Education Secretary Michael Gove’s decision to end ring-fenced funding for school sports “quite frankly flew in the face” of the UK’s commitment to a lasting sports legacy after the 2012 Olympic Games, Labour has claimed.
Shadow education secretary Andy Burnham said there was widespread disbelief over Mr Gove’s £162 million cut in sports funding for English state schools.
And he seized on an Observer report that suggested Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Health Secretary Andrew Lansley had expressed concerns in Cabinet over the decision.
Mr Gove has insisted that overall spending in schools has increased and it is up to headteachers to decide their own priorities.
But Mr Burnham told Sky News’ Sunday Live: “I remember the 1980s when school sports dried up and when I worked in government I was on a mission to rebuild it and that’s what we’ve done in the last 10 years.
“I don’t often have many good words to say about Mr Andrew Lansley … but I’d like to praise him for having the courage to stand up to Mr Gove in Cabinet and say that we need this investment in school sport because it helps build more rounded children.
“It helps drive up standards in schools but crucially it makes them healthier too.”
Mr Lansley and Mr Clegg apparently voiced fears over the axeing of funding to School Sports Partnerships (SSP), a network that promotes PE and school sport in local communities.
Mr Burnham said Labour would have accepted a cut in the SSP budget of up to 30%.
“What Michael Gove did instead was to remove the entire budget – 100% of it,” he said.