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Tuesday, 27 March, 2001, 10:06 GMT 11:06 UK
Sport linked to school success
School sports
Schools will have upgraded facilities for sport
Schools which are successful at sport are also likely to be successful academically, says a survey.

This "healthy mind, healthy body" finding is drawn as the government announces 130m funding to support sport and the arts in primary schools.

Sport in schools survey
69% pupils more than two hours sport per week
Over half take part in extra-curricular sport
Average PE time for seven year olds: 1.75 hours a week
Average PE time for 11 year olds: 1.95 hours a week
The Schools Minister Jacqui Smith and the Sports Minister Kate Hoey announced on Tuesday that 350 primary schools in England will be receiving funds for improved facilities and playing areas.

The survey of school sport, carried out by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, also found that schools with high participation in sports tended to have lower truancy rates and less bad behaviour.

There have been concerns that school sport has been in long-term decline, with damaging consequences for children's health and the grass roots development of interest in sports.

According to research by Sport England published last year, the amount of sport played in primary schools had reduced by a third in the previous five years.

But the survey from the QCA found that 69% of pupils took part in more than two hours of exercise a week and that more than half of pupils participated in out-of-school sports.

'Long-term investment'

There have also been worries that the arts have been squeezed out of primary schools by the increased pressure on pupils to perform well in academic tests.

But the government's funding, under the Space for Sport and the Arts scheme, is intended to secure access to experiences beyond the curriculum for primary school children.

"Local primary schools are at the heart of their communities and are ideally placed to meet community needs for sport, arts and social activities," said the schools minister.

The money is to be spent on schools in London, the north west, north east and south west.

'Welcome balance'

The funding announcement was welcomed by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, which said that the promotion of sport in primary school was a "welcome balance to the increasing pressure on children to perform well in academic tests from the earliest age".

"Whilst maintaining high standards at the earliest point in schooling is important, we mustn't lose sight of the fact that primary school age children learn an incredible amount from play."

The government has made a number of attempts at supporting sport in school and using sport to make learning more attractive.

Many football clubs now host homework clubs and study centres and in putting money into school sport, the government says it hopes to see long-term benefits in terms of improved health and a lower likelihood of delinquency.

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