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Educational Institutions: Sports

Volume 470: debated on Tuesday 15 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what his policy is on encouraging sport at establishments within the responsibilities of his Department; and if he will make a statement. (178247)

The Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills recognises the importance of sport and physical activity to us all, for our good health, positive leisure and for our economy.

We are working closely with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Department for Children, Schools and Families to maximise the Government’s substantial investment in school sport and sport for young people.

Further education colleges and higher education institutions are helping to build on the foundations of the Government’s school sport strategy by sustaining participation and supporting talent development for young people beyond school, and by maximising the contribution of their facilities, staff and other resources to sport in schools and the wider community.

We are increasing the number of sport and physical activities available to our young people through the introduction of almost 400 FE sports co-ordinators during 2008-09, linked to the existing national network of School Sport Partnerships. Young people will be encouraged to access an offer of three hours of sporting activity. At the same time, our vocational learning programmes linked to the 14-19 and skills strategies, including the young apprenticeship in sports coaching and the advanced apprenticeship in sporting excellence, aimed at high performing young athletes, will support the growing demands from across the sport and leisure sectors.

We believe that sport can be an agent of regeneration. Through skills development, the sharing of facilities and sporting opportunities, and research and liaison with key partners, our further and higher education institutions are enhancing the education and the quality of life of their students and the wider communities they serve.

In addition, many further and higher education institutions are widening access to their often excellent sports facilities so that more people can enjoy the health and social benefits that participation in sport brings. Where colleges are undertaking substantial new builds, Sport England—in association with the Learning and Skills Council—are working with colleges to identify opportunities to expand and enhance original planned sports facilities—with the aim of opening the facilities to the wider community.