Considering the Primary PE and Sport Premium

Kate Thornton-Bousfield is Head of PE and Achievement at the Youth Sport Trust. Here, she blogs about what might have been lost if the primary PE and Sport Premium funding had not been secured for 2020/21.

The clock struck midnight as we entered the early hours of Sunday 5 July, as a flutter of activity across social media platforms began. As people were returning from their first drink in the pub, from a meal at friends or as I was doing…watching another Netflix series, the long-awaited announcement came from the Department for Education that there would be a continuation of the Primary PE and Sport Premium funding for 2020/21. Champagne corks were popped, social distancing high fives were exchanged and a sense of relief was felt across the Primary PE, Physical Activity and School Sport (PESSPA) sector.

However, this left me wondering: “How different would we be feeling now if the announcement was not a positive one - and that funding had been cut, or worse, disappeared?”

My response - very differently, and I think now is the time to stop and reflect on: “what if?”

How many of you were secure in the knowledge that if the announcement had gone the other way, your school would have been okay because you have used the funding to embed PESSPA, creating a culture and ethos that is now the norm and one which has buy in across the school community?

IMPACT and SUSTAINABILITY are two words that spring to mind, so let’s look back and review the impact of the funding and consider what would be lost if the funding announcement did not come, and what can be done to prevent this sense of fear this time next year?

The health of young people has always been a major concern, a fair amount of the premium funding has been dedicated to key indicator one in ensuring children are physically active for at least an hour a day. We’ve seen playgrounds redesigned, activity trails and tracks installed, daily activity breaks implemented into the school day, targeted intervention and active learning all taking place. All things that can be sustained without investment, but can the same be said for the use of the funding across the four other key indicators?

So, I challenge you to stop and reflect:

  • What would you change about your past few years of Primary PE Premium investment?
  • How will the pandemic affect your planning this academic year?
  • Will you think differently about the funding going forward?

What would you change about your past few years of Primary PE Premium investment?

Where has the focus been placed with your premium funding? Has it built on what you have always done, very much doing more of the same, or has it been used to challenge thinking and practice, adopt new approaches and reach all pupils? Has the spend been progressive year on year to build up to a point of sustainable impact?

For example, let us consider the teaching of high-quality PE. Where would you be now if the funding had ceased? If the external provider can no longer come to school to teach PE, are your teachers ready to pick up where the provider left off? It is so important that the funding is used to ensure every teacher feels confident and is competent to teach and assess National Curriculum PE, that all teachers have the opportunity to teach PE over the academic year and that they have access to relevant training and support to enable them to do so.

The same can be said of extracurricular activities and school sport. We have seen a huge increase in the number of opportunities for our young people, however, these are often provided through partnership working, community clubs and private providers. Without the funding how many of these will still be on offer to ALL pupils?

How will the pandemic affect your planning this academic year?

The pandemic has certainly ‘knocked us all for six’, and the impact on young people is yet to be known and fully understood, but we do know that the needs of young people are going to be great and varied.

We have pupils transitioning back into the school environment and I encourage you all to have wellbeing as the focus before any ‘catch up’ is considered. The Youth Sport Trust have put in place a model for recovery to help children, families, staff and schools recover. I think this model works well when considering the role the Primary PE and Sport Premium can play.


A must-do exercise, and a requirement of your funding is to report on the impact by July 31. This should provide you with that reflective moment.

Can everything you achieved be sustained without the funding? If the answer is no, it’s time to reimagine! You will be starting to understand what your young people need, their needs will be different, you won’t be doing what you’ve always done, it’s time to think differently.

What can you confidently resume investing your PE Premium with knowing the impact is really sustainable? And how can we learn from the fears of the past few months to develop our resilience and future proof further impact without funding.

Published on 14 July 2020