Protests over axing of School Sport Partnerships

03 Nov 2010

 Protests are growing over the government's decision to cut all £162 million funding for the School PE and Sports Strategy and to end all ring-fenced funding for School Sport Partnerships.

As part of the Comprehensive Spending Review, the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, announced that the network of School Sport Partnerships was 'neither affordable nor likely to be the best way to help schools achieve their potential in improving competitive sport'.

This has aroused widespread anger and frustration amongst those working in school sport. A Facebook Group, 'Save School Sport Partnerships', has given voice to those dismayed by the decision.!/pages/Save-School-Sport-Partnerships/159893774044860 The page has attracted over 10,000 'likes'.

Typical of the comments is this from Jonathan Allan: 'If the Government are serious about a school Olympics and increasing "competitive sport" then how do they justify taking away the structure that creates competitive sport within school clusters, partnerships, towns and counties?'

The Facebook Group states: 'This will have a devastating effect on the opportunities available to our young people through school sport and in the wider community'.

In a letter to the School Sport Trust on October 20th, Mr Gove said the government would instead encourage more competitive sport through the creation of an annual Olympic-style sport competition.

He added that he was lifting the many requirements set for school sport by the last government. These include the need to collect information for an annual survey of sport participation, and ending the requirement to deliver a minimum amount of sport and PE for pupils. 

Mr Gove insisted he was not 'closing down' school sport partnerships but that, instead, they were being 'entrusted to schools' to decide how to use them in the future.

However, the fact remains that the funding is being taken away. Head teachers may choose to use mainstream budgets to support them but they will find many other calls on their money in the new period of  austerity.

In a letter signed by 480 members of the school sport movement, the protesters told Mr Gove:

'Sport isn’t just about the 1st XV on the rugby field, as Mr Gove seems to believe. It’s about finding the right sport for the right young person to ensure their lifelong participation in sport and an active lifestyle. Whether this is achieved through basketball or badminton, football or fencing, cricket or cheer-leading'.

The letter added:

'The Department for Education’s decision to remove £160m funding for the School Sport Partnership network will leave a huge void in the up-skilling of teachers in Physical Education, in the competitions and activities organised and delivered locally.'

As yet, though, there is no sign of the government reversing its decision.

User Comments

Helen Bourton - 03 Nov 2010

school sport

At last someone who understands the situation- the money will disappear into their budgets and sport will be something that gets tagged on when they remember- I want my children to access the same opportunities that I did - lots of different sports , opportunity to become a sports leader,like the adistars, find a way of being successful and celebrating health .
Mr Gove just doesn't understand how schools and all the programmes that have been developed will be lost.
A big thank you to you!

Suzanne Ramsey - 03 Nov 2010

Removal of funding for SSP's

The removal of ring fenced funding for SSP's is a disaster. The work that we have been involved in during the last 7 years has engaged student from a range of backgrounds and cultures. Although the emphasis in the SSP is on participation in PE and sport we actively work on impacting on the wider school issues including improving attendance and attainment, improving self esteem, developing leadership skills and engaging pupils who have become disengaged from education.Several of our past students are now employed by the SSP as community coaches and act as role models for our present pupils. We believe that the Partnerships are in an ideal situation to continue to support this work.

Pete Bourton - 03 Nov 2010

School sports partnerships

As a Deputy Headteacher of a secondary school and a teacher of 24 years I can say without reservation that school sports partnerships have revolutionised sport, not only in schools but in local communities. Gove's idea that schools do not take part in competitive sport is not only wrong but statistically misleading. To class as a competitive fixture a young person must take part in 12 fixtures throughout the year. To say that youngsters taking part in 10/11 fixtures are not competing, is clearly an example of "lies damn lies and statistics ." More importantly the revolution that has happened in school sport and education has centred not just on playing competitive sport but taking part in sport - in whatever form - organising, leading and living a healthy lifestyle.In short personalising physical learning for all young people not just people like myself who love traditional competitive sport.Surely this must form part of the 'big picture' vision when these skills and attitudes are transferred into families and local communities.I think Gove would like to lead us back to the 'good old days' of my youth when you played football in the Winter and cricket in the Summer and probably 40% of young took part in no school sport!
This is not about money but rather about the new Government wanting to destroy a hugely positive movement that has helped to raise academic , physical and social standards in all aspects of school life!

Jo Nightingale - 03 Nov 2010

Devastating cuts to school sport partnerships

School Sport Partnerships have year on year achieved the targets set for them by the Government. Often the targets were achieved one or two years earlier than expected. We have worked so hard and it seems that no matter how much we have achieved it is not being recognised.

