SCHOOL pupils in the town will be able to continue enjoying sporting projects after the government agreed to continue subsidising the school sports system.

Education Secretary, Michael Gove, had originally decided to scrap funding for the School Sports Partnership (SSP), which helps to increase sporting opportunities for children.

But after a parliamentary debate and high profile opposition to the cuts, led by sports stars, headteachers and some MPs, the Education Secretary agreed to pay £47m to keep SSPs going until the end of the summer term.

After that, the government is promising that £65m will be available in 2011/12 and 2012/13 to ensure one PE teacher per school is released for a day a week to ensure efforts to boost competitive sports are “embedded”.

Among the MPs opposed to the scrapping of the SSPs was Justin Tomlinson, MP for North Swindon.

Although this was significantly lower than the original grant of £162m, Mr Tomlinson said that it was sufficient to keep the scheme going.

He said: “A lot of the original funding was for start up costs which are no longer needed.

“It’s about giving opportunities to people who want to engage in sport and it gives them a taster.

“I’ve visited lots of schools and I have seen the benefits first hand.”

The Schools Sports Partnership supports joint initiatives between primary, secondary and specialist state schools designed to increase sporting opportunities for children.

More than 70 top British athletes, including Olympic heptathlon champion Denise Lewis and world diving champion Tom Daley, wrote to David Cameron saying that ending the partnerships was “ill-conceived” and risked efforts to deliver a “genuine legacy” from the 2012 London Olympics, in terms of encouraging sports participation.

Mr Tomlinson has also highlighted the fact that schools have difficulty in funding sports trips due to the cost of insurance.

He said: “It costs quite a lot and if a school is pressured on their budget it can often be left out.

“I made the suggestion for the government to purchase a national insurance scheme and benefit from the economies of scale rather than paying for individual projects.”

Assistant SSP manager in Swindon, Andy Steckbeck, said: “It’s a start but the funding is only for competitive sport and that’s only one part of what we do.

“We’re looking for commercial sponsorship in addition to the funding to help us out.

“Justin has been great in helping to fight our cause.”