The Government has confirmed their intentions of providing £320 million of funding for PE during the 2020/21 academic year having come under pressure from top sporting figures and bodies.
The Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, made the announcement in light of the ongoing Covid-19 crisis which has put financial strain on many sectors across the country. It is believed that the continuation of the funding also falls in line with the government’s plan of emphasising the importance of physical fitness as the world begins to adapt to a new normal.
Passionate athletes including Mo Farah, Lawrence Dallaglio and Hannah Cockroft wrote formal letters to the government, urging them to guarantee that funding be continued for the next academic year which was supported by the sporting bodies Sport England, ukactive and Youth Sports Trust.
The Department of Education has also confirmed that any funding from the current academic year that has not been used, can be utilised during the next year.
The fund is used to support schools in improving their PE programs that are on offer to their pupils, promoting the benefits that regular exercise has both mentally and physically as well as having links to improved behaviour and academic achievement.
The allocation of the fund is determined by a formula dependent upon the number of students in a given school. The average primary school will receive around £18,000 per year.
Williamson spoke about the importance of why the decision was made to continue the funding: “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.”
Tim Hollingsworth, the CEO of Sport England also expressed his delight at the government’s decision.
“We welcome the confirmation of the investment into primary schools for PE, school sport, activity and play.
“It’s never been more needed given the massive disruption to children’s activity levels during lockdown with our research showing that the number of children meeting the Chief Medical Officer’s guidelines has dropped from almost 47 per cent to 19 per cent. Over a third of children say they’ve had less chance to be active because schools are shut.
“When schools return this welcomed investment will play an important part in encouraging schools to prioritise PE and getting children active - which is important not just for their physical health but because being active builds mental resilience and helps children achieve academically.”
Author: Jake Wilkin