Sally Gunnell to hand in Brighton and Hove school sports petition

Posted On 19 Jan 2011 at 10:28 am

Olympic gold medalist Sally Gunnell is to help hand in a petition about school sports in Brighton and Hove.

The former athlete, who lives in Steyning, will be joined by local parents, teachers and political campaigners at Brighton Town Hall at 1pm next Monday (24 January).

The petition was set up in November when the government announced that it was scrapping the £162 million budget for School Sports Partnerships.

Campaigners want Brighton and Hove City Council to lobby the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government to continue funding the local partnership.

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The government has since pledged to spend almost £50 million keeping the partnerships running until the summer.

It will then spend £65 million to allow one PE teacher at each secondary school to spend a day a week promoting participation in sport.

Tom French and Chris Cooke, who are running for Labour in Queen’s Park in the local elections in May, have been urging people to sign the local petition.

It has attracted more than the 1,250 signatures necessary to trigger a full council debate.

The electronic version of the petition can be seen here.

The debate is expected to take place a week on Thursday (27 January).

Mr Cooke and Mr French said on a Facebook page in support of the campaign: “It promotes sport and fitness to children across the city in 72 schools from infant to sixth form.”

Andy Marchant at Dorothy Stringer High School in Brighton runs the programme locally with an annual budget of £320,000.

On Monday (17 January) his colleague Bob Schooley, from Portslade, asked the council about its school sport funding plans given the government’s partial u-turn on Monday 20 December.

Councillor Vanessa Brown, the council’s cabinet member for children and young people, said: “It’s not quite clear yet how this School Sports Partnership funding will become available.”

She praised Dorothy Stringer for its work in leading the initiative locally, said that discussions would be held with schools in the area and added: “We value the work done by the School Sports Partnership.”

Campaigners said that the local partnership had achieved numerous successes including

  • Increasing the number of pupils receiving a minimum of two hours of PE a week from 25 per cent in 1997 to 95 per cent last year
  • Maintaining more than 60 after-school clubs alongside inter-schools competitions and events
  • Putting on festivals such as Take Part, Let’s Dance, the athletics championships, and the primary schools cross-country championships
  • Diversifying school sport by maintaining traditional sports and including a range of new activities from fencing to rock climbing
  • Providing expert PE teachers and sports coaches to all local schools
  • Fostering talent with programmes like the Leadership Academy and the Gifted and Talented Programme
  • Doing something proactive to get children fit, find sports they enjoy and tackle problems like obesity
  • Attracting more than 1,000 local volunteers to help with clubs and events – an example the Big Society in action

The petition’s signatories include the Green MP for Brighton Pavilion Caroline Lucas, her Labour predecessor David Lepper and his wife Jeane, who sits as a councillor for Hollingdean and Stanmer, East Brighton Labour councillors Gill Mitchell, Warren Morgan and Craig Turton, Moulsecoomb and Bevendean Labour councillor Mo Marsh and Patcham High School head Paula Sargent.

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