The Government’s lockdown exit plan published today (22 February 2021) has confirmed that:
- All schools in England will return from 8 March from when under-18 sport can take place at school as part of educational provision, or as part of wraparound care. Wraparound care will be to enable parents or carers to work, seek work, attend education, seek medical care or attend a support group.
- From 29 March, the Government will also allow outdoor sports facilities to reopen, broadening the options for outdoor exercise and recreation. These facilities, such as tennis and basketball courts, and swimming pools, can be used by people in line with the wider social contact limits. Formally organised outdoor sports – for adults and under 18s - can also restart and will not be subject to the gatherings limits, but should be compliant with guidance issued by national governing bodies. This will also be when inter-school sport can resume.
- As part of step two of the lockdown relaxations, no earlier than 12 April, all children will be able to attend any indoor children's activity, including sport, regardless of circumstance.
Read the new operational guidance for schools, updated by the Department for Education on 22 February 2021, here.
Responding to the announcement, Youth Sport Trust Chief Executive Ali Oliver said:
We are really pleased that government has taken these initial steps to put children’s overall wellbeing at the heart of their plan, and thank them for bringing back youth sport as soon as it is safe to do so.
Young people have missed out on so much and we know the last year has taken a significant toll on their wellbeing, so it is absolutely right that they are prioritised.
Huge credit should go to the many school sport and activity partners representing thousands of community organisations who have together made such a powerful case to get young people back playing sport as a national priority.
As a country, we are all indebted to school leaders and staff who have worked tirelessly to maintain education during such a turbulent year, and who will now be helping young people to rebuild their confidence, sense of belonging, and wellbeing through a broad and balanced curriculum and enrichment programme.
To support them, the Youth Sport Trust and partners including national governing bodies of sport, charities and activity providers have united behind the concept of an Active Recovery term, characterised by daily physical activity, time outdoors and a greater focus on Physical Education and sport. We will be making ideas, content and resources which support engagement, learning and recovery, easy to access and free to use.
In the longer term, we continue to call on the government to make a bold and courageous commitment to a national ambition for our young people to be the happiest and most active in the world. This should be underpinned by a renewed national strategy to tackle inactivity and recover young people’s wellbeing.