Call for clarity over future of £320m PE and Sport Premium

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
Image: Adobe Stock

Primary schools are beginning to plan cuts to sporting provision due to continued confusion over the future of the £320m PE and Sport Premium.

The Department for Education (DfE) has yet to confirm whether the funding will continue for the 2023/24 academic year.

However, the Youth Sport Trust is warning that schools need clarity now in order to support their planning and safeguard existing provision.

A snapshot survey of 405 primary schools carried out by the charity over the past month has found that 73% of the schools would be unable to maintain their current physical activity and after-school sport offer unless the Primary PE and Sport Premium funding continues.

Schools receive the premium funding based on the number of pupils in years 1 to 6, with most schools getting £16,000 as well as an additional payment of £10 per pupil.

The government recommends that half of children’s 60 daily active minutes should come during the school day. However, the research suggests that only 46% of the schools believe they would be able to offer this from September if the premium is discontinued.

Furthermore, 68% of the primary schools said they would no longer be able to offer after-school sport sessions, while 55% said they would have to discontinue top-up swimming lessons for those least confident in the water.

Other cuts cited by schools include the specific sport coaching (68%), lunchtime clubs (55%), and external activity visits (55%).

The research finds that unless the premium funding is confirmed, many schools will begin the process as early as next month of planning for cuts to provision from September.

Impact: Respondents to the Youth Sport Trust survey were asked what the impact would be if the PE and Sport Premium is axed (source: Youth Sport Trust)

Youth Sport Trust CEO Ali Oliver said: “This delay comes at what cost to young people? This is the question we have to ask at this time. We are very aware of the range of pressing issues the government is dealing with, but this is surely something that requires little debate.

“The nation’s children are desperately in need of the life-changing benefits that come from play and sport, and there is a compelling evidence base that more active children are not only healthier and happier, but they also perform better in the classroom.

“During a cost-of-living crisis provision of PE and after-school sport becomes even more important, as families with the lowest incomes have to cut back on activities in the evening and weekends.”

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