Debate on sport in schools and communities in Parliament

A debate in Parliament has heard MPs show support for calls from the Youth Sport Trust to make PE a core subject, with recognition that there is an urgent need for confirmation of funding for school sport for the academic year 2023/24.

Since London hosted the Olympic & Paralympic Games, more than 36,000 hours of PE has been lost from the curriculum (Department for Education Workforce Survey). Currently, there are only 47.2% of children accessing the 60 active minutes a day recommended by the Chief Medical Officer.

The charity has called on government to elevate the content and ambitions of the current School Sport & Activity Action Plan into a long term, joined up (cross- government) strategy with national targets, accountability, and clear leadership. 

Currently the action plan lacks both strategic investment of funds and a clear ambition or target to mobilise sector engagement while raising public awareness of the importance of PE, sport and physical activity.

The Youth Sport Trust believes the strategy when published should focus on three key areas:

  1. Daily physical activity - every child should be getting the 60 active minutes the Chief Medical Officer recommends as the daily amount of physical activity for 5-18-year-olds. The Youth Sport Trust says this can be achieved through advocacy across the Department for Education (DfE) and a commitment to evaluate schools’ contributions to this through Ofsted. It also believes a focus on active travel, active pedagogy and active breaktimes is needed.
  2. The elevation of Physical Education to be a core subject (alongside English and Maths). The charity says subject designation by DfE/government and heightened profile within Ofsted is needed, as is the introduction of national benchmarking of physical literacy. A national teacher training programme to kick-start a refreshed Physical Education curriculum focussed on physical literacy, character, and wellbeing would also help achieve this aim.
  3. An active wrap-around care programme offered by all schools (could be delivered across a group of schools) ensuring every child can access a broad range of sports and activity and is able to experience the life changing benefits of a ‘club’ experience. The Youth Sport Trust says this can be made possible through the extension of the successful School Games programme beyond competitive school sport to include reaction activities, outdoor and adventurous activities, dance, and fitness. Extension of the successful School Games Organiser network through investment into teams of young apprentices and young volunteers to become a school sport workforce adding capacity to the existing school workforce and in particular removing some of the organisational elements of delivering after school sport. Investment into community sports coaches and instructors whose focus is transitioning children and young people from school sport into community sport and recreation

MPs who took part in the debate said:

Seema Malhotra on School Games Organisers

Robin Walker on school sport funding

Kim Leadbeater on PE and physical literacy

Tracey Crouch on PE as core subject

Nick Gibb on sport and wellbeing

The Youth Sport Trust will continue to lobby government on behalf of schools to bring forwards confirmation of the Primary PE and Sports Premium and the publication of a long term strategy.

Watch the debate in full here;

Published on 12 January 2023