Students lobby over school sport funding cuts

STUDENTS met with MP Neil Parish on Friday to lobby against cuts to school sport funding and campaign for fairer funding for Devon schools.

The meeting was called following the news that the government is pulling funding for School Sport Partnerships as part of its comprehensive funding review.

Partnerships aim to increase the number of participants, competitors, aspiring coaches and young leaders. The East Devon Partnership was established in 2003 as part of The King’s School’s successful Sports College bid.

The funding cut affects eight secondary and 61 primary, infant and special needs schools in East Devon.

Young Sports Ambassadors Patrick Spargo, of The King’s School, and Chrissie Squire, of Axe Valley Community College, met the Tiverton and Honiton representative with King’s headteacher Faith Jarrett and East Devon’s partnership development manager Kevin Moran.

Their aim was to convey what an important role the partnerships play in developing young people’s leadership skills and improving their confidence.

“We were lobbying him to put the case to education secretary, Michael Gove that there are benefits from the programme that haven’t been explored fully,” said Mr Moran.

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“He was fully engaged with what we were saying.”

Mrs Jarrett sought to get a better funding deal for schools in Devon.

She said: “Devon is funded 148 out of 151 local authorities for education in the country, and the Ottery learning community is funded the lowest in Devon, so we’ve been double whammied.”

Mr Parish, who already backs the fairer funding campaign, said he would continue to support a reformulation of the way school funding is allocated, as Devon being so poorly funded was having a “deep impact” on rural communities.

He added that Patrick and Chrissie were articulate and confident in presenting the benefits of the partnership.

“Partnership courses help with young people’s self-esteem and develop leadership skills that will benefit not just themselves, but society as a whole,” he said.