A guide for school governors on the Primary PE and Sport Premium

Vicci Wells, national manager for targeted interventions at the Youth Sport Trust, blogs about the role that school governors can play in advising schools on the Primary PE and Sport Premium.

As a school governor and MAT trustee, I know the key role governing bodies play in schools. I know too that we sometimes need help in getting our heads around initiatives so that we can best support our Head Teachers and staff team.

After seeing a significant rise in the number of questions from governors over the past month, I felt it was important to pull together some content that is intended to support our collective understanding of the role we play in how the Primary PE and Sport Premium should be used. This funding is aimed at developing sustainable Physical Education in our primary schools that will help children develop the physical literacy that will be as important in their lives as the literacy and numeracy that we all work so hard to support.

The difference between Physical Education, physical activity and sport

The terms ‘Physical Education’, ‘physical activity’ and ‘sport’ are often used interchangeably but it is important for governors to understand the difference between them to provide the best possible sporting start in life for young people.

Physical Education is the foundation. It is that planned, progressive learning within the taught curriculum that is delivered by teachers, that ensures all young people achieve physical literacy. Developing on from these experiences, schools should also provide extra-curricular opportunities that develop life-long healthy, active lifestyles and competitive sport participation as well as forming that vital link with community sport and activity.

Funding allocations and responsibilities

The Primary PE and Sport Premium has been allocated directly to primary schools since 2013, and in April this year, schools received the confirmation that it will continue into 2019-20.

This funding is allocated to headteachers in primary schools and is ring fenced, meaning it can only be spent on PE and sport in primary schools. This premium must be used to fund additional and sustainable improvements to the provision of PE and sport to benefit primary aged pupils and to encourage the development of healthy, active lifestyles.

If we consider our core functions as school governors/Multi Academy Trustees we need to:

  1. Ensure clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction
  2. Hold executive leaders to account for the educational performance of the organisation and its pupils, and the effective and efficient performance management of staff
  3. Oversee the financial performance of the organisation and make sure its money is well spent

Therefore, it is the responsibility of the whole of the governing board to monitor how funding is allocated and ensure the impact is measured and reported.

Primary PE and School Sport Premium reporting

These reports must be available on the school website and will be scrutinized by Ofsted. I would also advocate it is good practice for the board to appoint a named governor who will work with both the subject lead and school to oversee progress. Our governing boards are absolutely crucial in deciding how the funding is used and challenging headteachers to ensure that every school makes the most of this money to create its own sporting legacy.

In my governance roles I am both Chair of a primary school board, as well as a Trustee in a MAT which has three schools in receipt of the Primary PE and Sport Premium. At a MAT level we have developed Trustee link roles, of which PE and school sport is one. This ensures that the premium is not only discussed at strategic board level, but also that there is consistency in the monitoring of the premium to ensure it is being most effectively utilised for the benefit of all pupils. At a school level, in a link governor role it is important to ensure there are regular meetings with subject leads and the head teacher to both support and challenge the spend and provision to maximise its impact.

In terms of the way schools use the premium, a recent report from the Department for Education (DfE) found that most use it to buy new equipment or improve facilities, upskill existing staff, and/or increase extracurricular sport (over 8 in 10 schools in each case). The report also highlighted that a range of people are involved in deciding how to spend the premium in schools, with 41% of schools mentioning the school governors’ role.

Top tips

Below are some top tips and suggested key questions for governors in order to support, challenge, monitor and evaluate the impact from your school in relation to this spend.

Autumn term:

  • Discuss plans for allocation of funding for the coming year
  • Are proposed plans aligned with the school development plan? Have they been informed by both pupils and staff?
  • Do you know what specific outcomes the school is aiming to achieve? For example, in improving progress and skills, better attendance, increasing opportunities and activities for pupils
  • Does your school have a designated subject leader for PE? What is their role in deciding how the premium is to be spent and how do they work with senior leaders to review and plan for this?
  • Does your school website have an up to date report on the previous academic year’s premium? By now all schools in receipt of the premium should have produced an online impact report by 31 July 2019. For 2020, the deadline is also 31 July. There are a range of tools available to help your schools measure and report on the impact of the premium and these can be found here: www.youthsporttrust.org/PE-sport-premium

Spring term:

  • Meet with key staff to understand and review progress against planned targets and outcomes
  • Consider whether as a school you have external coaches being deployed to deliver PE and extracurricular activities. If so, do you know if they are working alongside teachers to improve practice thereby securing long-term impact? (Sports coaches should not be leading curriculum PE lessons as part of planning, preparation and assessment arrangements)
  • Question how your pupils are getting a better chance to compete and learn lessons about teamwork, self-discipline and resilience through sport.  Most respondents in the DfE report (over 9 in 10) indicated that there was now a broader range of PE and sport being offered to all pupils.

Summer term:

  • Meet with key staff to understand and review progress against planned targets and outcomes
  • Discuss plans for allocation of funding for the next academic year

To conclude, Ofsted’s new Inspection Framework, which came into effect from September 2019, gives greater recognition to schools’ work to support the personal development of pupils, such as the opportunities they have to learn about eating healthily and maintaining an active lifestyle. Inspectors will expect to see schools delivering a broad, ambitious education, including opportunities to be active during the school day and through extra-curricular activities. As governors we should support and challenge our schools in how they use their PE and Sport Premium to support this and contribute to their overall strategy of raising achievement and improving standards.

Further key questions to consider under the Ofsted judgements:

Quality of education

  • How much time does our school devote to the teaching of Physical Education?
  • How does our school ensure that the Physical Education curriculum is engaging and stretching for all pupils?
  • Where external providers are being used either in PE lessons or extra-curricular activities, how does the school asses the quality and impact of their delivery?

Behavior and attitudes

  • How does Physical Education and school sport contribute to the overall attitude, behaviour and achievement of all our pupils?
  • Do our staff understand the purpose of the PE and Sport Premium and how it is being spent for their pupils?

Personal Development

  • How does our school ensure the extra-curricular programme is of a high quality and delivered safely?  
  • How does our school ensure that physical activity contributes to the health and wellbeing of all our pupils?
  • Is a varied programme of extra-curricular sport and physical activity offered to pupils and are they engaged in deciding what activities are provided?

Leadership and management

  • Does our school have a clear vision for high quality Physical Education and school sport that contributes to the whole school development plan?
  • Do we have a strategy for ensuring effective professional development in Physical Education?
  • Does the school research practice and activities in other schools and access resources to support effective use of the premium?