The government says thousands of children will benefit from more sports activities after school and in the school holidays through a £1.6 million funding boost to help schools make better use of their facilities.
As part of a national drive to encourage 60 minutes of physical activity per day across the week, the Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has announced total funding worth £2.4 million for sports activities and teaching, including for schools in 19 areas across England to collaborate with sports organisations to increase the opportunities to use school sports facilities outside the school day.
The Active Partnership Network, supported by Sport England, will set up partnerships between schools and local sport providers, encouraging them to open up their sport facilities for fun and engaging sporting competitions, after school clubs and holiday activities.
The government says the move underlines its manifesto commitment to make sure children get an active start to life – the new investment in school sports facilities builds on plans set out in the Sport and Activity Action Plan to provide safe and familiar environments for children to take part in activities that encourage good physical health as well as important skills for the future, like teamwork and discipline.
As part of plans to extend their facilities to sports and activity clubs outside of teaching hours, schools will be able to generate additional sustainable income from leasing their premises to external organisations at affordable rates.
In partnership with sports charities Active Partnerships and Sport England, the fund will provide sporting opportunities across the country including in North Yorkshire and County Durham, Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes, Greater Manchester, London and Gloucestershire.
In addition to the funding to support extended hours for school sports facilities, nine teaching schools known for their expertise in sport in different parts of the country will share a £500,000 grant to trial new ways to engage the least active pupils and help to develop the skills and confidence of PE teachers. In further efforts to drive up the importance and quality of PE lessons, these nine teaching schools will test new ways to provide high-quality PE lessons that meet Ofsted’s new inspection framework, which requires schools to create opportunities for children to be physically active across the day.
With volunteering rates among young people having increased in recent years, the Department for Education will also award a grant worth £20,000 for Birmingham to increase the number of youth volunteers in the community, ahead of the Commonwealth Games hosted by Birmingham in 2022. This is part of a £300,000 funding package to encourage volunteering opportunities in other parts of the country.
The investments, totalling £2.4 million, forms part of the government’s push to make sport and exercise an integral part of pupils’ daily routine, boosting their physical health, mental wellbeing, character and resilience.