£6m pledged to promote PE in Scottish schools

The Scottish Government hopes next year's Commonwealth Games will inspire interest in sport. Picture: Robert Perry
The Scottish Government hopes next year's Commonwealth Games will inspire interest in sport. Picture: Robert Perry
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NEARLY £6 million in funding has been announced by the Scottish Government to promote PE in schools.

The money was unveiled yesterday at the same time as a draft youth sport strategy was published, setting out proposals for more competitive games in schools.

A total of £5.8m – an amount in line with previous years – will be made available for PE lessons over the period 2014 to 2016, with the government hoping to capitalise on enthusiasm for sport in the wake of next year’s Commonwealth Games.

The draft sport strategy, now out for public consultation, also includes plans to involve disabled children in sport and PE provision, and to ensure high-quality coaches and others can work to raise the profile of young people in sport.

Sports minister Shona Robison said: “We all recognise the importance of being physically active and the Scottish Government and local authorities have invested considerable resources to support this in early years, school, further and higher education, and within the community.

“We know the power of sport to deliver better health and wellbeing for young people and this continued commitment to PE funding will help prepare young people to lead a fulfilling, active and healthy lifestyle.”

She added: “It is particularly important that the youth sport strategy is for children and young people, by children and young people, and we will work closely with representative bodies to engage directly with them. Next year’s Commonwealth Games present a unique opportunity to inspire children and young people and encourage participation in sport, and the final strategy and action plan can help achieve this.”

The latest figures show 88 per cent of primary schools and 91 per cent of secondary schools are providing the required two hours of PE for younger children and two periods a week of PE for older pupils.

Jacqueline Lynn, sports development head at sportscotland, said: “Tremendous progress has been made in recent years towards fully delivering the target of two hours-two periods at schools, and the investment announced today ensures that good work can continue. The youth sport strategy represents a significant milestone in the development of sport in this country and, with the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the Ryder Cup fast approaching, there is no better time to celebrate what we are doing for youth sport and consider what more could be done.”

But Scottish Conservative sport spokeswoman Liz Smith MSP said : “Apart from the delivery of the two-hours-per-week commitment, which the SNP promised in 2007, there is the equally important issue of access to qualified PE teachers.

“Councils must provide specialist PE teachers for schools instead of relying upon other staff the cover it.

“Many primary schools are being short-changed on this issue of quality PE lessons.”

Liberal Democrat education spokesman Liam McArthur added: “The previous ambition shown by the SNP appears to have been watered down in this strategy, with ministers having scrubbed the requirement for specialists.”