Bad sports: Paralympian legend rues end of school sports funding
7:00am Monday 1st October 2012 in News
The Government has been accused of putting the Olympic legacy in jeopardy after ending funding for a sports programme that has coached and organised competitive sport for thousands of pupils.
Money for the Kingston School Sports Partnership (KSSP) was due to end last year following cutbacks, but was given a reprieve to run sports days after campaigning from parents, pupils and schools.
Government funding runs out next September, though supermarket giant Sainsbury’s will keep the School Games running for the next two years.
Six time Paralympics gold medallist David Weir, who trains in Kingston, said: “I know times are tough, but surely they could find other places to save money.
“Everyone is on a massive buzz after what was achieved this summer so it just feels like really bad timing.”
KSSP organiser Sandra Blenkinsop said: “We did so well at 2012 and it is only then people ask what is going on at grass roots level.
“A lot of what we have seen out there can be attributed to the School Sports Partnership, with everybody really enthusiastic about sport once again, but still the money will be cut.
“Parents have a lot of power these days and if you want your children doing sport the schools have to listen to you.”
Rob Niedermaier-Reed, headteacher at Chessington Community College, which hosts the service, said KSSP provided invaluable specialised sports coaching, particular to children at primary schools.
He said: “It is our intention to continue to help provide the services across schools in the area.
“There is, however, now one big problem and that is how we will pay for it.”
Councillor Andrea Craig, opposition member for schools in Kingston, said: “It is our duty at the council to lobby Government decision makers and ask them, if you are going to cut this scheme in Kingston, what is it going to be replaced with?
A Department for Education spokesman said it wanted more young people in competitive sport but said: “This can’t be driven by top down Whitehall policies, as we have seen previously.
“It must be led by parents and communities creating a culture where competitive sports can thrive.”