PE and Sport Premium underspends can be rolled over to September

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

Any PE and Sport Premium funding that went unspent by schools because of the coronavirus lockdown can be rolled over to the next academic year, it has been confirmed, but must be spent by March.

It comes as the Department for Education has confirmed that it will maintain the £320 million PE and Sport Premium funding for the 2020/21 academic year.

The PE and Sport Premium is a ring-fenced grant for English primary schools to provide “additional and sustainable improvements to the quality of PE, sport and physical activity”. Allocations to schools are determined by a formula based on pupil numbers. The average one-form entry primary school will receive around £18,000 per year.

Any schools rolling over unspent funds from this academic year must explain in the underspend in their online report. Rolled over funds will need to be spent by the end of March 2021.

Updated government guidance states: “Where schools are carrying forward under-spends, their published online report should set out the amount being carried forward and give brief reasons for this underspend. Any under-spends carried forward will need to be spent in full by March 31, 2021 and schools should factor this into spending plans for their 2020 to 2021 PE and Sport Premium allocation.” (DfE, 2020)

It comes as research from Sport England shows that the number of children meeting the Chief Medical Officer’s recommended 60 minutes a day of exercise or physical activity has dropped notably.

Before the lockdown, roughly two-thirds of children were doing the recommended 60 minutes. However, a meeting of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee in May heard evidence from Sport England that during lockdown, 44 per cent of children were either doing no activity or less than half an hour each day.

It is now feared that as few as 19 per cent of children are now meeting the daily 60-minute recommendation. Furthermore, more than a third of children say they have had less chance to be active because schools have been shut to the majority of pupils.

Education secretary Gavin Williamson said: “During these challenging times, it has become clearer to me than ever the importance of keeping active and how it benefits not just our physical health but also our ability to pay attention, our mood and our mental health too.

“Every family will have had a different experience of the pandemic, and I know that many children will have missed time spent outdoors with their friends – that’s why it’s so important that ahead of a full return to school in September, schools get the certainty they need to prepare their PE and sports activities for next year.”

Commenting on the news, Youth Sport Trust chief executive Ali Oliver said: “As young people return to school, their wellbeing will be one of the biggest priorities. Sport and PE have an essential role to play in children’s recovery, particularly following a period of lockdown which has seen too many either become less active or completely inactive.

“Many primary schools will be using this funding to improve provision of PE and sport and to develop teachers’ confidence to deliver it, positioning PE and sport at the core of schools’ work to improve pupils’ health, wellbeing and ability to learn.”

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