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20 Jul 2023 | 14:14

Coalition partners have welcomed the Government’s new School Sport and Activity Action Plan update as “the first step” in meeting some of the growing challenges being faced by young people around their mental and physical wellbeing and development. 

The two-year Action Plan sets out a number of commitments and associated funding and accountability measures to improve the provision of PE and sport in schools. It is underpinned by £600million Primary PE and Sport Premium funding over the next two academic years, and sets out how Government intends to support senior leaders and teachers to provide high-quality PE for at least two hours a week and deliver a wide range of extra-curricular sport and competitive opportunities to both boys and girls.

OPPORTUNITIES

Also included in the Action Plan is £57million to support access to facilities outside of school hours – with a focus on increasing activity opportunities for girls, disadvantaged pupils and young people with special educational needs and disabilities. Read the full plan here

In responding to the update, Chief Executive of the Youth Sport Trust Ali Oliver MBE said: “There is much we welcome in this Action Plan, not least the clear unequivocal statement, PE and sport is integral to what makes an excellent school. The significant commitment to investment, alongside clear expectations and accountability is much needed.

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“However, we believe this should only be seen as the first step - less than half of children and young people meet the Chief Medical Officer’s guidance of 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day; which impacts on their physical and mental health, as well as progress and achievement in the classroom.” 

Ali, who is also a Board member of the Coalition, added: “The Youth Sport Trust stands ready, alongside partners to work with schools and the Government over the longer term to increase opportunities for activity throughout the school day, ensure equal access, and develop an understanding children learn better when they are active.” Read the full response from the Youth Sport Trust.

SPENDING

Youth Sport Trust and other Coalition partners have identified ‘Closing the gap in education and development’ as a key component of their jointly-designed #OpenGoal Shared Advocacy Framework, which aims to demonstrate how the multiple returns on investment that sport for development offers can help to reduce public spending. 

Another Coalition member, Sports Leaders, features in the Action Plan and its CEO Richard Norman commented: "We are fully supportive and will continue our work with education centres and partners to achieve this alongside the continued success of our Your Time programme." Read more about the Your Time programme for female Sports Leaders in year groups nine to 11.

Andy Taylor, CEO of another key Coalition supporter Active Partnerships, added: "Helping children and young people to get active and stay active has been at the forefront of our recent Opening School Facilities programme. As part of their wider work connecting and convening with partners, our 43-strong Active Partnerships network are supporting over 1250 schools to open up their facilities outside of the school day, for both the benefit of the wider community and those who face the greatest inequalities. Outside of the Opening Schools Facilities programme, our Active Partnership network looks forwards to continuing to work with the Department of Education and partners in collaboration to ensure all young people are able to achieve 60 minutes of physical activity a day through our wider engagement with schools and local stakeholders." Read more.

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Coalition partners and funders also responded to the new Action Plan, with Sport England’s executive director of policy and integrity Jeanette Bain-Burnett commenting: “There are significant health benefits associated with living active lives and physically active children and young people are also more likely to be happy and less likely to feel lonely than those who are less active. We look forward to working with the Government and education sector as a whole to build on [this] plan, so that every unique young person has the chance to enjoy movement, play, exercise and take part in sport in a fun and welcoming environment.” Read more here. 

In a statement from the Association for Physical Education (afPE), CEO Sue Wilkinson MBE said: "The PE workforce welcomes the revision of the two-hour minimum for timetabled PE in schools to enable the achievement of National Curriculum outcomes." The statement added: "Put simply, both now and in the future, PE must be taught by a consistently highly-skilled and well-resourced workforce with an unbroken continuity of political support from both Government and opposition parties." Read more.

REFORM

Lisa Wainwright, Sport and Recreation Alliance CEO, welcomed the Action Plan and called for it to be seen “as the starting point of a journey to ensuring all children and young people enjoy the full benefits of PE and school sport”. Read more here.

She commented: “PE and school sport is vital to building a habit for sport and recreation from a young age. But it needs to form part of a wider and more ambitious approach – underpinned by long-term investment and policy reform – which unites school and community grassroots provision together to sustain these habits both within the school gates and across pitches, pools, courts and halls up and down the country. 

“We remain committed to working with members, sector partners and Government to help deliver the Plan and, in time,  the Government’s new sport strategy. We will also continue to advocate for broader policy reforms which maximise the potential of PE and school sport to support better outcomes for children and young people.” 

Read the full School Sport and Activity Action Plan update