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Tessa Jowell MP, Labour’s Shadow Olympics Minister, speaking ahead of today’s speech by LOCOG Chair Lord Coe as part of the official London 2012 Education Programme, said:

“We welcome today’s focus on schools and the Olympics, but urge Michael Gove to rethink his decision to significantly cut funding to school sports. School Sports Partnerships were at the forefront of ensuring that the second key Olympic legacy pledge – to transform a generation of young people through sport – was met.

“Instead, this out of touch Coalition have failed to recognise that SSPs were internationally acclaimed and were one of the reasons why between 2002 and 2010 the number of young people doing at least two or more hours of sport per week rose from 25 per cent to 90 per cent. The drop off since the Tory-led Government abolished the scheme has been extremely worrying.”

Stephen Twigg MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, today said:

“All the evidence suggests that cutting funding to school sports is resulting in fewer young people accessing high quality sports opportunities.

“Terminating the infrastructure which supports school sport and ending the ring-fencing for funding at the very time that we should be seeking to increase activity in the run up to the Games in 2012 will make it nigh impossible for the UK to fulfil its Olympic promise. It is critical that we get more children in state schools doing competitive sport. It seems incredible that while only 7 per cent of pupils in Britain are educated privately, they represent 50 per cent of all British medal winners at the Olympics.

“It’s not too late for Michael Gove to reconsider his ill-thought through attack on sport in schools, but time is running out.”

Clive Efford MP, Labour’s Shadow Sports Minister, said:

“Funding for school sport has been cut overall by 66 per cent. What funding the Education Department is providing ends in 2013 and the Government will cease collecting the data on participation levels in schools sports, so we will have no means of monitoring what is being provided for our young people. Our young people must not pay the price for this Government’s economic failure.   

“Relaxing the restrictions on decommissioning school playing fields for development as set out in the Localism Act is further evidence that this Government does not value school sport. Between 1979 and 1997 the Tory Government sold 10,000 school playing fields. Labour introduced strict criteria in 1998 which had to met before a playing field could be sold. This resulted in the sale of playing fields falling to 230 between 1998 and 2010.  The Tories are behaving like burglars returning to repeat their previous crimes."

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