What are the Conservative Party's policies for sport in schools?

by Leana Kell
What are the Conservative Party's policies for sport in schools?

Following the success of the London Olympics 2012, it became apparent that something needed to be done to guarantee the next generation of athletes. With figures from Ofsted in 2013 showing almost one third of school-age children in England were overweight and 14-20 per cent were obese, the report concluded that primary schools were currently failing to provide effective PE for pupils.

"Primary schools are failing to provide effective PE."

In March 2013, a two-year dedicated English primary school PE fund was announced by the Conservatives, which began in September 2013. However, there remained a level of uncertainty in schools as to whether the funding would cease after the election, with some headteachers very reluctant to take up the funding.

In March 2014, the Prime Minister pledged £150m a year in primary school sport funding guaranteed until 2020 if the Conservatives were re-elected. The party hoped that this election-contingent guarantee would reassure headteachers that the cash would continue to flow after 2015.

"PM pledged £150m a year, guaranteed until 2020."

Cameron said: "Sport is so important because it encourages children to be active, lead a healthy lifestyle, make friends and, of course, have fun. But quality school sport has benefits that spread right across the curriculum and beyond - it develops confidence and a sense of achievement, it teaches young people how to rise to a challenge, and nurtures the character and skills that will help them get on and succeed in life."

The pledge was not a coalition commitment, but one made by David Cameron, suggesting the Tories would put aside £750m for school sport across a five-year parliament. The money would go directly to headteachers for them to spend how they wished, and was supported by leading sports figures such as double Olympic champion, Mo Farrah.

Mo Farrah said: "The help I got at school was a key part of how I got to where I am today and so it can make a big difference."

Last year, the Conservatives claimed that primary schools containing around 250 pupils were currently receiving £9,250 a year - enough for around two days a week of a primary teacher or coach's time, to ensure every pupil could do sport with a level of specialist training.

"Funding per pupil will not go up by inflation."

But in the run up to the Election 2015, this week the Prime Minister has been challenged on his 'no cuts' school funding promise. Despite the government committing to providing a further £7bn for extra places for the increasing number of pupils, David Cameron conceded that the English education budget would not be protected from inflation. This would mean a budget cut of an estimated 10 per cent in real terms if the Conservatives won the election.

Labour's Tristram Hunt said the Tory's claims to protect funding actually represented a "real-terms cut". He explained that despite the Prime Minister promising to protect pupil spending, the promised amount would reduce in value with inflation as teachers' pensions and national insurance contributions rose.

Cameron's response was, with greater efficiency "more could be achieved with less". However, David Laws, the Liberal Democrat schools minister, said the financial commitment from David Cameron was "unbelievably weak", indicating that it would not only mean a real-terms cut for schools, but "deep cuts" in spending on pre-school and post-16 education, which educates more than 830,000 people aged 16 to 18. 

Cameron concedes that although funding per pupil will not go up by inflation, schools have demonstrated that they can "be more efficient, more effective and they can make their budgets work".

Labour has not yet announced its plans for financing school budgets.

Do you think the Tory's budget for school sport is enough? Will it make a real difference to schools? Let me know your thoughts.