PE and Sport Premium: Relief as £600m confirmed for next two years

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

There is relief this week after the government confirmed that the PE and Sport Premium is to continue from September with £600m in funding across two years.

Campaigners had been calling on ministers to confirm the funding, warning that schools needed to know urgently in order to plan sports provision from September.

Primary schools currently receive the 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 Department for Education (DfE) has also confirmed that there is to be a new digital tool for the PE and Sport Premium to support schools in using the funding in the most effective ways. The DfE says that schools will receive updated guidance this summer.

The news came as the DfE also revealed plans to require schools to deliver a minimum two hours of curriculum PE a week. Ministers have also introduced a new standard requiring schools to offer equal access to sports for boys and girls, with the School Games Mark to be expanded to reward schools for parity of provision.

And a new funding pot of up to £57m will support schools to open their sport facilities outside of hours. This funding is especially targeted at girls, disadvantaged pupils, and those with SEND.

The Youth Sport Trust has welcomed the confirmation of the renewed premium funding. CEO Ali Oliver said: “The confirmation of this funding is vital to the growth and development of a vibrant school sport culture in schools which, in turn, is fundamentally important to children’s health and wellbeing.

“Schools in England will be relieved they now have the certainty needed to plan PE, sport and physical activity provision for the next two academic years.”

School leaders this week also welcomed the funding. However, they pointed out that the “vast majority” of schools will already be offering equal access to sports and called for a “reality check” when it came to the “multitude of expectations” on curriculum time and resources.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “There does need to be a reality check. School timetables are crammed with a multitude of expectations from the government in all sorts of areas and it is a constant battle to find the time for everything.

“There is a real need for a comprehensive curriculum review that slims down expectations and gives the right weighting to all these competing demands.”

His counterpart at the National Association of Head Teachers, Paul Whiteman, agreed: "The setting of an arbitrary target is not helpful. Schools are already dealing with a crammed curriculum and many school leaders will be questioning how they will be able to fit this in with all the other pressures they are facing. Government cannot simply keep loading more and more expectations on schools.”

The DfE said that schools would be supported to meet the two-hour target with a “refreshed” School Sport and Activity Action Plan, which was originally published in 2019.

Ms Oliver said that this updated plan would be crucial to the DfE achieving its goals: “Our vision is every child, regardless of gender, affluence, or ethnicity, can access the benefits that come from play and sport. Active children are not only healthier and happier, but they also perform better in the classroom.

"However, to realise this vision, we hope to see government quickly follow this announcement with a coherent and joined-up strategy through a renewed School Sport and Activity Action Plan.”

Elsewhere, the DfE has pledged £22m for the School Games Organiser network for the next two years. The network currently supports 28,000 competitive school sport events every year.

Ms Oliver is concerned that the current capacity of the network means it cannot meet demand: “We remain concerned about the capacity of the locally embedded School Games Organisers to meet school needs and young people’s ambitions.

“On average each organiser is tasked with supporting 53 schools, based on the current funding formula this is unrealistic in the two to three days a week they are given.”

The DfE has also confirmed that work to deliver the £57m opening school facilities programme will be led by a consortium including Active Partnerships, the Youth Sport Trust, ukactive, and StreetGames. The DfE hopes this funding will benefit up to 1,350 schools.

And the School Games Mark, which is delivered by the Youth Sport Trust, will now assess parity of provision in PE and extra-curricular sport. The award recognises schools that create “positive sporting experiences across all sports for young people”. It particularly aims to support young people to be active for 60 minutes a day.

In making the announcements, prime minister Rishi Sunak said he wanted schools to build on the legacy of the Lionesses victory in last year’s Euros football tournament: “We want schools to build on this legacy and give every girl the opportunity to do the same sports as boys, as well as provide a minimum of two hours of PE. This means every child can benefit from regular exercise.”

The Youth Sport Trust is campaigning for a “national ambition” for children’s activity levels – not least the recommended 60 active minutes every day – and for more accountability “around the outcomes of the Primary PE and Sport Premium”.

Alongside all of this, Ofsted is due to publish a report into PE in the coming months which will inform future inspections.

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