Now it appears that there's been some kind of reprieve.
Today Gove said he would pay £47m to keep the SSPs going until summer 2011. They were originally due to lose all their funding from the end of next March.
A further £65m will also guarantee that all schools can release one PE teacher for one day a week from 2011 to 2013, to promote pupils' participation in a range of PE and sporting activities – a key feature of the current system.Actually, it doesn't look particularly generous, does it? Another couple of months, and they still lose all their funding.
What worries me is Gove's "new approach for school sports".
Gove sought to portray today's announcement as the beginning of the new system of school sport that he had previously said he wanted, putting extra emphasis on competitive, inter-school sport, but without specifying how that would happen.It's only in this country, as far as I know, that we put so much into competition at a young age in sport, as opposed to actually teaching skills, and allowing children to enjoy themselves. It's exemplified by picking the biggest, not necessarily best, kids for the school football team, in the hope of physically overpowering the opposition.
It's an approach that isn't copied elsewhere. Holland, in particular, has for many years blazed its own trail in teaching kids about the fundamentals of football, rather than insisting on winning at all costs.
In the mid-1980s, the father of total football, Rinus Michels, penned his thoughts on youth football. One key belief was that kids’ football should not replicate the adult game. Another was that it should be enjoyable, with everyone involved and lots of chances to score. Now, across the Netherlands, his ideas are used. At the age of 5, games are four-a-side. At 9 they progress to seven-a-side on half-sized pitches. Finally, at 13, they play 11-a-side on regulation pitches. “If you have kids playing football then give them a ball,” Rob de Leede, of the KNVB, the Dutch FA, said. “We don’t want people doing drills and waiting for 15 minutes for their turn.”And that goes a big way towards explaining why Holland have qualified for three World Cup Finals, and one European Championship Final, in the last 44 years, where England have qualified for none. Michael Gove isn't going to start turning that about any time soon.