Using local school premises for creative and sporting summer clubs will reveal the ‘shocking’ lack of resources in the education sector, according to a Portadown teacher.
Susan Thompson, President of the Ulster Teachers’ Union and vice principal at Hart Memorial Primary, was responding to claims that school facilities could be forced to open over summer to help address childhood obesity and crime.
“While of course addressing obesity and crime is important this approach poses many questions,” she said.
“Every week it seems we’re hearing of schools cutting back on their spending in areas like the creative arts and sports so for a start it’s doubtful how suitable school facilities will be to host such events over summer.
“In terms of using sporting facilities we would suggest that resources might be better spent addressing the lack of engagement in PE by a significant number of, especially girls, during the other 10 months of the year.
“Why, if they’re not interested in PE at school will the same young people want to spend their holidays in similar activities?
“So as a way to tackle childhood obesity, as has been suggested, this idea seems flawed.
“Let’s prioritise the term-time classes and address the shocking lack of funding there before resources are pumped into summer schools.
“On a very practical level other questions would also need to be addressed, such as how well school sports facilities are managed currently and are there appropriate systems in place to protect both the school and their community users?
“Are appropriate safeguards in place relating to insurance and health and safety issues? Is there appropriate financial planning and perhaps most importantly, will schools have to foot repairs and renewal costs?
“On the positive side, if the scheme did work it could of course address children’s inactivity over summer, while giving them structured time could even perhaps cut-down on anti-social behaviour – not to mention relieve parents of the summer child-minding headache.
”However, while similar schemes already exist in some schools here, a wider uptake would take careful planning to ensure that schools had no extra outlay as a result.”