Children will have a greater opportunity to access 60 minutes of daily sport and physical activity, whether that be in school, after school or during weekends and holidays, under new Government plans.
The School Sport and Activity Action Plan, outlined by Education Secretary Damian Hinds, Sport Minister Mims Davies and Minister for Public Health, Seema Kennedy, will set out a range of new measures to strengthen the role of sport within a young person’s daily routine, explain how teachers and parents can play their part, and promote a joined-up approach to physical activity and mental wellbeing.
It comes after the latest data from Sport England’s Active Lives Children and Young People survey showed that a third of children are currently doing fewer than 30 minutes of physical activity a day.
As part of the plan, the Government has committed to launch a series of regional pilots to trial innovative approaches to getting more young people active, particularly less active groups such as girls and those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Schools and sports clubs will also work together to share their facilities and expertise, giving more pupils access to character-building competitive sport and volunteering opportunities. They will focus on ensuring boys and girls have an equal and coordinated offer of sport, competition and activity, including modern PE lessons and access to high-quality clubs and competitions after school and during weekends and holidays.
The pilots will be joint-funded by the Department for Education and Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport through Sport England, and are expected to run from September 2020.
The Department for Education has also committed £2.5 million in 2019-20 to deliver extra training for PE teachers, help schools open up their facilities at weekends and during the holidays, and expand sports volunteering programmes to give more young people the opportunity to become sports leaders and coaches.
Sport England will invest an additional £2 million to create 400 new after-school ‘satellite clubs’ to get more young people in disadvantaged areas active, as well as additional funding to better coordinate sport programmes and competitions for young people.
The plan will build on the £1 billion that the Government has invested since 2013 to improve sport in primary schools through the PE and Sport Premium. This funding has already helped schools give more choice to their pupils – Bolton on Swale Primary School in North Yorkshire asked pupils what activities they wanted to try and used its PE and Sport Premium to offer canoeing, volleyball, climbing and table tennis. Sport England is also investing £194 million in children and young people between 2016 and 2021.
New research published by the Department for Education found that nine out of ten primary teachers surveyed thought the confidence, knowledge or skills of all staff in teaching PE had increased since the PE and Sport Premium was doubled in 2017. Eight out of ten thought that the proportion of pupils doing 30 minutes of exercise a day in school had increased, while the same proportion said their pupils had more competitive sport opportunities.
The Government and Sport England will work with a range of sporting bodies including the Football Association, Premier League, England and Wales Cricket Board and the Rugby Football Union to ensure that their clubs and programmes can reach even more children, encouraging them to get active by focusing on fun, enjoyment and increasing confidence.
All schools will be urged to recognise how physical literacy and high-quality, modern PE lessons can benefit other aspects of school life and improve pupils’ behaviour, wellbeing and attainment. They will also be encouraged to use sports leaders and mentoring schemes to ensure pupils have a say in developing their schools’ sports offer. Schools will be encouraged to offer a range of activities that appeal to young people from different backgrounds, including girls and less active groups.
Drawing upon the successful This Girl Can campaign, which has inspired over 3.9 million women and girls to take steps to get active, Sport England will also provide £1 million to develop a digital resource for girls. This will include a new Netflix-style library of workout videos that can be used in schools and PE lessons.
By making sport and exercise an integral part of pupils’ daily routine, the School Sport and Activity Action Plan will aim to increase the amount of time children spend being active, boosting their physical health, mental wellbeing, character and resilience.
The Chief Medical Officers’ guidance on daily physical activity levels sets out that children should do at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day. Schools should ensure all pupils have access to 30 minutes of physical activity every day, which are currently delivered through PE lessons and lunchtime sports clubs as well as innovative activities such as The Daily Mile, and building in activity to classroom lessons, with 30 minutes also delivered outside the school day.