Specialist Sports Colleges

Oral Answers to Questions — Children, Schools and Families – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 12th November 2007.

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Photo of Philip Hollobone Philip Hollobone Conservative, Kettering 2:30 pm, 12th November 2007

What the criteria are for designating secondary schools as specialist sports colleges, with particular reference to facilities.

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Photo of Jim Knight Jim Knight Minister of State (Schools and Learners), Department for Children, Schools and Families, Minister of State (Department for Children, Schools and Families) (Schools and Learners)

All successful applicants to the specialist schools programme must demonstrate that they have the capacity, including access to the relevant facilities, to take on the challenge of specialist status, to raise standards in the specialism and across the school, and to become a centre of curriculum excellence in their area. That includes raising £50,000, combined with a £100,000 contribution from the Department for Children, Schools and Families, to undertake a capital project to enhance specialist facilities.

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Photo of Philip Hollobone Philip Hollobone Conservative, Kettering

Southfield school for girls in Kettering was designated a specialist sports college in 2004, yet three years later it is still struggling to find appropriate funding for its changing room facilities. A recent Ofsted report said:

"Accommodation is poor and a constraint on students' achievement."

The school tells me that the provision of the proposed five hours a week of high-quality sport and activity will be impossible unless funds are found. Will the Minister assure the House that when designating schools as specialist sports colleges, he will also ensure that they have the funds that they need to provide the appropriate facilities?

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Photo of Jim Knight Jim Knight Minister of State (Schools and Learners), Department for Children, Schools and Families, Minister of State (Department for Children, Schools and Families) (Schools and Learners)

We certainly provide sufficient funds to do that to the local authority. I understand that when that school was designated a specialist sports college there was a sports hall, but it had to be closed after asbestos was discovered. I am pleased to hear that phase 1 of a new sports hall worth £1 million is being opened, with a £100,000 contribution from my Department, £168,000 from new opportunities funding and £250,000 from the county council. We have also just allocated a further £135 million to Northamptonshire—up from £7.5 million 10 years ago—so I hope that the hon. Gentleman will talk to his friends the Tories at county hall in Northamptonshire and get them to fund the next phase.

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