What are Labour's policies for sport in schools?

by Leana Kell
What are Labour's policies for sport in schools?

Since the Coalition government came into power in 2010, the Conservative Party has made a significant impact on school sport. Initially, this was brought about by the motion in October 2010 when the current government ceased funding for supporting school sport in England.

"Tories stopped collecting data on participation"

In 2002, it was estimated that just 25 per cent of school children were taking part in two hours PE and sport each week; by 2010 this was 90 per cent. Since the policy was axed by Education Secretary Michael Gove, and the Tories stopped collecting data on participation through the PE and Sport Survey, Labour felt that far fewer children were participating anywhere near this amount.

Following a significant backlash from Labour and grave concerns from leading figures in sport , in 2013, the government announced new funding for primary school sport and PE in England worth £150m a year for the next two years. The new funding was designed to pay for extra coaching sessions and improve the quality of sports and PE provision.

In July 2014, in the build up to the Election, Harriet Harman, MP and Labour's Shadow Culture Secretary, launched a new policy consultation document entitled 'More Sport for All' based on how more people of all ages and background can be supported to take part in sport and physical activity.

"Labour to re-introduce two hours of sport for every primary school child"

The consultation document examines a range of policy ideas designed to shape a long term strategy and support community sport. One of the policies included in the document was to re-introduce two hours of sport for every primary school child - the policy Labour introduced when they were in power. The consultation also included tough new targets for increasing female participation in sport and a ten-year National Strategy for Sport.

Speaking at an event for sports stakeholders in July, Harriet Harman said: "We were all proud to host the Olympics and Paralympic Games in London two years ago but instead of seeing increased participation, things have got worse especially amongst young people as a result of the government axing School Sports Partnerships.

"Labour wants to help everybody to do more sport and physical activity - from children to the elderly, girls and well as boys and people from all backgrounds and regions".

'More Sport for All' outlines  the country's passion for sport, with people of all ages participating in sport and watching sport at events and on TV. Labour believe that this alone makes it a very important issue for public policy, but that the need for sports in schools runs much deeper than this.

"Helping young children develop their 'physical literacy'"

Labour describe how sport has many important beneficial effects such as helping young children develop their "physical literacy", building team skills and helping young people feel more positive about school. Physical activity is also key to dealing with the obesity crisis and helps in tackling illness from diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimer's.

If Labour wins the 2015 Election, the Party has made a bid to ensure that all school children receive the 2 hours minimum sport and PE that was originally offered to them under the previous Labour Government. They also aim to improve the teaching of sport in schools by offering pupils "sports taster days" and more sport in after-school clubs.

Clive Efford MP, Labour's Shadow Minister for Sport said: "If we are going to get more people active then we have to empower the people who do most of the work in our communities to have more influence over how we plan, organise and deliver sport and physical education at local level".

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