Boost for children with SEND accessing inclusive PE and sport

A ‘lifechanging’ three-year Government programme has supported more than 70,000 young people, including many with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), to access inclusive PE and school sport.

New data released by the Youth Sport Trust has revealed PE and school sport experiences have rapidly improved for disabled children through the Inclusion 2024 programme.  

Young people have been taking part in more inclusive and accessible PE lessons, school swimming, para sports as part of fun festivals, and learning key life and leadership skills.  

The programme has brought about change by building support systems, working with a range a stakeholders and empowering an expert network of schools which have a wealth of insights and experiences in making PE and sport inclusive to help other schools around the country. 

For young disabled people, the Chief Medical Officers’ recommendation is for a minimum of 20 minutes of physical activity every day. Over the last two years, the programme has helped to increase the number of disabled children achieving 20 minutes of high-quality PE and sport a day in schools and ensuring that those active minutes are tailored to them. 

To date Inclusion 2024 has seen: 

  • Over a third (38.5%) of schools reported an increase in the proportion of children with SEND achieving 60 active minutes (more than the recommend 20 minutes a day for young people with a disability by the Chief Medical Officer) since having contact with Inclusion 2024. Two-thirds (67%) are achieving 30 minutes of activity a day  
  • 1,417 young people (38% with SEND) trained on a youth leadership pathway giving them skills to lead inclusive sport and activity sessions  
  • 14,616 young people (82% with SEND) given the opportunity to try para sports like basketball and curling as well as experience a Paralympic or Commonwealth Games inspired festival 
  • 6,411 young people with SEND started on their learn to swim journey and equipped them with key water safety advice. 49,816 young people in total have received lifesaving skills.  
  • 28,205 employees in the school workforce supported with continuing professional development to ensure sport and Physical Education is inclusive for every child (since 2022). 5,821 schools have received inclusive PE training. 

The Inclusion 2024 consortium consists of Activity Alliance, the British Paralympic Association, nasen (National Association for Special Educational Needs), Youth Sport Trust and Swim England. Young people and parents also sit on the group. 

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said:  

“It’s hugely important that every child, including those with special educational needs and disabilities, can benefit from a world class education. I’m pleased that the Inclusion 2024 programme, led by the Youth Sport Trust, is helping pupils with SEND achieve their potential by increasing their opportunities to take part in PE and school sport. 

“The Government’s own focus has been on improving equal access to sport which is why we recently invested up to £57 million in funding to help selected schools around England to keep their sports facilities open for longer for after-school activities, especially targeted at girls, disadvantaged children and those with special educational needs. 

“We are committed to improving the experience and outcomes for pupils with SEND which is why high needs funding will be rising to £10.1 billion in this financial year 2023-24 - an increase of over 50% from the 2019-20 allocations.” 

Ali Oliver MBE, Chief Executive at the Youth Sport Trust, said: 

“Inclusion 2024 has been a game changer. It has built capacity, confidence and creativity in the PE and school sport system – ensuring both the curriculum and out of school hours provision is accessible, inclusive and empowering for children.  

“Alongside this, Inclusion 2024 has been building awareness and understanding in young disabled and non-disabled people through inclusive youth leadership training and peer-to-peer coaching. This is not only ensuring the time young disabled people spend in PE lessons or doing sport is meaningful and high quality, but it is also helping them to become healthier and happier by achieving the Chief Medical Officers’ guidance of at least 20 active minutes a day. 

“Through the hard work and expertise of consortium partners and the Youth Sport Trust Lead Inclusion School network we know young people are having fun, experiencing a greater sense of belonging and gaining confidence through sport.I would like to take this opportunity to thank them and the Department for Education for helping us to deliver on our mission.” 

The Inclusion 2024 consortium has shared some key resources from the programme for other schools to access for free as it enters its final year: 

  • All About Autism E-Learning - All About Autism is a digital and practical toolkit for schools in England that builds knowledge of Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC) and some of the key considerations for making PE and sport inclusive to all.  
  • School Swimming Hub – In partnership with Swim England, the hub has information and resources schools need to deliver a Learn to Swim Programme to the highest standard. It can also be accessed by swimming coordinators, swimming assistants, swim schools and operators who help teachers to deliver the Learn to Swim Programme and Awards. It features blogs, ideas and case studies on how to ensure school swimming and water safety is inclusive for all pupils.  
  • Inclusive Education Hub – Hosted by Activity Alliance, the hub is an online resource which offers bespoke support for teachers or school staff to review and improve their inclusive physical education and school sport delivery 
  • TOP Sportsability – Is an online resource for schools by the Youth Sport Trust and offers practical advice to teachers, learning support staff, and other sports practitioners. It consists of video clips and downloadable content showing ideas and strategies to support the inclusion of young disabled people in physical activity  
  • Inclusion 2024 live blog - At the heart of the programme and consortium are young people themselves. The Youth Sport Trust shares stories of some of the young people supported via a live blog to give other schools and organisations an insight into their experiences and the impact the investment is having for them 

For more information on Inclusion 2024 and to read the programme’s insight report in full please visit  

The Youth Sport Trust is encouraging schools up and down the UK to sign up for this year’s National School Sports Week campaign in June and make the #PledgeToPlay every day for the duration of the campaign. You can sign-up and find out more about the campaign  

Published on 22 May 2023