The SSPs have used sport to impact on so many areas of education from improving young peoples health, helping build self esteem as well as improved attendance and behaviour. Partnerships have also impacted on local crime rates by supporting various projects to encourage young people into sport and away from crime. Surely the Government should allow the present network the opportunity to meet new targets.

It is amazing that the new Government is prepared to remove a network which has been very effective and uses the voices of young people as the catalyst to develop opportunities to meet the needs of those young people.

The Government advocates the 'Big Society' yet they are wiping out a network which has created a similar concept.

With the major sporting events coming to the UK, it is important that all young people have the opportunity to continue their participation either as performers or leaders. Without the partnerships who will provide these opportunities?

Without school sport partnerships, schools will struggle to maintain the present provision: This will significantly impact on future health resources and lead to an even more inactive population.

Cutting the school sport partnerships will not only impact on schools but also local communities, without opportunities beyond school what will young people spend their time doing?

We can only hope that the Government will listen to all the comments being made and reconsider.

Alison Mapp - 04 Nov 2010

Removal of funding for School Sports Partnerships

I ask the question ' how does the new government expect to deliver a school Olympics when they are taking away the infrastructure that provides school competition at a local level?'. Primary school pupils have been engaged in competition from as early as year 1, allowing them to experience being part of a team, mixing with other pupils and learning rules, as well as being engaged in physical activity. I'm not quite sure how young people are going to be enthused to take part in competitive sport in secondary school when their primary school experience is about to be taken away! We have over 100 sports leaders within the partnership that help officiate and run local competition, how does the government expect competition to run without any volunteers to organise it. The school sports partnerships have given pupils a chance, an aspiration and the belief that they can succeed at what ever level in sport. A government that is pro competition is likely to crush any hope of keeping the Singapore promise and leaving an Olympic Legacy and worse of all ruin the future for a lot of young people

M Telfer - 04 Nov 2010

Cuts to SSP funding

From the outside looking in it may not be immediately evident what a radical transformation has taken place in school sport over the past 10 years, bringing it to the forefront of school and community life. Removing the ring fenced money simply means one thing, the end of the provision as we know it. The government’s decision not to continue any form data capture (PESSYP Survey) on the progress of school sport from now on will allow them to ‘sweep under the carpet’ the devastating loss of opportunities for our young people that these cuts will bring. As Sport and PE professionals I think we would all agree that there should be more competitive opportunities for our young people, but this must be as part of a holistic approach to engaging all young people in a sport and activity in a way they enjoy and will be life-long. Many people think the government will not change their mind, or go back on the decision they have made; what a refreshing change it would be if this coalition could really show that they are a new kind of politics and admit they may have got it wrong.

@creativeedu - 04 Nov 2010

I highlighted your post in my Daily Digest of Education related blogs today as I thought other teachers would find it of interest. You can see it here:

Jonathan Wolff - 11 Nov 2010

Impact of cuts to SSP on youth volunteering

A major impact of the impending cuts to the Schools Sports Partnership is the dismantling of the cost-effective structure which has enabled very many thousands of school students to participate in youth volunteering. My 15 year-old son has delivered over 100 hours of coaching over this last year, mainly in primary schools, enabling youngsters to participate in a wide range of sports they had never tried before and actively promoting a healthy lifestyle. He has now been told that as the majority of the schemes that he has participated in have been funded by SSP (amongst other roles he is a Youth Ambassador for his city) it is likely that all his voluntary activities will cease. Is this not a direct abandonment of the commitment that the UK signed up to when bidding for the 2012 Olympics? It is completely disingenuous for this Government to talk about creating the "Big Society" whilst at the same time dismantling a structure that has been very ably delivering it. It is my perception that future participants in most competitive sports (apart perhaps from Association Football) will need to be drawn (as they predominantly are now anyway) from those families who can afford either to pay for their youngsters to get involved in local sports clubs or to attend private schools - who invest heavily in recruiting sports graduates as elite coaches to their competitive squads. The potential damage to the health of the nation and increased burden on the NHS as a result of these cuts is enormous. A very, very foolish move by a Government that clearly does not understand the implications of this disastrous decision!

Marge Millar - 06 Sep 2011


I've just retired after 44years in PE and Sport, and have over the years witnessed many changes. I've seen things come 'round full circle-new names,titles etc-- but having finished my career as an SSCo, firmly believe that the SSP'S have been the most successful development to 'gell' the relationship between PE and School Sport. Feel sure Gove will be proved wrong in many ways. I never had this support as a PE Teacher--had to do it all-and so often in my own time!

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