Langdon Park College reveals the potential cost of scrapping school sports funding

Schools in Tower Hamlets face tough questions over how to fund sports and PE after the government announced it will slash a �162m national budget.

The Department for Education is scrapping the school sports partnerships (SSP) programme from next April which funds dedicated staff and school PE teachers to work towards increasing pupil participation in sport.

In Tower Hamlets there are two partnerships, hosted by Langdon Park Community Sports College in Byron Street and Bishop Challoner Collegiate School in Hardinge Street, offering sports as diverse as American football, golf, lacrosse and snowboarding.

Schools have been told they will now have to fund the programmes out of their general budgets.

Chris Dunne, the Langdon Park head, said: “The cost is equivalent to �15 to �20 per child for a year’s worth of access to sports facilities and clubs.

“We will try to keep it going but the reality is that not all schools will be able to do that.”

There are 91 Tower Hamlets schools involved in the SSPs, with each secondary school having a school sports co-ordinator, typically a PE teacher who spends half the week developing sports programmes in their own and other schools.

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They also work with ‘link teachers’ at the borough’s primary schools.

Mr Dunne said: “Primary school teachers don’t get a lot of training in PE.

“We make sure they are equipped to do that job.”

In turn, he said the Langdon Park SSP has its own development manager and at least 15 sports coaches working across the borough, all funded by the government grant.

He said: “The sports coaches also spot talent, they can find children who are good at a particular sport and then get them involved in district squads or clubs.”

He pointed to the example of one of his pupils, Leonardo De Mura Muniz, 13, who was spotted for his judo ability and benefited from a judo club set up by the SSP.

He now hopes to represent the UK at the 2016 Olympics.

Mr Dunne also said the Canadian Olympic team, who plan to use Langdon Park’s facilities as their base during the London 2012 Games, were stunned about the forthcoming cuts.

He said: “They came over to visit us at half-term.

“They said they wanted to try and impress the programme onto their own government.

“When I told them it was being cut, they thought it was barmy.”

Sam Everington, a GP at the St Andrew’s walk-in centre in Devons Road, said: “My concern would be that anything that reduces the activity of children is going to lead to an increase in health problems.”

Michael Gove, the minister for education, said: “We are giving schools more freedom. All schools that wish to continue to enjoy specialist status, be they specialist sports, science or technology schools, will have that freedom.

“What we have done is remove the bureaucratic prescription that went alongside it.”