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Sport England funding to get more college students playing sport

April 3, 2013

Thousands of students in further education colleges can look forward to better opportunities to get involved in sport thanks to £2 million of National Lottery investment from Sport England.

The funding will be invested into 40 further education colleges, benefitting more than 25,000 college students across England.

Responding to what students said interested them, the colleges will run a range of initiatives including women-only activities and flexible drop-in sessions in sports from archery and futsal to canoeing and netball.

Further education college students play the least sport of young people aged 16 and over who are in education. Sport England’s Active People Survey shows that around 65 per cent of school pupils aged 16 and over do sport at least once a week, compared to 53 per cent of higher education students and 50 per cent of further education students.

Today’s announcement was welcomed by the Minister for Sport, Hugh Robertson. He said: “We want young people to continue to participate in sport when they leave school and to keep it up for life. This funding will help us do that by strengthening sports provision at further education colleges across the country.”

Mike Diaper, Director of Community Sport at Sport England, said: “This funding is another big boost for college sport, giving many more students the chance to take advantage of more sporting opportunities. We need to make sure that doing sport is a convenient choice for young people as they move not only from school to college but also from college to further study, university or employment.”

One project to benefit is East Durham College. Having consulted over 800 students on what would make them play more sport, the college is revamping its sporting activity by offering free gym inductions and use of its fitness gym to all students, and linking up with local sports groups to give students the opportunity to join a club and play sport outside of college. Gaps in the students’ timetables have also been identified by the college. During these times, the college will offer students the chance to take part in multi-sport activities with specialist coaches.

Rose Fraser, Sport Development Officer at the college, said: “This Lottery funding means we can provide an inclusive programme for all college students. Having listened to the students’ voice we can now offer them access to sport-specific coaches in a broad range of activities, inspiring them to start and enjoy sport and increase their level of activity.

“We believe our project will improve the health and well-being of our students, raising their aspirations and their quality of life in college.”

The investment from the Further Education Activation Fund will also enable a number of colleges to work together more closely, sharing facilities and expertise. It will also support the work of the 153 College Sport Makers recruited through £17 million of Lottery investment from Sport England, announced earlier this year.

Clare Howard, Head of Sport Policy at The Association of Colleges, said: “The first round of Sport England FE Activation Funding will give a huge boost to colleges, supporting the delivery of projects that increase regular sport participation and reducing the numbers of young people dropping out of sport. Colleges will use the fund to develop the range and frequency of sporting provision, improve the quality of sport and, in many cases, try something different. The Activation Fund awards will enhance the great work already taking place in further education and continue the development of sport and physical activity in colleges, helping to improve higher education and sustainable employment opportunities for 900,000 young people.”

More colleges will be able to benefit from the Further Education Activation Fund with an additional £6 million available through the second round of funding, which opens in December 2013.

The funding is part of Sport England’s five-year £1 billion Youth and Community Strategy which is helping more people than ever to get involved in sport. There are 15.5 million people playing sport every week, an increase of 1.57 million since 2005/06.

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