School sport and activity action plan launched

Author: Jo Carlowe
School sport and activity action plan launched

The government has announced a range of measures to promote a joined-up approach to physical activity and mental wellbeing for children.

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, and explain how teachers and parents can play their part.

The aim will be for children to have access to 60 minutes of daily sport and physical activity, whether that be in school, after school or during weekends and holidays.

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.

Ofsted’s new Inspection Framework comes into effect from September 2019. As Amanda Spielman, HM chief inspector of education, said last weekend: “Schools that offer children a broad, balanced education, including plenty of opportunities to get active during the school day and through extracurricular activities, will be rewarded under our new inspection regime.”

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 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 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.

Public health minister, Seema Kennedy, said: “Making exercise both fun and accessible to all children is a key part of healthy development.

“Obesity is on the rise, and schools have a vital role in achieving our ambition to halve childhood obesity by 2030. The sugar tax is already funding school sports across the country and we are encouraging all primary schools to get their pupils active for a mile a day as part of our world-leading childhood obesity plan.

“This pledge is a vital step in making sure that our children grow up healthy, active and happy. The School Sport and Activity Action Plan will build on these successes, increasing access to sport and activity for every child so they can reap all the health benefits this brings.”

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.

More detail on the actions in the plan will be published later this year.