Schools encouraged to open up sports facilities all year round

January 31, 2020

Hundreds of children across the county will benefit from more sports activities after school and in the school holidays through a 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 better 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.

We at Active Cumbria are proud to say that Cumbria is one of the recipients of the funding following a successful application to the Department for Education and Sport England. We aim to set up partnerships between secondary 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.

Bruce Lawson, Senior Manager (Development) at Active Cumbria said:

“I’m delighted that Cumbria has been selected to be part of this nationally funded programme. Active Cumbria is very much looking forward to working with 13 targeted secondary schools located along our coastal area from Silloth to Barrow.

“Initially we are working closely with staff and pupils from each school to gain a better understanding of respective needs, barriers and aspirations. Thereafter, we will be looking to implement a range of new activities and opportunities as a ‘test and learn’ approach with the view to share good practice and scale this up across other schools in the county.”

Becky Underwood who is leading on the project from Active Cumbria said:

“The conversations we have already started to have with schools have led to ideas and interventions being developed from offering a wider range of activities, better promotion to students and their families about what is available to them, as well as specific extra-curricular sessions for their own pupils. Each school and its pupils are unique and so each has a different set of needs and ideas, this project is allowing us to tailor activities and hopefully have an impact within this academic year.”

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.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said:

“By backing schools with this extra money we can make more fun activities available all year round - everything from football to dodgeball – to help children find a sport that they will enjoy and which will keep them healthy.”

“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.”

Sports Minister Nigel Adams said:

“As we outlined last year, our School Sport and Activity Action Plan will mean that all children have access to at least 60 minutes of daily physical activity through quality PE, sport sessions, clubs and facilities inside and outside of school hours.”

“By opening up school sports halls and playing fields to sports clubs and the wider community, we will increase opportunities, particularly for those with the least access and from the most deprived areas and deliver on our manifesto commitment.”

Health Minister Jo Churchill said:

“We all know that exercise has huge benefits for both our physical and mental health - this is especially important for our children and young people as they grow and develop.”

“Sports and physical activity can inspire and empower young people to fulfil their potential and live longer, healthier lives, and it’s fun. This fantastic investment will ensure thousands more children have access to the right facilities.”

The new investment builds on the government’s bold manifesto pledge to level up opportunities for young people across the country and create a £1 billion fund for more high quality wraparound and holiday childcare places. Through today’s plans, parents and carers will benefit from an extended school day, helping to accommodate working patterns after school, at the weekend and during school holidays.

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.

Mike Diaper, Sport England’s Director of Children and Young People said:

“A significant amount of community sports facilities are found in schools. This new funding will help support schools to open up their facilities beyond the school day so they can be used for as long as possible by young people and the wider community and link schools up with great local activities.”

“The 19 Active Partnerships around the country will working with local schools to make it easier, overcome some of the obstacles and share best practice – in what will be a win-win for pupils, community members and local sports clubs.”

Image: Becky Underwood with students at St Josephs, Workington