotherham pupils, it has been claimed
And senior officials from Rotherham believe that jobs will be lost too.
A hefty £162 million is to be slashed by education secretary Michael Gove following the Whitehall spending review, which will end the successful Schools Sports Partnerships based at Rawmarsh and Wickersley.
Heads of the two groups, which organise sporting activities in every Rotherham state school, are currently working on a rescue plan which they hope will save most of the 20 jobs affected and continue the work of the past decade.
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The Government has come under fire over the plans, which have caused dismay among teaching staff, MPs and top athletes.
The manager of the Rawmarsh SSP, Matt Wainwright, branded the move “ridiculous”, saying that the cuts would undermine the battle to cut childhood obesity.
At present, Rotherham has 99 per cent participation rate in school sport—significantly higher than the national average—with work having continued to develop low-level involvement right up to specialist academy level.
Mr Wainwright said: “When I heard the news I was shocked and absolutely devastated.
“What Michael Gove was coming out with was just nonsense. He was picking and choosing for his own ends and to say we have not made an impact on young people in PE in schools is just nonsense.
“The one thing he’s missed out completely is any link to health. That has surprised me because it’s so short-sighted. Ridiculous.
“It really is a dreadful situation and I am concerned for my team at the moment, that some may be redeployed or made redundant.
“The hundreds of festivals and competitions that happen now won’t continue and we will be relying on the goodwill of teaching staff.
“The basis of what we do is getting children involved doing as much PE and physical sport as possible.
He added: “We will be out of contract, probably by the end of March. Our contracts are actually until August 2011 and we’ve not had any written confirmation or letter from the Government saying otherwise, but all the talk is that they’ll finish us at the end of the financial year rather than later.”
Mr Wainwright and his Wickersley counterpart, Peter Harper, will try to formulate a rescue strategy to keep as much organised sport provision in schools as possible.
“We are going to have to go around each schools cluster and look at them in detail,” he said. “
“I’ve written to all of the head teachers in primary and secondary schools in our partnership. The problem is that I’ve already spoken to two or three already and they can’t tell me anything until mid-February.
“I’ll have to wait until the budgets come out and then try to put a plan into action.
“It is a shame because so much hard work has been done and it has been a success.”
Mr Gove is understood to believe that the partnerships are over-bureaucratic and have not achieved increased competition in school sport.
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