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Burnham For Mayor

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Why I'm backing the National School Sports Campaign

I met with local campaigners today to discuss their concerns about the future of sport in school. This follows a hearing which I chaired in Westminster on Wednesday 17 November where Olympic athlete Darren Campbell joined representatives from the school sports movement to react to recent developments.

In the past few weeks, the Coalition Government decided to cease funding for, and effectively dismantle, the infrastructure responsible for supporting school sport in this country. Through ending support for School Sport Partnerships, they are stripping away the very networks that have transformed school sport.

Lesley McGreevy, a Partnership Development Manager, and Anne Waltho, School Sports Co-ordinator, met with me to discuss local efforts in a national campaign to protest against this complete withdrawal of funding. Signatures have been collected at local schools and sports clubs which will form part of the national petition to be handed in to the Prime Minister at Downing Street on the 7th of December.

Lesley, based at Lowton High School, and Anne have worked on the School Sport Partnership since it was piloted in the area. In the Wigan Borough, the Schools Sport Partnership has seen a dramatic increase in the number of children taking part in inter-school competition since it started in 2000. Schools across Leigh and Wigan now offer an average of 22 different sports in which their pupils can take part.

In 1997, Labour inherited a school sports system in the doldrums. We changed all that to ensure that every child had the opportunity to take part in high quality sport, including competitive sport. All this is now under threat.

Just when we are working to inspire young people across the globe through our International Olympic and Paralympic Legacy, our own children are being let down. Having met with local campaigners I am more determined than ever to take the fight to the Government to save School Sports Partnerships.

Olympic Gold medallist Darren Campbell said, "The transformation we have seen in school sport in recent years is allowing millions of young people across the country to take part in more sport than ever before. I have grave concerns that cutting the funding for the School Sport Partnership network will have a hugely negative impact on the sporting opportunities that are available to our young people."

As well as submitting a petition to Downing Street, there are Save Our School Sport campaigns on Facebook and Twitter, which are growing daily as people realise the far reaching impacts of this cut.