Background. The first School Sports Partnership (SSP) programme was trialled In Y 2000. Three years later a review of results proposed extending the scheme to eventually include 21,436 Secondary schools and 357 Further Education (FE) Colleges. Each school has been required to provide annual data relating to sport in schools. THS-BMRB, an independent research company, has been responsible for conducting a series of seven annual surveys using this school data and the reports can be accessed via the Department of Education’s website.
The final survey covering 2009-2010 produced interesting statistics.
SSP results 2009-2010. The 98 page report “PE and Sport Survey 2009/2010” is based on information provided by more than 99% of the UK’s Secondary schools and FE’s. Its numerous tables details the achievements of each of the 450 SSP’s set up by Government in 2003. But of greatest interest are the statistics relating to students involvement in sport. Here are a selected few.
1. On average secondary schools offered 25 different sports to pupils.
2. 93% of secondary schools offered athletics .
3. 46% of secondary schools (9,860) had links to athletic clubs. (NB. As there are only
200+ track and field clubs this infers each club is linked to 40+ schools! )
4. On average each secondary school had 13.8 sports clubs linked to it.
5. 25% of pupils in Years 10-13 only were actively involved in sports volunteering
and leadership activities.
6. There were 1,558,769 pupils in Years 10-13 of which 389,692 were involved in
sports volunteering and leadership studies.
7. In secondary schools 30% of girls and 40% of boys in Years 1-13 were involved in
inter school sports competitions
8. There were 6,565,106 pupils in Years 1-13 of which approx 2,297,787 were involved
in inter school sports competitions.
The cost of running the SSP scheme. In 2009/2010 the funding to SSP’s was £260million or an average of £577,777 per SSP.
As constituted, Partnerships were families of schools which typically comprised a Specialist Sports College linked to a set of secondary schools each of which had a further group of linked primary and special schools. The scheme funded 450 Partnership Development Managers around the Country plus a national network of 225 Competition Managers to attract young people to competitive sport. SSP’s used some of their funding to promote sports coaching in schools and some athletic coaches were paid to coach in schools as part of short term initiatives.
The work of SSP’s was assessed as part of the Government’s 2010 spending review and in Jan 2011 it was announced that SSP’s would be scrapped and replaced by a new scheme which would put funds directly to secondary schools for the purpose of enhancing competitive sport. SSP’s will receive £47million in 2011 to allow them to operate until the end of the 2010/2011 academic year.
The new approach to schools sport. The Department of Education issued an updated press release (2010/0133) on Jan 5th 2011 in which it stated that earlier strategies were driven by top down targets, undermined by excessive bureaucracy, limiting the freedom of individual schools on how they used their funding and lacked a proper emphasis on competitive team sports.
In June 2011 more details were provided relating to funding for the new scheme. The original press announcement stated that £65million of the Department’s spending review settlement will be paid to enable every secondary school to release one PE teacher for a day a week to be spent out of classroom, encouraging greater take up of competitive sport in primary schools and securing a fixture network for schools to increase the amount of intra- and inter –schools competitions. The funding is to be time limited to the school years 2011/2012 and 2012/2013.
In June secondary schools participating in the scheme were informed that each of them would receive the sum of £7600 to implement the scheme in the Olympic year up to August 2012.
How will it work? Some firm commitments have been made with promises of lottery funding from Sport England to build a framework of competitions as part of the new School Games with National finals in the spring of 2012 held in the Olympic stadium. As with many initiatives the devil is in the detail. So who will make this all happen? Some ideas have been listed in the official press release. To select a few:-
· Invite Dame Kelly Holmes to lead a network of sporting advocates to work with her in promoting school sport around the country and to encourage more young people to participate in sport.
· Work through Sport England with the national governing bodies of individual sports to get more volunteer sports leaders and coaches into our schools to encourage wider participation.
· Fund the Youth Sports Trust to expand The Young Ambassadors programme so that every secondary school, and some primary schools too, can appoint ambassadors in the run up to London 2012.
What does it mean for track and field clubs? ABAC has examined the plans in great detail and concludes that there is not a single incentive for clubs to get involved. Coaches who under the previous scheme might have accessed some funding for coaching in schools now have no chance of remuneration. Local authorities and schools have informed ABAC that the new funding will be retained in house to enable existing secondary school PE teachers to assist with sport in primary schools. But of course they would be happy to accept free assistance.
ABAC Comment. The major problem facing politicians involved with planning sport is that the facts (so called) presented to them bear little resemblance to reality. The reports on SSP performance replicate other surveys in that they paint a grossly exaggerated picture which has been contradicted by independent objective analysis.
The ABAC series of Fact Files has challenged authorities to address reality but with little success. So where will the problems lie with this new initiative? First of all few teachers are qualified to run competitions. Second few PE teachers are qualified to coach most sports. So if the new plans are to succeed it will come down to sports clubs to provide the volunteers to make this latest initiative work. And as we have pointed out many times the volunteers are leaving sport in their droves.