Edward Timpson: Primary PE and Sport Premium funding

by Edward Timpson, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families

Over the next couple of days maintained schools and academies will start to receive their second instalment of the primary PE and Sport Premium for the current academic year.

It’s been a pleasure to visit schools over the last six months and to see for myself how the investment is transforming PE and sport in many schools, including St Brigid’s Catholic Primary School in Birmingham which I visited with the Prime Minister and Gary Lineker. Having evaluated their strengths and weaknesses, the school is investing in high-quality staff development, working with other local primary schools to employ a PE and sports co-ordinator to increase participation in leagues and tournaments, as well as linking to sport in the community with Aston Villa FC and developing their Change4Life club.

Thanks to the tireless efforts of teachers and PE co-ordinators, as well as organisations working in schools such as the Youth Sport Trust, this is a pattern I’ve seen repeated across the country, including in my own patch in Crewe and Nantwich. Schools such as Swanton Morley Primary School in Norfolk are focusing on sustainable improvements in the quality of PE teaching. To do this they’re working with other local schools to employ specialist practitioners to work with existing staff so that all primary pupils, including the least active, improve their health, skills and physical literacy.

Improving the activity levels of the least active in the longer term is not just a priority for me, but also a priority across government. That’s why earlier this year with the support of Lord Coe, we launched our Moving More, Living More campaign, which aims to boost physical activity as a key legacy of London 2012. Evidence shows that pupils who really enjoy PE and sport are more likely to feel positive and happy, and active children tend to do better in their academic studies. Watch out for some great ideas to encourage the least active as part of this year’s Change4Life summer campaign.

All this is great stuff, but it’s important to stress that there’s still work to be done to improve the quality of PE and sport even further. For example, the best use of high-quality coaches is often to work with existing staff. In this way teachers broaden their skills, and the coaches can be supported to adapt their work to fit with the school’s overall curriculum. I would also encourage you to make sure you employ good quality coaches who have the skills and experience to make a real difference.

I’m also pleased to see schools publicising their use of the premium to parents through their websites. This is a requirement of the grant and helps parents and the public understand the great work schools are doing, as well as promoting better links with community sports.

Finally, as we move into summer, I’d like to wish all participants in the upcoming regional festivals of the School Games the best of luck and I’m looking forward to celebrating the PE and sporting successes of many more schools as part of School Sport Week in June. We may even get to enjoy the World Cup!