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PE Lessons

Volume 463: debated on Monday 23 July 2007

5. What discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families on provision of physical education lessons in schools in the last 12 months. (151099)

The Department for Children, Schools and Families and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport work jointly to deliver the national school sport strategy. Eighty per cent. of children in school sport partnerships now do at least two hours of high-quality PE and school sport a week. Both Departments will continue to work closely to develop the plans to offer all children and young people five hours a week of sport.

I thank the Secretary of State for that answer, but I notice that the title of his colleague with whom he will hold discussions is the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families. In those discussions, will he also consider the facilities that are being made available to families, so that parents can join their children in physical education? Will he also ensure that any good practice that is developed will be discussed with Ministers from the devolved Administrations, so that we can have a programme that benefits the whole United Kingdom?

I appreciate my hon. Friend’s warm acceptance of what we are trying to do, and I assure him that this really is about participation and ensuring that schools and community sport come together and that, with the £100 million that we will spend, we really do increase participation in sport.

Does the Minister accept that, although physical education is good for all young people, and perhaps also for quite a number of adults, team sports in schools are particularly important? Team sports can inculcate discipline and a sense of working together. Team spirit and team sports are critical. What emphasis is the Minister—[Interruption.] I know that we can have a lot of sport in here today. What emphasis is the Minister placing on team sport?

I am grateful that the hon. Gentleman is taking the idea of team work and competition seriously. Obviously, he can talk to members of his Front Bench about how he can do that within the Conservative party, although I think it will be difficult. On the serious point about competition in schools, over many years competition has been seen as a dirty word. It is important to make competition a key element of inter-school and intra-school sport. The announcement last week will help to do that. Clearly, a lot of work has to take place with the national governing bodies of sports and the schools associations, but if we are united, we will see a sea change in competitive sport, which will bring benefits in terms of team work, competition and individual development.

It was welcome to hear last week about the additional support for sports in schools, but in real terms it will mean about £3 extra per child per year for children in our schools. That is against the backdrop of a 50 per cent. cut in lottery funding for grassroots sports. Is the Minister confident that sports teachers will be able to deliver on the Prime Minister’s promise of making participation in sport a new British characteristic?

I hope that I do not detect that the hon. Lady is decrying the Olympics and the proper funding of the Olympics. She is right to make the point about the £100 million. It is additional money, on top of the money that is spent on school sports anyway. A great deal of that money will go towards coaching, the development of coaching, and the competition managers who will assist teachers. I am confident that the money will be well spent and that it will deliver what we all want to see: increased competition and participation in school sport.